Do the Dallas Cowboys need a preseason plan for 2020?
Unlike past preseasons the Dallas Cowboys are welcoming a new coaching staff to the team, the only major mainstay being offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Leading to the question of how much the Cowboys star players should be involved in the 2020 preseason. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw 14-passes during the 2019 preseason, can the team follow the same formula in 2020?
A big worry of 2019, was running back Ezekiel Elliott holding out of training camp and all four preseason games awaiting a long term contract. Not a single rep with the team and many stories of his training in Cabo before inking his $90 million deal, controlled the preseason news cycle. Elliott averaged 77.2 yards rushing his first five games of 2019, only carrying the ball more than 20-times once during that opening stretch.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper, the last leg of the Cowboy’s new “Triplets”, didn’t play in the 2019 preseason and started the season off with four touchdowns in three games. So, there isn’t much science behind the effects of playing in preseason or not. America’s Team was gifted the easiest three-games imaginable to start 2019 though.
They aren’t gifted that in 2020, as the beginning stretch of the schedule includes two trips to tough west coast teams and a home game versus an Atlanta Falcons team that was surging towards the end of 2019. Leading once again to the question, do the Dallas Cowboy’s core players on both sides of the ball need reps during the preseason?
Yes! Dallas Cowboys stars do need reps but not for the obvious reason …
There isn’t much science between preseason performance and the beginning of the regular season for players, there are way too many moving variables to get an accurate forecast. But there might just be a placebo effect that the Cowboys want going into 2020. One that they discovered during 2016 when Prescott took America’s Team by storm.
In 2016, Prescott threw the ball 50-times during the first three preseason games, an unbelievable performance that included five touchdowns as well. Starting quarterback Tony Romo gets hurt the third preseason game and the rest is history. Prescott was able to get an abnormal amount of reps for a starting quarterback due to him being the backup until the injury.
Also, in 2016, Elliott was just a rookie in the NFL, a few weeks before his stardom would take off and he would average well over a 100-yards rushing per game his rookie campaign. Elliott got seven carries in the third preseason game and went for 48-yards. The most memorable moment was the rookie back running over Seattle Seahawks Safety Kam Chancellor during the first quarter.
There was a lot of positive energy from that preseason game, despite the Romo injury. The energy that carried the team into the season, also the energy that gave the team an improbable 11-game win streak after a hiccup to the New York Giants Week One of 2016.
The energy around that team was just different, it wasn’t the same lame energy that plagued the team in 2019. As there were questions of where players were physically and mentally after limited or no preseason last season. The organization might want to safely, keyword safely, play their star players for a series or two each preseason game. Sending them out there with a purpose to score each time or make a key three and out, trying to get a clear vision of 2020 in their heads.
It is impossible to prove what sprung the 2016 Cowboys to heights that weren’t imaginable after the Romo injury. I believe that it was the young stars taking over during the preseason game, inspiring a belief it would translate to games that counted. There needs to be that focus again, a focus that the preseason matters for a team that didn’t make the playoffs the season before. An edge needs to be established early before their first three-games.