The month of August is a month of extremes. Extreme heat is possible and expected in these
parts. Extreme longing too. We long for cooler weather. NFL fans long for the game to finally
return. Enough of the draft, free agency and mini-camps. We want big men fighting it out on a
grassy field to defend the honor of our team, our state, our city.
August provides the first real opportunity to see this again. It has been six months since the
Super Bowl. Now it is time to start dreaming about this year’s big game. For you younger
readers of Arlington Today, there was a time when the Cowboys going to the Super Bowl was
more than a dream. It was an expectation. It was a reality. It was a joy! It was so much fun to
follow your favorite team through the ups and downs of a long season only to see them in the
ultimate game again. Only to see them win it.
These days it actually starts in late July at training camp. But most of us don’t see the team in
action until that first preseason game. This year that will be August 12 right here in Arlington at
AT&T Stadium. Under the latest collective bargaining agreement, there are only three
preseason games. This year two of them will be at AT&T.
The team will be similar to the one that made the playoffs in each of the last two years. Yet
there will be some noticeable differences. First and foremost Zeke is gone. On March 15 the
Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott. Tony Pollard showed last season that he is ready, willing and
able to be a featured back and he now has a franchise tag to prove it. Zeke will be missed
though. His production has fallen so the Cowboys made the right decision but he was a joy to
watch play and beloved by his teammates.
Last season it was more difficult for the Cowboys to run the ball because the passing game was
not as strong. There was a dearth at wide receiver. That has been addressed. In March they
acquired Brandin Cooks from Houston. This former Biletnikoff Award winner and first round
draft pick will give the receiving corps depth and a deep threat.
The Cowboys also made a trade to bolster the secondary. Stephon Gilmore has a Super Bowl
ring that he won with the Patriots. He has an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that he
won just three seasons ago. He has 29 career interceptions and 127 pass deflections. He also
has five trips to the Pro Bowl under his belt the most recent was just two years ago in 2021.
Another weakness on that side of the ball was stopping the run. The Cowboys addressed that
this off season too. They signed Jonathon Hankins to a one year deal. More importantly they
drafted the run stopper of the future with first round pick Mazi Smith. This freakishly athletic
mountain of a man was among College football’s best run stoppers for the last two years at
Michigan. The Cowboys believe that he is such a good athlete that he will also be able to rush
the passer from his interior line position.
Another success of this off season was the fact that the Cowboys were able to keep Dan Quinn.
The former head coach who took the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl, continues to decline
opportunities offered to become a head coach again. He clearly loves it in Texas and his guys
clearly love him. He is a hands-on, vocal coach that provides the kind of leadership to the
defense that is normally reserved for the head coach.
Finally, the head coach will be more involved with the offense this year. Mike McCarthy will call
the offensive plays. He will be the first head coach to do so since Jason Garrett in 2016.
McCarthy will install a version of the West Coast offense that he used with the Green Bay
Packers from 2006 to 2018. You may remember one of those teams. His 2010 team won the
Super Bowl right here in Arlington.
When you add it all up you get another extreme. That is a fan base with extremely high hopes
for the Cowboys.