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Mailbag: Why This 2019 Team Seems Different?

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Since the late 2000s, anytime the Cowboys have entered a season with high expectations coming from the media/fans, they have failed to live up to them, in some instances pretty miserably. I know injuries played a role for a couple of those. But, something about this year's team feels different than those to me. I should probably temper my expectations a bit, but what do you think could be different about this team that will help it overcome the challenges that have plagued the teams of the recent past? - JAMES MITCHELL

Bryan: I think the roster has a chance to be outstanding. I don’t like the schedule and I have my questions about the head coach, but he’s proven me wrong before. As you mentioned, health will be the biggest thing that potentially could take this team down. If they can avoid that issue, your feelings could be accurate.

Rob: One difference is it’s a younger team than the 2008, 2010, 2017 teams that didn’t make the playoffs despite Super Bowl expectations. Let me clarify that: It’s a younger, yet battle-tested team. It’s fair to think a lot of the young guys will improve based on the experience they got last season: climbing out of a 3-5 hole and making the second round of the playoffs. I agree with Bryan that the schedule looks unforgiving. Whatever the record ends up being, this team is better on paper than last year.

With the way the D-Line wore down against the run late last season and the pending suspensions, do you think the team carries extra linemen in the roster this year, specifically on the interior? - LANDON CABELL

Bryan: The front seven as a whole was bad, not just the tackles. Could they carry an extra guy on the line? Absolutely, but it will likely be at defensive end, where the talent is deeper.

Rob: I assume you’re referring to Randy Gregory’s indefinite suspension. Even if he’s still suspended Week 1, I could see them carrying an extra defensive end simply because the overall talent level at that position is so good. Think about it: They traded for Robert Quinn in part to protect themselves against Gregory’s suspension. They haven’t lost any other contributors from last season, and they also drafted two rookies in the later rounds (Joe Jackson, Jalen Jelks) with potential. It’s a lot to sort out.

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