Last year was a tale of two offenses, one prior to Dak's injury to his calf and the other after the Denver blowout loss. Elite offense to more of a middle of the pack one.
We have discussed this in the past numerous times, teams started taking away the big passing plays and forced the Cowboys to run the football, take the underneath passes and drive the entire field. Several issues happened:
-They just couldn't run the football, even in light boxes. We can point to injuries to both the OL and the RB position, Zeke probably should of been playing more of a limited role as he clearly was hurting the team more then helping it.
-When they did have success on the ground, they just couldn't avoid the big penalty. Penalties were drive killers throughout the 2nd half of the season, in which they led the league.
-Most QB's would struggle moving the chains with consistent 3rd and longs. Add in Dak was reluctant to use his legs, defending this offense became much easier.
-Finally, when drives stalled, they had a very inconsistent place kicker, who missed managable FG's throughout the season, even struggled with extra points.
Have success on the ground and play more clean football will force defenses to get out of that so called shell, coverage defense. Question is, have they done enough to fix this #1 problem area?
-Connor Williams who led the league in penalties is now playing in Miami. However, they are replacing him with Tyler Smith who was a flag machine on the college level. Yes, many of his flags were over aggression, but he still must improve.
-Their TE's must do a better job blocking inline and in space. Not much turnover, but the loss of Jarwin certainly helps as he was more of a big receiver. Ferguson, McKeon and Sprinkle need to help in this area.
-Kellen Moore must be more like his predecessor and stick with the run game to keep teams honest. If you make a team one dimensional, much easier to defend.
-Even if risky, Dak has to threaten teams with his legs. He came into this league as a dual threat QB, he must bring that aspect back to the field.