By: Greg Rector
A new coaching staff, no pre-season games, 10 rookies, and several free agents. Based on all of that anyone telling you they know what’s coming in week one is absolutely full of it. So this is really a shot in the dark as to how the Sunday night football game against the Los Angeles Rams will pan out.
How this group plays is anyone’s guess. What we do know is McCarthy came out adamant that this is Kellen Moore’s offense, he said he’s being careful about stepping on Moore’s toes. So to me, the keys will be very simple in week one. Establish Elliott on the ground early, get the offensive line into a rhythm to avoid seeing Aaron Donald just pin his ears back and rush Prescott. Then start using the potentially dangerous three-headed monster wide receiver combination of Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb.
The line will be without La’el Collins for the first three games so Cameron Erving, will get to prove he can in fact be the swing tackle they needed to sign this off-season. They have their work cut out for them right out of the gate dealing with Donald in week one, so this will be a very good test for the line. They must establish themselves early so everything else can operate according to plan.
I expect both Elliott and Tony Pollard to see plenty of touches as rushers and pass receivers. The reason being is the Rams linebackers appears to be the weak spot on their defense. This also means Blake Jarwin could see the ball a fair amount. The Rams secondary led by Jalen Ramsey will be no easy match, and we know the Rams defensive line can put plenty of pressure on the quarterback.
Since there’s been no pre-season, I don’t expect we will see the starters on every down, so look for plenty of substitutions, that might include getting Andy Dalton some snaps as well.
No Todd Gurley for the Rams as he’s now in Atlanta. Rams coach Sean McVay intends to use a running back by committee approach with Cam Akers, and Darrell Henderson. As with the Cowboys, I expect the Rams will try establishing their running game early. This will be a good test for Dontari Poe, and second-year DT Trysten Hill, to show opponents running inside is no longer going to be a piece of cake.
I expect to see a lot of pressure coming from this group in the passing game as well. You know Aldon Smith is going to be very jacked up to play after such a long absence, he along with Everson Griffen, must make defenses very wary of double-teaming Demarcus Lawrence. The pressure should also be coming from Jaylon Smith. Goff must feel that heat or he can pick apart a defense. The Rams looked pretty decent towards the end of last season.
No Sean Lee either so the linebackers will be Justin March, and or Joe Thomas along with Smith and Leighton Vander Esche. They will need to stop the running game and prevent Tyler Higbee, who really improved as a tight end last year from doing damage.
The secondary play is the absolute wild card. However this group will be tested by two of the best route runners in the game, both Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, are excellent receivers. No idea who will be in or out of the rotation back there, but it appears that Trevon Diggs will be relied upon at one corner spot.
Since there are so many unknowns I am leery of any prediction for this game. So here goes nothing, the Cowboys want to start the McCarthy era off on the right note, and as usual, they know the critics will have the knives out ready to carve up anything negative. That said I think they will win this game 24-17.
COWBOYS FOOTBALL IS BACK!!! WE DEM BOYS
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