There have only been three unpadded practices at Oxnard for the Dallas Cowboys, but that’s enough to start thinking about this year’s edition of the America’s Team, however premature it may be.

The best thing so far

Take a look at the photo at the top of this article. Depending on the device you use to read this, you may see Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Zack Martin all in uniform. This trio also dated early in training. With Dak Prescott throwing just about every target available on the field, Ezekiel Elliott looking ready to crush people, Randy Gregory turning into a monster and rookies like Micah Parsons, Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright making plays, the fat guys on. The offensive line is once again overlooked. That makes sense, because we really can’t read them properly until these pads are slipped on Wednesday, but I suggest having all the starters projected healthy as the most important thing that happens. If they stay that way, that’s the most important key to the success of this attack, and possibly the team’s overall record this year.

Yes, Prescott’s injury was the most devastating blow for the Cowboys in 2020, but by the time it happened he was already playing without any of his starting tackles. It all starts up front for the offense. With two All Pros in Smith and Martin back, as well as Collins who was definitely on the rise in 2019, and Tyler Biadasz and Iron Man Conner Williams reducing timing and coordination, this unit should be back in the rung. top of the NFL lines. Everything else in the offense will benefit. Even defense gets a boost when the attack holds the ball longer and puts more points on the board.

Give these big guys their due. They worked a lot to be ready. And boy, do they look ready.

However, there may be another thing to watch out for during camp.

Given Biadasz’s injury history, that may just be a possibility. At the very least, it is very prudent to make sure that your Plan B is in good shape.

Mike McCarthy wins – and it’s not just about what’s going on at Oxnard

The practices so far have been very good. They look crisp and well organized, and the performance to date is encouraging. That’s to McCarthy’s credit.

Meanwhile, back on his old playground with the Green Bay Packers, things are not going exactly as planned. Of the team lost money last year due to loss of income from home games, to real and mutual disenchantment with their star quarterback, at their high receiver wide also now a question mark for the coming season, they are showing all the signs of a failed franchise. When McCarthy was hired to be Dallas’ head coach, many pointed to his sacking by the Packers as the reason he may not be a good fit. While he certainly has to prove that he can perform much better this season than last, it’s increasingly clear that he wasn’t the problem at Green Bay.

The proof will be in the pudding, of course, and that will start to happen around Christmas. But it sheds new light on things to see just how badly it got in the north once McCarthy was gone.

There is also another thing that he seems to have understood correctly.

Put the reins in the hands of the coordinators

It took a year and a glaring error, but everything points to McCarthy having a great line to handle things on the pitch, both in practice and in games. The latter needs to be proven, but the camp is certainly pointing in that direction.

When McCarthy was hired, he retained Kellen Moore as his offensive coordinator. A suspicion remains that this was a condition of his employment, but publicly McCarthy has only praised Moore, who should be on the head coach shortlist if the Cowboys have the most predicted type of offensive production.

He then hired his two other coordinators, and it was a fluke. The hit was John Fassel, who immediately revolved around special teams. Mike Nolan was famous the miss. His hiring was widely seen to be based on his relationship with McCarthy. He has done a terrible job adjusting to the restrictions of the pandemic. His players failed to grasp and execute the plan. Long before the end of the season, he had clearly lost the defensive part of the locker room.

Some might say he was a scapegoat, but given how bad things were, it was almost inevitable to leave him. However, once Dan Quinn was recruited, the same arguments surfaced that he was an example of how the “old boys network” leads to constant retraining of the same coaches for key jobs.

The first three days of practice, as well as what was observed during OTAs, changed the way of thinking on this subject a lot. Quinn is proving to be a highly skilled and personally involved teacher, investing extra one-on-one time in players like Randy Gregory and Micah Parsons who are expected to play big roles in defense. It seems to be going very well on the pitch, with a relative handful of missed homework and reading so far.

More importantly, McCarthy keeps his hands out, letting the coordinators run their parts of the show. Even when he sees bad things coming.

Letting mistakes happen while you can learn without hurting you is good leadership.

While it’s far too early to say that Quinn will be what we hope for, nothing has happened to discourage the idea. If it is, and Moore and Fassel continue to do the job they’ve been doing (and the first four weeks of last season were a true indication of the potential of this attack), this could be a very strong team. strong. Maybe it’s time to start talking about a new kind of triplets.

Well, not quite yet, of course.

A player who can surprise

At this point, it’s not just the offensive line that’s being overlooked. Their counterparts on the other side of the fray also struggle to stand out without padded work. This is especially true for interior linemen. Passers like Gregory can play splash games, and the battle between receiver and defender is a real strength generator. But those defensive tackles just have a much less glamorous and visible job, locking the middle of the line against the run, or pushing the pocket to give rushers and blitzers a shot at the quarterback.

So that says something that second year DT Neville Gallimore is generating buzz.

That the reporters and your head coach notice you in a positive way is a very good thing. To do it from such a difficult position to notice is truly impressive.

Lots of offseason action was taken to address the inside defensive line issues last year, in all phases of the game. They signed Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins, then wrote Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna. Perhaps a big part of the answer, however, is Gallimore’s improvement in second year. No one will complain in the least.

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