The Dallas Cowboys are filled with anticipation for the upcoming season, fueled by the bitter taste of a disappointing playoff loss last year. With a revamped offense and a defense that appears even more formidable than in 2022, the Cowboys have a prime opportunity to unveil their true potential against the New York Giants in their season opener. Here are a few crucial aspects to keep an eye on during the game. These can really help provide valuable insights that may shed light on the Cowboys’ prospects for success throughout the rest of the season.
5 Keys to Watch in the 2023 Dallas Cowboys Season Opener
Offensive Line vs. Giants’ Defensive Front
The Cowboys’ offensive line will have their hands full against the Giants’ tough defensive front. With players like Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence II, the Giants pose a significant challenge for the Cowboys. However, if the offensive line can win in the trenches, a new backfield led by Tony Pollard could fill the void left by Ezekiel Elliott and establish themselves early against a formidable opponent.
Keeping an eye on the progress of Cowboys’ left guard Tyler Smith will be crucial. He had a solid performance last year, and Dallas is counting on him to continue playing at a high level and stay healthy this season.
“After getting that first year under my belt, I understand what the expectation is,” Smith said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’ve gone through camp, OTAs, I’ve been through the season before. Being comfortable and acclimated to what I need to do has helped me a lot — in terms of being confident and who I am. That first year was kind of nervous. Everything was new. Going to a new locker room and some of the guys are like 30, 34. I was used to being in a locker room with 18-23-year-olds. Getting acclimated with the guys helped me a lot.”
Interior Run Defense
As the Dallas Cowboys prepare for the upcoming season, there is no doubt that the development of first-round pick Mazi Smith will be crucial for their interior run game defense. A defensive tackle, Smith is positioned to play a key role in defending against inside runs. His ability to disrupt the offensive line and control the gaps will be paramount to the team’s overall run defense.
By drawing double teams, Smith will create opportunities for other defenders to shine. Players like linebacker Micah Parsons and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence will be able to capitalize on the space created by Smith’s presence on the field.
Smith’s impact won’t be limited to run defense. As he continues to develop his strength and agility, he will be able to disrupt the pocket and put pressure on the quarterback. In the upcoming game, it will be exciting to see Smith’s progress on the field. As he takes on more reps and continues to develop under Quinn’s guidance, fans will no doubt see glimpses of the growth and potential that make him such an exciting player for the Cowboys.
The Dallas defense dominated the league in turnovers (takeaways) during the 2022 season they finished first in the league. With the addition of veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore and talented playmakers like Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons, the Cowboys have the potential to maintain their turnover-forcing success.
Generating multiple turnovers against the Giants could play a crucial role in securing a victory. I think we will see an even more dominating pass rush, paving the way for a stellar year for Gilmore and Diggs.
Brandon Cooks and Stephon Gilmore
The Cowboys made significant offseason signings, adding Cooks and Gilmore to their team. During camp, both players showcased their potential not only as players but also as leaders for the up-and-coming talent on the Cowboys’ roster. With the season now here, it’s time for them to translate their potential into on-field production.
The first week of a team can sometimes be disorganized and lacking discipline. However, with the addition of two experienced veterans and the presence of essentially two head coaches. I am expecting this team to exhibit improved discipline and focus in the season opener, setting them apart from other teams.
After a disappointing playoff loss last year, the Cowboys’ head coach Mike McCarthy will resume his duties as offensive play-caller in 2023. With former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore now in San Diego, McCarthy’s play-calling will be under scrutiny. Can he help quarterback Dak Prescott reduce his interception rate and lead the offense to success against the Giants?
It’ll be important to monitor the team’s frequency of going 3 and out or failing to sustain drives. These areas can significantly impact the team’s defense, as it may result in longer periods on the field, leading to a higher risk of injuries.
As the season opener edges closer, the anticipation builds. The Cowboys, bolstered by new signings and a reshuffle in the coaching staff, are poised to start strong. The stakes are high for Coach McCarthy, as he reassumes his role as offensive play-caller. Will his strategies unlock Prescott’s potential and circumvent the Giants’ defense? This Cowboys’ journey is just beginning.
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