The Dallas Cowboys are heading into this season in a difficult situation. They are coming off of a brutal and disappointing season, and an uneasy offseason has left many people wondering how successful they can be this season.
On offense, everyone knows who they need to lean on in order to be successful. Ezekiel Elliot behind that offensive line needs to create most of the offense, and make sure Dak Prescott is in a good position to make things happen in the passing game.
The reality, however, is the Cowboys may not have enough talent on that end to be an overall dominant offense. They need to be able to trust their defense and they need that side of the ball to help make up for the many issues that might exist on offense this season.
The frustrating part is the Cowboys really did not make a lot of noise with their defense. They did not add the kind of talent that could transform them, making it difficult to think they can really turn it around this year.
The difference with the defense, however, is how much young talent that should be developing more this season. They have done a great job of building the talent of the defense, but things will only work out if they can trust that young talent to step up and carry things this season.
Demarcus Lawrence has to be utterly dominant. The Cowboys have lacked a truly dominant pass rusher since DeMarcus Ware, but they believe that Lawrence will be able to have a top impact for them. He needs to be making plays like the best pass rushers in the entire league, and be able to take over games when it matters most. At 26 years old, he needs to be showcasing the prime years of his career and is the player the Cowboys will have the most confidence in.
We have also seen Byron Jones grow into a tremendous player in his short career. The Cowboys have been unfair in how they have handled his position, but he looks ready to settle down into the kind of role that will make him a premier defender in the secondary.
The Cowboys need him to be the guy they can trust with any matchup. He needs to be dynamic and he needs to make sure he is disrupting as much as possible. Jones is one of the most unique athletes in the NFL, and the Cowboys will not survive if he starts to struggle at any point.
The Cowboys have young players that have showcased enough for them to be trusted. Both Jones and Lawrence have set a certain standard for this team, but they need to be even better this season. They are the ones that need to be thinking about defensive player of the year possibilities, and if they are not that good this Cowboys defense may never be good enough.
There are also intriguing options like Jaylon Smith. There are a lot of unknowns on this Cowboys defense, but they have invested a lot of draft picks on defense. Smith is the first one you look to because he really does stand out. He could have been a top pick in his draft without all the issues surrounding him, and has the kind of talent to be the best player on this defense.
Unfortunately, like many other players on this defense, there is not enough to trust them with very much. The potential is tremendous and is the key to this team being successful, but it is still unclear as to whether or not they will truly be capable starters in the NFL.
There will be more pressure on the defense this season, and simply maintaining the way they have played throughout their career will not be enough to improve this defense enough. The young talent the Cowboys have on defense can be the key to their success this season, with an offense that could struggle to take over games on a consistent basis this season.