The Dallas Cowboys must answer these questions

May 25, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden (20) runs a drill during organized team activities at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden (20) runs a drill during organized team activities at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite having a healthy Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys continue to have several key concerns as the team nears training camp.

With quarterback Tony Romo being at his best offseason health in recent memory, Dallas Cowboys fans are understandably excited as the 2016 season quickly approaches. However, there’s several questions that need answering before the team kicks off against the New York Giants on September 11th.

First, there’s running back Darren McFadden who was the 4th leading rusher in the NFL last season. Many seem to believe his services are expendable  with the drafting of backs Ezekiel Elliot and Darius Jackson. Not only is that presumptuous – it sells McFadden short. If Joseph Randle wasn’t practically handed the starting spot last season, McFadden could have possibly led the league in rushing.

How so?

In the first five games of the season, he was used to spell the troubled Randle before taking over as the lead back after the bye week. McFadden averaged just over 87 yards from that point forward, while only averaging approximately 26 yards the prior five games.

Also take into account, this was done mostly without wide receiver Dez Bryant, Romo, and a diminutive passing game that showed little promise until back-up quarterback Kellen Moore took over. So what’s the question with McFadden?


The Cowboys should keep him on the roster as let’s be realistic, injuries can and will happen. There’s also no guarantee that Zeke remains healthy the entire season or that he is the second coming of Emmitt Smith. Listening to Jason Garrett’s latest press conference, he seems prepared to keep McFadden on his roster.

"Well he’s just a pro, he’s a pro in everything that he does and we’re really fortunate to have him on our team. Hes a good football player – he did a really good last year taking advantage of the opportunity that we gave him…his work ethic is outstanding, the example he sets about how to go about your business in meetings, in walk throughs, and in practice is outstanding. – Jason Garrett on Darren McFadden"

Speaking of Kellen Moore, backup quarterback is still a question the Cowboys have to answer. Moore showed flashes in Week 17 against the Washington Redskins of being a competent NFL signal caller. However, the talk of signing a veteran remains.

Dak Prescott was selected in the 4th round of the draft, yet he’s realistically three years away from being an effective quarterback in the league. He’s a project and currently the 4th best quarterback on the Cowboys, as Jameill Showers has looked sharp in the few glimpses of him from OTAs.

If the Cowboys are to bring in outside competition for Moore, it would be best to do so before training camp to give him ample time to learn the playbook.

Then there’s the pass rush…

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2015 was another season where the Cowboys lacked the ability to get constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season. While the 25th ranked 31.0 sacks don’t tell the entire story of the pass rush, it still is a major concern. How will it improve this season? That’s where the concern comes into play.

Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence are both set to serve four game suspensions for violating the leagues substance abuse policy, taking both projected starting defensive ends out of the lineup for the first quarter of the season. Problematic? Absolutely.

This puts pressure on defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, who is returning from offseason shoulder surgery to really wreak havoc from his 3-technique position. I highly doubt defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and this Cowboys staff will flex him out to either defensive end position – he’s simply not as effective out there.

Which defensive end will step up? Rookie 4th round draft choice Charles Tapper, Benson Mayowa, David Irving, Jack Crawford, Ryan Russell, and even less touted defensive line members of the roster have an opportunity to fight their way into the starting lineup or at least into the rotation.

Keep watch on Benson Mayowa and Jack Crawford to turn heads going forward, both have something to prove and each have raw talent that can be harnessed. The defensive end rotation will have to step up as they are the biggest question mark on the defense, especially during the first four weeks of the season.

If not anything else Rolando McClain is consistently a question that needs answering. As recently highlighted, when McClain is well condition, focused, and injury free he is a problem solver at the mike linebacker position. Running back continually shooting through a gap? Need a player to make a tackle a yard short of the first? Solved.

Need a role model teammate that shows up for workouts and can be counted on? Yeah, that’s where the concern comes into play.

As OTA’s continue and the Cowboys continue to move towards training camp, McClain will have be present in order to have any chance at making it through the entire season playing at his top level. If he is able to do that, he will be the perfect battery mate with Sean Lee in the linebacker corps. Will Rolando commit himself this year?

Luckily, there still remains ample time for the Cowboys to come up with the correct answers to all the questions facing the team.

Next: The Dallas Cowboys have only one goal this offseason

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