The Dallas Cowboys fielded a top-10 defense in 2018 — good enough to win the Super Bowl with enough support on the offensive side of the ball.
The defense was ranked fifth in the NFL against the run, allowing just 94.6 rushing yards per game. As a unit, the Cowboys were seventh in yards (329.3) and sixth in points (20.3) allowed per contest. That unit should be able to improve on those numbers in 2019.
Unfortunately for head coach Jason Garrett, injuries, early-season miscues and the lack of a true No. 1 receiving threat spoiled the first half of the 2018 campaign and had the Cowboys playing catch-up during the back half of the season.
Heading into 2019, things are looking more stable on the offensive side of the ball, and that could be enough to establish the Dallas Cowboys as a serious contender in the NFC right out of the gate.
Here are five ways the Dallas Cowboys will be better in 2019 than they were in '18.
1. Travis Frederick returns at center
As of right now, it looks like the All-Pro center is on track to make a full recovery and return from being out due to Guillain-Barre Syndrome. That's huge, as it would immediately re-assert the Cowboy offensive line as one of the elite units in the NFL. The Dallas rushing attack ranked 10th in the NFL in 2018 — the lowest since '13. Frederick's leadership, blocking ability and football IQ will provide an immediate and visible boost up front.
2. QB-WR chemistry
Dak Prescott thrived with Amari Cooper in the lineup, and that was without an offseason to get used to his new No. 1 target. The thought of the two of them on the same page heading into the season has got to give warm, fuzzy feelings to the Cowboy faithful. Cooper's presence this offseason also solidifies the role and expectations of Michael Gallup as the clear-cut No. 2 receiver.
3. The addition of Randall Cobb
The former Packer has been banged up over the last couple of seasons, and that has subsequently hurt his production. When healthy, he's one of the most explosive receivers in the game — and an upgrade at the slot position to the departed Cole Beasley. Cobb has a lot of good football left in him (he turns 29 in August) and is positioned to thrive in Dallas with a capable collection of skill players around him.
4. Return of Jason Witten
No, you won't see Witten at his best — those days are gone. You will, however, still see a future Hall of Fame tight end who knows how to find openings in the defense to move the chains and catch everything thrown his way. Prescott has plenty of game-breakers in the huddle with him. Now he has one of the greatest security blankets in NFL history at his disposal once again.
5. Young, quality backfield depth behind Ezekiel Elliott
There's only one Zeke Elliott, and he's as close to an irreplaceable talent as there is in the NFL right now. That said, he still needs his rest, and you want to sacrifice as little as possible in terms of production when he's catching his breathers on the sideline. Enter two rookies: Tony Pollard of Memphis and Mike Weber of Ohio State. Weber has everything you want as a workhorse back to carry the load between the tackles. Pollard is a special athlete who excels as a receiver and can be a threat to score on every touch. The energy and fresh legs these two bring to the table should relieve any anxiety the Cowboys coaching staff has as to whether or not their bell-cow will be fresh and ready down the stretch and into the postseason.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.