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Draft Central | 2020

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Spagnola: Offense Capable Of Virtual Showtime


SHELTERED IN PLACE, Texas – Come on 2020 season opener.

Please start on time, by Sunday, Sept. 13.

Just can't wait to hear Dak Prescott bark:

Three-80, 3-80, set.

That first offensive snap of the season. And the second. And the third. And …

Can't wait to see this offense of the Dallas Cowboys on the field … again.

Dak. Zeke. Coop. Gallup. Jarwin. Tony. And now, Ceeee-Deeee!

Combine that with Kellen Moore in his second year as offensive coordinator.

And Mike McCarthy's influence.

Giddy, right?

Yeah, I know, slow down big boy, it's only the last week in April. But hey, come on, in this virtual world we now live in, can we not also virtually dream?

Or project?

Even McCarthy, who has not conducted the new head coach's first real, in-person team meeting, and a guy who already seems to qualify his accolades and keep things close to his vest, did say after this wildly successful 2020 NFL Draft attracting a record number of eyeballs just aching too watch something real from our paused sports world, "It's definitely an offensive group that has great promise."

He says promise.

For me, great expectations.

How's about you?

And why not? Let's not forget, no team in the NFL last year gained more yards than the Dallas Cowboys, officially from a statistical standpoint, the No. 1 offense in the league.

Averaged 431.5 yards a game by compiling a franchise record 6,904 total yards, 514 more than the previous record set in 2009 (6,390). No. 2 in passing offense with 4,751 yards, another franchise record by 22 yards. No. 5 in rushing offense, fourth most for the Cowboys since 1995 when Emmitt Smith ran for what was then a franchise record 1,773 yards.

And when it came to points, the Cowboys' 434 finished sixth in the NFL – despite three times being held to no more than 10 points – and was the most for the team since totaling 467 in the 2014 season.

And let's pause for a second right here to debunk this growing notion, mostly on talk radio, that the Cowboys philosophy will be trying to outscore every opponent with not a care about playing defense. Do not drink that Clorox.

And that definitely was not what the Cowboys were thinking going into the NFL Draft the past three days. Look, had Lamb not been still on the board when they jumped on the clock at No. 17, LSU defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson would have been a Dallas Cowboy. And … and … that would have meant, if all else prevailed, the Cowboys would have used their first four picks on defensive players – cornerback Trevon Diggs, defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and cornerback Reggie Robinson the next three – and as it eventually turned out on five of their seven selections, with center Tyler Biadasz at end of fourth and quarterback Ben DiNucci in the seventh round the only other offensive players selected.

So stop it.

But Lamb's presence at 17 just had to be heaven-sent. Come on, what were the odds? And as I said going into the draft, the Cowboys' greatest asset would be their flexibility, that if something unforeseen presented itself, the Cowboys could turn into Rubberband Man.

Boy did they, gobbling up those hands and legs of Lamb's, and then proceeding from there.

"Wherever we sat, whatever we did, whatever clothes we had on, we ought to remember that and write it down so we can do it again," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of just how fortuitously the draft just fell into their laps.

Especially Lamb.

You've seen him play. As McCarthy said, he can line up at any of the wide receiver positions. Heck, inside, either outside, in the backfield. And look, he's not some munchkin receiver that size relegates him to the slot. He's 6-2, 200. And runs like the wind, with wizardly ability to change directions like Texas spring weather.

So let's review:

The Cowboys return two receivers coming off 1,000-yard seasons, Amari Cooper with 1,189 – remember he played just three snaps in one game and endured that New England rainstorm in another – and Michael Gallup, in just his second NFL season, and at that missing two games – with 1,107. That's something the Cowboys haven't enjoyed since the 2006 season with Terrell Owens (1,180) and Terry Glenn (1,047), this for only the third time in the franchise's 60-year history, the first occurring in 1979, Tony Hill with 1,062 and Drew Pearson posting 1,026. And, the only other time the Cowboys even came close to having two wide receivers with 1,000-yard seasons came in 1968, Lance Rentzel with 1,009 and Bob Hayes at 909.

So now, bring on Lamb, assuming he is what we think he is, or at least the Cowboys think since they had him the top-rated wide receiver in the draft and No. 6 overall on their board. Their board, OK, not some wannabe draftniks.

Now, not sure where the historians stand on this. And we know the Cowboys have two wide receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with Hayes and Michael Irvin. And they've had several other top-notch wide receivers, including Pearson, Rentzel, Hill, Owens, Glenn, Frank Clarke, Rocket Ismail, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Keyshawn Johnson. And not saying any of these three is better than all of those.

But arguably the Cowboys have never had a receiver threesome as potentially dynamic as these three. Two sometimes, but never three with this amount of talent and capabilities all during the same season.

"I think we've got a very unique offense put together between having a really good offensive line, a tight end that can stretch the middle of the field, the three receivers you just mentioned and then (Ezekiel Elliott) in the backfield and an athletic quarterback that throws the ball very well," Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said, being careful not to jump to conclusions before Lamb even steps foot in The Star.

"We certainly have opportunities to move the ball and score points. We'll just have to see. Obviously we made that pick because we think it makes us dynamic and certainly gives us the opportunity to really give people problems when they line up on the other side of the ball and when they defend us."

For sure. And as Stephen said, think about Cooper and Gallup lined up wide, Lamb in the slot, tight end Blake Jarwin coming off the line of scrimmage and on top of that, with this offensive line, and at least adding the center to the roster who actually started games at center last year, this passing offense should be top notch.

And oh, let's not forget the potential to hand Zeke the ball for another 1,000 yards and Dak Prescott's ability to also run the ball, along with change-of-pace back Tony Pollard's to run and catch out of the backfield. This is real stuff.

Maybe the second coming of The Greatest Show on Turf?

OK, OK, way, way ahead of myself, I know. But man, bet you guys can't wait for Dak to start barking out those signals.

Sounds as if this coaching staff can't wait, either.

"Kellen Moore has had a lot of fun the last two days – we met (Saturday) morning – on a few new wrinkles we're looking to work," McCarthy even said, again seemingly not one to get too carried away with things. "It's really just which way you emphasize. This is normal process after the draft, once you start seeing the 90-man roster come into play. Yes, it is fun to score a lot of points, but at the end of the day, I think when the offense plays to the defense and then the offense and defense plays to the special teams, that is what we'll be focused on as a football team. Get the consistency there that you need to win week-in and week-out.

"It is definitely an offensive group that has great promise."


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