The Things We Think About the 2018 Dallas Cowboys

Ari Temkin
August 31, 2018 - 7:59 am
Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys

© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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Here’s what we think we know about the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

We think the 2018 Dallas Cowboys have a deep linebacking corps…

There’s no denying it, the linebackers were the weakest link last season. Warren Sharp ranked the 2017 defense thirtieth in the NFL in third-down defense. Injuries to Anthony Hitchens and Sean Lee put Jaylon Smith in a bad spot. Smith’s recovery from drop foot made it extremely difficult for him to be a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. Offensive coordinators consistently exploited his inability to move laterally, especially on third down. From OTAs now through the end of the preseason, Jaylon Smith has looked every bit the disruptive force he was at Notre Dame. We know all of the cliches about preseason performances, but Smith is on an uncharted path of amazing accomplishment already. What’s he’s doing is a miracle of the human spirit and modern medical science. Damien Wilson is flying around and has gelled well next to Jaylon. There’s always the greatness of Sean Lee. Fingers crossed. Joe Thomas off the bench looks like he’s another Will McClay gem. Then, of course, there’s first-round draft pick Leighton Vander Esh, whose quiet camp has been overshadowed by the superior play of the rest of the backers. The offensive line is undoubtedly the best positional group on the Cowboys, but the linebackers are second.

We think the Cowboys have a major issue at receiver…

X-receiver anyone? Michael Gallup has promise. The last rookie WR to have 1,000+ yards receiving was Amari Cooper with 1,070 in 2015. He added six touchdowns.  Cooper was the fifteenth overall pick, while Gallup was a third-round selection. The Cowboys coaching staff and front office was most adamant this offseason about the receivers. This is the group they wanted. No standout, just a bunch of guys for Dak to spread the ball around. Let’s see where they go on 3rd-and-8. The Cowboys made their bed with their wide receivers and now they have to lie in it.

We think the offensive line will be fine…

The Cowboys best unit is precariously perched. Three All-Pros all threatened with various ailments. We don’t know how long Travis Frederick will be out. Joe Looney might be an adequate replacement, but there are certain things that make the Cowboys dominant that Looney cannot do. Three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy joined the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network Pregame Show before the Cowboys week three preseason game against the Cardinals. Kennedy said guys that play next to each other like Martin and Frederick don’t need to communicate because they anticipate where the other is going to be. Tyron Smith is dealing with a bad back and bad backs don’t get better as you get older. He’s worked tirelessly this offseason to improve his back, so cheers to 16 games for one of the all-time great left tackles. Zack Martin might very well be the best player on the Dallas Cowboys. He has a bone bruise, we don’t know how severe, but there’s not enough time between the injury and the start of the season for it to have fully healed. Like I said, precariously perched.

It’s been a long and tireless offseason, now it’s finally time for the real games to begin.