A collective sigh of relief goes through the American football world: The NFL season 2021 begins and after months of preparation is finally delivering a real spectacle again! Thursday night will be the first time for the Dallas Cowboys to provide answers to the many questions that surrounded America’s Team in the offseason. A guest appearance with the reigning Super Bowl champion is a chance to prove yourself directly on the big stage. At the same time, the NFL Season Opener is also a little ungrateful for Dallas, because the pirate ensemble around superstar Tom Brady will immediately test mercilessly how firmly this year’s cowboys are really in the saddle!
The NFL offseason is primarily a time of mind games each year. Roster constellations are cheerfully pushed back and forth, in the draft one fantasizes about possible game changers and here and there franchises ensure that the gaps are filled or the potential is exhausted. The whole thing is a wonderfully carefree time for teams and fans, in which you can dream and have visions disconnected from past defeats.
For the most part, these are nourished by a wealth of news and images, which not infrequently spread undisguised optimism. The same kind of news found its way to the public with the Dallas Cowboys this summer. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers anyway, after all, the biggest problem for them was not to crush the Vince Lombardi trophy they had just won and at the same time keep the best team of the last NFL season intact.
Dallas Cowboys hope for healthy performers
While the last endeavor in the shine of the still brightly shining Tom Brady worked smoothly, it looks a little different with the Dallas Cowboys before the season opener. There is still something left of the enormous euphoria that was nourished by the return and contract extension of star quarterback Dak Prescott, the newfound fitness mania of running back Ezekiel Elliott and a recovery of key pillars such as Tyron Smith. But only a part.
A Covid-19 outbreak noticeably affected the Dallas Cowboys just in training and, among other things, probably costs All-Pro Guard Zack Martin the use in the opening game. At the same time, other circumstances have revealed glaring gaps these days, which one would have liked to have eliminated, but which, given the current composition of the roster, will probably hang like a sword of Damocles in the constant pendulum over the heads of the cowboys. Above all, there is the factor that Dallas, like no other team in the NFL, has to cope with health question marks behind its most important players.
Ailing Dak Prescott remains a question mark
Dak Prescott returned from a serious ankle injury in Week Five last season, only to miss large chunks of preparation with a shoulder injury. No snap in the preseason, little live action during training, the mental pressure to return – it’s a potentially toxic cocktail that in the past has spilled over onto the beautiful white seasonal ceiling in many cases.
Even if Dak Prescott finds his way back to his old form after a certain period of acclimatization, which medical reports suggest, new injuries on the offensive line could throw 150 kilograms of sticks between his legs. Actually everyone is feeling great at the moment, they usually do that in this phase of the offseason, but tackles like Tyron Smith or the last ailing La’El Collins will make many cowboy fans tremble if they slow down a little after a run Legs come.
Cowboys Defense trembles at Tom Brady
On the offensive front line in Dallas, at least they know that they once sent one of the most dominant units of the NFL into the field and that the current group in good health has what it takes to repeat similar deeds. The defense, on the other hand, allowed more points last year than any other cowboys defense in history and, even after changing personnel with up to six new starters, gives little reason for optimism. The hopes placed in new coordinator Dan Quinn seem a little exaggerated because of the poor defense performance of his Atlanta Falcons towards the end of his tenure there.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are about as far from such question marks or problems as Dallas is from Florida to the west. All key players of the past Super Bowl Run could be held, the preparation this year was used to further tie down promising structures and with the NFL title from last season, a certain self-image among the team was cemented, which will be a decisive advantage in the future could be.
Dallas Cowboys with “Puncher’s Chance” against Buccaneers
The Buccaneers, among the top favorites in almost all power rankings of the preseason, exude the kind of self-confidence that has always made their quarterback Tom Brady an exceptional player. Paired with a lineup that can keep up with almost any kind of game pace in terms of personnel and play, it is an almost worrying combination. If you keep it up with the opponents of the Bucs, of course.
On paper, the story of the season opener seems to be told quickly: Tampa Bay has an offense that should put the cowboys defense together with their battered interior line and questionable secondary in a sweat on their foreheads during the walkthrough. The defense of the Buccaneers with the massive defensive line as well as the athletic linebacker rockets Devin White and Lavonte David is at the same time not the unit against which Dak Prescott could warm up a bit.
But even if the cowboys are limping a little into the new NFL season, they are at the same time a team that doesn’t have to shy away from any shootout that gets out of hand. Their offensive firepower is definitely on the top NFL shelf on paper and anyone who lets guys like CeeDee Lamb, Elliott or Amari Cooper off the leash always has a “puncher’s chance” anyway. Even against the supposedly best team in the league. For example, you could …
Exactly, enough of the mind games! On paper, Thursday night no longer counts, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Dallas Cowboys and all the other NFL teams really have to deliver again. On the lawn, where it really counts!