It’s not always pretty, but QB Dak Prescott has won early and often in his career. He is 32–16 in the regular season, with a career passer rating of 96.0 and two Pro Bowl trips. The Cowboys trust in Prescott as their quarterback for now and for the future. Prescott has a new position coach in former Cowboys backup quarterback Jon Kitna, with Prescott’s former backup, Kellen Moore, moving to offensive coordinator. Cooper Rush and Mike White remain behind Prescott, who has never missed a start in three seasons.
Ezekiel Elliott became one of the NFL’s best backs the day the Cowboys drafted him fourth overall. Elliott has 4,048 career yards, leading the league in rushing in 2016 and 2018, with a six-game NFL suspension in 2017 preventing him from making it three for three. The Cowboys got Elliott more involved in the passing game last season. He had more receptions (77) than his first two years combined (58), almost as many yards with 567, and his three receiving TDs matched his previous career total. Elliott is a three-down back, and as he goes, the Cowboys offense goes. Dallas drafted Tony Pollard and Mike Weber to back up Elliott. Pollard is a versatile player who also can play receiver and will factor in the return game, while Weber is a more traditional three-down back. Fullback Jamize Olawale played 10.6 percent of the offensive snaps last season, mostly on short yardage.
The Cowboys believed a receiver-by-committee approach would work after they cut No. 1 receiver Dez Bryant during the 2018 offseason. They were wrong. To their credit, they corrected their mistake at the trade deadline, acquiring Amari Cooper from Oakland. Cooper revived the team’s offense and quickly became Prescott’s favorite target. The Cowboys lost Cole Beasley in free agency to Buffalo, but they signed Randall Cobb, whom they expect to be as good as or better than Beasley in the slot. Michael Gallup is expected to start opposite Cooper after showing great promise as a rookie. Allen Hurns will compete to find a role this season, along with Noah Brown and Cedrick Wilson.
Jason Witten is back, with less hair, unretiring after one season in the broadcast booth. Witten will play only around 25 snaps per game, so his contribution as a leader in the locker room and meeting room could prove even bigger than his numbers on the field. He return should not hinder the development of the team’s other tight ends, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz and possibly Rico Gathers. The Cowboys love how Jarwin came into his own in 2018, and after using a fourth-round pick on Schultz last year, they did not attempt to re-sign Geoff Swaim in free agency.
Joe Looney did an admirable job replacing Travis Frederick at center last season when Frederick sat out recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. But Looney isn’t a four-time Pro Bowler, and thus, Frederick’s return could mean the most to the Cowboys this season. Martin remains the best right guard in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl honors for a fifth time in five seasons, and Tyron Smith remains one of the game’s top left tackles. La’el Collins has not lived up to expectations, but he’s still better than most right tackles. Xavier Su’a-Filo and last year’s second-round choice, Connor Williams, will compete for the left guard job. Williams, a three-year starter at left tackle in college, could move to right tackle in 2020 since Collins is in the final year of his deal. The Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern to take over eventually at left guard.
So, is this the Cowboys' year to win it all? All 22 players who started in their divisional playoff game last season are back. That's a great start.