Cowboys are winning the offseason.
At a time in which a number of teams around the league are conducting abbreviated offseason programs, the Cowboys could gain an advantage on their rivals with a comprehensive spring/summer program that also features an extra preseason game. The team is not only getting near-perfect attendance at their "voluntary" workouts but they will have an opportunity to take advantage of an extra week of work at training camp and an additional preseason game. With the NFL slashing preseason games and players negotiating reduced time on the field during OTAs and mini-camps, the Cowboys could find their rhythm sooner than their opponents due to extra reps and instruction.
Although Mike McCarthy could elect to scale back on the intensity of some of the team drills throughout the offseason program to ensure players are healthy and available for training camp, the extra individual periods and walk-through practices will still enable players to master their fundamentals and techniques. Remember, the offseason is all about creating championship habits through detailed repetition. With more opportunities than their opponents to work on the grass, the Cowboys could rise above the competition this season.
DQ makes the grass his classroom.
The best coaches in the NFL are outstanding teachers with the ability to make complex concepts fairly simple for their players. Quinn takes it a step further by demonstrating his lessons on the field with a hands-on approach that is rare for play-callers. The former long-time defensive line coach spent extensive time with the trench warriors at Cowboys' rookie camp, exhibiting patient but detailed teaching style on clips that hit social media over the weekend. Quinn's work with Osa Odighizuwa, in particular, showcased his ability to teach and demonstrate on the grass with enthusiasm and vigor. Given the laid-back approach utilized by his predecessor (and the dismal results), DQ's hands-on methods are a welcome change at The Star.
Zeke poised to bounce back.
If you've been paying close attention to Twitter, you've probably caught a glimpse of Ezekiel Elliott's offseason workouts. The * has been diligently working on his footwork and agility since the end of the season. The hard work hasn't gone unnoticed with No.21 looking quicker and lighter with the ball in his hands. Most important, Elliott looks motivated and determined to reclaim his spot as a Top 5 running back. If the two-time NFL rushing champ shows up in world-class shape, as it appears, the rest of the NFC should be on notice.
Who is the odd man out?
With Micah Parsons slated to play "MIKE" linebacker, the Cowboys will need to put one of their former Pro Bowl linebackers on the bench for long stretches of the game. The pass-centric nature of the NFL will require the Cowboys to spend the bulk of the game in some form of Nickel defense to match up with the three-receiver sets featured prominently around the league. Parsons' speed, explosiveness, and blitzing ability make him an essential piece to the puzzle. Smith's experience will certainly come in handy but his athletic limitations could make him a liability and coverage. LVE's length and instincts pose problems for quarterbacks attempting to throw down the seams but his injury history makes it hard to pencil him as a reliable option. In addition, the acquisitions of Keanu Neal and Jabril Cox give Quinn more options at the position when putting together sub-packages to match up with spread teams Considering the upgraded athleticism at the linebacker spots, one of the Cowboys' former Pro Bowlers could see their playing time cut short in 2021.
Bigger is better
There has been a lot of conversation about the size and length of the Cowboys' draftees, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. If you've followed DQ from his days as the defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks, you might understand why big, long-armed defenders are essential to playing great zone defense. The collective length from the linebackers shrinks the passing windows between the numbers, particularly with the defenders spot dropping with their eyes on the quarterback. The combination of quicker reactions (due to defenders seeing the ball thrown) from defenders with long wingspans is an intimidating sight for quarterbacks.
On the perimeter, the presence of long-armed cornerbacks makes life difficult for wide receivers unable to deal with press coverage from patient defenders. This not only eliminates free access for receivers but it reduces the odds of quarterbacks completing 50-50 balls outside the numbers.
The presence of long-armed "bigs" in the trenches forces quarterbacks to throw over and around trees at the line of scrimmage. With most interceptions hauled off tipped passes or overthrown balls, the Cowboys' length obsession is all about generating more turnovers in a league that is often deciding by the takeaway margin.