Cowboys News NFL: Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott suspended for the first six games of the 2017 NFL Season.



Dallas Cowboys 2017 Season Preview




Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Posted on 8/17/2017.


Dallas Cowboys Free Agency Recap


Nolan Carroll had 10 deflections with the Philadelphia in 2015 and 11 deflections in 2016. He's the biggest addition to the Dallas Cowboys roster and he will start at field cornerback this season.



Dallas Cowboys Draft Recap


The Dallas Cowboys put a huge emphasis on defense in the 2017 NFL Draft. None of their rookies are going to start though. Taco Charlton their first round pick out of Michigan is a backup 4-3 right end to Tyrone Crawford. Charlton's teammate at Michigan, Jourdan Lewis probably has the best chance to win a starting job among the rookies. Chidobe Awuzie out of Colorado was drafted a round ahead of Lewis in the second round. Fourth round pick Ryan Switzer, a wide receiver out of North Carolina is the teams kick returner which is the closest thing Dallas has to a rookie starting right now.




Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Summary: The Cowboys have a Pro Bowl quarterback in Dak Prescott. The rookie took over for Tony Romo in 2016 and won the starting job leading Dallas to a 13-3 record. Kellen Moore remains the teams backup quarterback despite a woeful job starting down the stretch plus Cooper Rush is a third stringer fighting for a roster spot.


The Cowboys have three coaches who are naturals at developing quarterbacks. Those guys are Jason Garrett at head coach, Scott Linehan at offensive coordinator, and Wade Wilson as their quarterbacks coach. Wilson was the Bears quarterback coach and he came to Dallas right after the Bears lost Super Bowl 41. These three coaches are naturals at developing quarterbacks. With these three coaches returning Dallas may do even more under Dak Prescott in 2017.


Dallas Cowboys Running Back Summary: Dallas is four deep at running back. Ezekiel Elliott leads the way. You also got Darren McFadden as a backup, Alfred Morris as a third stringer, and Ronnie Hillman. Dallas is going to have to decide whether McFadden or Morris starts during Ezekiel Elliott's six game suspension which Elliott appealed. There is still a chance his suspension gets overturned allowing Elliott to play against the New York Giants in week 1.


Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan develops running backs just as good as he develops quarterbacks. Gary Brown has been the Cowboys running back coach since 2013, and he's had a huge role in improving the play of the Cowboys running backs.


Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Summary: Dez Bryant needs to stay healthy, but when Bryant is healthy he is a deadly #1 receiver option. Terrance Williams had some success as a rookie, but struggled before putting things together in a contract year in 2016. Despite this he'as an effective #2 receiver when next to Dez Bryant. Cole Beasley showed he could fill in as a #2 receiver during Bryant's injury last season and is pretty much guaranteed the slot receiver job. Dallas doesn't have the depth at wide receiver they had last year with rookie Ryan Switzer out of North Carolina being a backup option at wide receiver who will step in as a starter if Bryant, Williams, or Beasley gets injured in 2017.


Derek Dooley has been an awesome wide receivers coach for the Cowboys. He was Tennessee's head coach prior to that and when he got fired, he had two receivers in the 2013 NFL Draft in Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. Dooley knows how to develop his receivers and I expect him to continue to do a good job developing both the receivers and tight ends on the Cowboys.


Dallas Cowboys Tight End Summary: Jason Witten is a leader on this offense and the starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas doesn't have much depth behind Witten with Gavin Escobar gone as last years third stringer James Hanna is now the backup and starter if Witten gets injured. Dallas will be extremely limited on offense if Witten goes down even if their running backs and receivers stay healthy.


Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Summary: Tyron Smith is one of the leagues best left tackles. La'El Collins is moving from left guard to right tackle with Doug Free retiring. Chaz Green, the Cowboys 2015 third round pick out of Florida that was a backup right tackle is moving to a starting left guard role with Travis Frederick at center and Zack Martin at right guard. Smith, Frederick, and Martin are the glue to this offensive line since all three have Pro Bowl ability. Dallas does not have the depth they had on the offensive line they had last season so if injuries occur up front Dallas will be at a huge disadvantage.


Frank Pollack managed to save his job last season as this offensive line ended up being the best unit in the NFL last season. His assistant, Marc Colombo a former right tackle with the Dallas Cowboys seems like a better choice to be the Cowboys offensive line coach since he used to play for the team while serving as a good mentor to some of their younger offensive linemen.


All of the Cowboys offensive coaches are back. That's why this can be a potent offense once again if everyone stays healthy in 2017.


The Cowboys were 5th in points per game, 5th in total yards, 20th in passing yards, and 2nd in rushing yards in 2016. Prescott did a nice job managing games for Dallas last season, but will have to throw more this year so we could see Dallas finish top 10 in every category and top 15 in passing yards if Dak Prescott builds on his incredible rookie campaign.



Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line Summary: Right now you got Tyrone Crawford at 4-3 right end DeMarcus Lawrence at 4-3 left end. Taco Charlton their 2017 first round pick is a better pass rusher than Crawford, but he's on second team. Charles Tapper got demoted to third string and is now a backup to Charlton. You got Maliek Collins and Cedric Thornton starting at defensive tackle. can be effective starters.


Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is great at developing defensive linemen. The Cowboys defensive coordinator is also the defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys. He did a phenomenal job with what he had to work with last year. Leon Lett, a former defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys also deserves some credit as the defensive tackles coach.


Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Summary: Dallas has okay outside linebackers in right outside linebacker Sean Lee, middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens, and left outside linebacker Damien Wilson.


Matt Eberflus is not just the Cowboys linebackers coach. He's also the passing game coordinator for the Cowboys offense and defense when working with the players during practice meaning he's gonna do a good job preparing the linebackers to drop back into coverage. Eberflus deserves a defensive coordinator opportunity if he can do something with a linebacking core this thin.


Dallas Cowboys Defensive Backs Summary: Right now Nolan Carroll is the field cornerback with Orlando Scandrick as the boundary cornerback. Anthony Brown is the nickel cornerback. Jourdan Lewis their 2017 third round pick is pushing Brown for that starting spot though. Then you got Chidobe Awuzie as the quarter cornerback on the Dallas Cowboys depth chart even though he did well in the Hall Of Fame game. Marquez White the other cornerback, the Cowboys drafted is a backup for depth. Dallas is much deeper at cornerback then they have been in years past.


Jeff Heath at strong safety and Byron Jones at free safety is a good tandem. You also got Robert Blanton and Xavier Woods a 2017 draft pick out of Louisiana Tech for depth.


Joe Baker returns as the defensive backs coach while Greg Jackson returns as the safeties coach. All of the coaches on the defensive side of the ball are back for Dallas.


The Cowboys defense went from a mess in 2015 to a middle of the pack defense in 2016. Dallas was 13th in sacks, 8th in points allowed, 16th in total yards allowed, 20th in pass defense, and 1st in run defense.



Dallas Cowboys Special Teams Summary: Dan Bailey is one of the NFL's best kickers. Bailey went 27/32 on field goals with a career high 54 yard field goal while nailing every single extra point attempt last season. Chris Jones is starting to emerge as a reliable veteran on special teams. Rookie Ryan Switzer out of North Carolina is the teams kick returner. Cole Beasley is the punt returner.


Rich Bisaccia isn't just the special teams coordinator for Dallas. He's also the assistant head coach meaning if Garrett gets fired Bisaccia is the guy that becomes interim head coach. Bisaccia was an awesome special teams coordinator in Tampa Bay, but has been huge for the Cowboys special teams and deserves a ton of credit for reviving Dan Bailey's career as one of the leagues best kickers.




Dallas Cowboys Worst Case Scenario: The Dallas Cowboys go 9-7. They miss the playoffs thanks to the Ezekiel Elliott suspension.


Dallas Cowboys Best Case Scenario: Dallas goes 13-3 again and Elliott's suspension gets overturned so he doesn't miss any playing time if he wins the appeal. They get home field in the NFC once again or find a way to win the NFC. Dallas has all their coaches back from last year so do not rule out this possibility.


Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Schedule


Week
Date
Opponent
Time
Cable Network
Result
Week 1
September 10
VS
8:30 PM EST
NBC
L
Week 2
September 17
AT
4:25 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 3
September 25
AT
8:30 PM EST
ESPN
W
Week 4
October 1
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 5
October 8
VS
4:25 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 6
Bye Week
Week 7
October 22
AT
4:05 PM ET
FOX
W
Week 8
October 29
AT
4:25 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 9
November 5
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 10
November 12
AT
4:25 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 11
November 19
VS
8:30 PM EST
NBC
W
Week 12
November 23
VS
4:30 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 13
November 30
VS
8:25 PM EST
NBC
W
Week 14
December 10
AT
4:25 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 15
December 17
AT
8:30 PM EST
NBC
L
Week 16
December 24
VS
4:25 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 17
December 31
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
W


Dallas Cowboys 2017 Projected Record (10-6): Dallas benefitted from an easy schedule in 2016. Their schedule is much tougher this year. They don't get Ezekiel Elliott until week 8 and that's when I have them losing three in a row to Washington, Kansas City, and Atlanta. I also have them losing two in a row to the Giants and the Raiders on the road after a thursday night win over Washington heading into December. The Cowboys will have to win on Christmas Eve and New Years Day to have a shot at securing the final wild card, but that's what I think ends up happening.


I have the Giants going 11-5 and winning the NFC East. We have the top 5 seeds in the NFC crowned. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are my one seed at 12-4 with the New York Giants getting the other first round bye at 11-5.


The Green Bay Packers went 10-6 and got the 3 seed winning the NFC North. The Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West at 8-8. The Atlanta Falcons secured the first wild card at 11-5. The final wild card will go to Dallas. Let's break down the entire NFC Playoff picture.




We start with rematches of last years Divisional round games in the wild card round. The only difference is that Seattle and Green Bay are the home teams instead of Atlanta and Dallas. I also have both Atlanta and Dallas winning on the road. Seattle is 5-0 at CenturyLink Field under Russell Wilson, but I think Quinn can beat his old boss in Seattle this time around since Seattle lacks a good left tackle. Green Bay lacks a quality guard. Going on the road to Green Bay will be a tough challenge and will test Dallas, but they will come together and win. That will make the Cowboys stronger.


Now we go to the divisional round. Without as many coaches, Matt Ryan and Atlanta lose to the Giants in New York. We also see the 6 seed Cowboys knock off a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team with home field due to this season being Winston's first year in the playoffs even if Tampa Bay gets home field.


This means my 2018 NFC Championship game will feature two NFC East teams with the 6 seed Dallas Cowboys and the 2 seed New York Giants in New York. Dallas gets swept in the regular season due to Elliott's suspension. Pundits will be ready to declare Eli VS Brady Part 3, but Dallas will get revenge and Dak will get his first win against the Giants in New York in the most critical situation during an NFC Championship game.


This gives us a Dallas VS New England Super Bowl for Super Bowl 52 in Minnesota assuming Dallas can squeak in as the 6 seed in the NFC. I'll reveal my Super Bowl Champion in my Patriots preview so stay tuned.









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