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The case for and against Dallas Cowboys winning the NFC East

The Dallas Cowboys have enough firepower to win the NFC East in 2021. Here's a closer look at how they can claim the division, and what may hold them back.

Tairiq Marshall
Hard Knocks, Dallas Cowboys
Dec 22, 2019; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) runs off the field after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Any words synonymous with quiet used to describe the Dallas Cowboys would be rather atypical for the franchise and its fan base. Peculiarly enough, however, it’s been exactly that this offseason as the only splash move the team has made was re-signing their franchise quarterback several weeks ago. 

Dallas’ reticence may leave a fan torn between anticipation and excitement for the upcoming season or apprehension and worry that the organization wasn’t aggressive enough in addressing roster needs.

Regardless of what side of the spectrum one may fall on, there’s as much room for excitement as there is concern for the most polarizing team in the NFL. 

Here are two reasons why America’s Team is in a prime position to run away with the NFC East title as well as the biggest deterrent preventing them from reaching prosperity. 

Continuity with OC Kellen Moore is huge for Dallas Cowboys’ NFC East hopes

Continuity with OC Kellen Moore is huge for Dallas Cowboys' NFC East hopes
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is entering his third year at the helm of calling plays for Dallas’ high powered offense and will ultimately be the X-factor this year. 

When Moore opted not to pursue his alma mater’s head coaching vacancy but instead chose to sign a multiyear extension to remain the Cowboys’ play-caller, it could be surmised that the 32-year-old is salivating at the potential matchup nightmares he could create for opposing defenses with a unit featuring the likes of Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott, and CeeDee Lamb. 

Dallas ranked within the top five in yards per game, second in passing and fifth in rushing, with an eighth-best scoring offense in 2019. But an injury plagued offensive line as well as a season-ending surgery for his starting quarterback derailed Moore’s attempt at a follow-up season with a similar level of productivity last year.

A full offseason of recovery for the starters and a few amendments to the offensive philosophy could mean that we will see the Cowboys ascend to new heights under Kellen Moore in his third go-round calling the shots. 

Dak Prescott’s return gives Dallas Cowboys top NFC East QB

Dak Prescott's return gives Dallas Cowboys top NFC East QB
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas’ franchise signal-caller recently became a rich man after signing a lucrative four year $160 million contract extension this offseason. And an abysmal 2020 for America’s team reverberated, louder than ever, how important it is to have Dak Prescott under center for this franchise. 

Five games into last season, before suffering a compound fracture and dislocation in his right ankle, the 27-year-old QB was the glue holding the Cowboys together while overcoming a debilitated o-line and an atrocious defense. 

Coming off of a catastrophic injury, Prescott will once again have to prove that he is the stabilizer of a team still oversaturated with superstars on offense. 

His elite weaponry outside along with an ascending offensive coordinator to work with puts Prescott in a position to make a meritorious comeback in 2021.

If there’s anyone with enough moxie and toughness to overcome any impediment and elevate those around him, it’s No. 4. 

Related: NFL QB Rankings – Check our top-20 quarterbacks, find out why Josh Allen is No. 1

The big flaw that could derail Dallas Cowboys’ NFC East title bid

The big flaw that could derail Dallas Cowboys' NFC East title bid
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that Dallas’ defensive woes were unbearable to watch all last season. In fact, it explains why former defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, was fired after just one season and replaced by Dan Quinn

Defense has clearly been a priority this offseason as eight of their free-agent acquisitions and re-signings have been on that side of the ball. Presuming that defense will be the point of emphasis in this year’s draft as well, the Cowboys’ fate will be contingent upon their improvement under Quinn’s tutelage.

Quinn was brought over from the Atlanta Falcons after serving as their head coach. Mike McCarthy will defer to Quinn to galvanize a unit that could not generate a consistent pass rush, stop the run, nor force turnovers in the secondary in 2020. 

Signings of players very familiar with Quinn’s scheme like Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee enable Dallas to focus their attention on other positional needs of the defense such as cornerback and pass-rusher. 

With both the Washington Football Team and the New York Giants adding more firepower on offense, the Cowboys can’t afford to try outscoring every opponent in 2021. Furthermore, without continued adjustments on defense, the Cowboys fan base will experience another underwhelming year of disappointment irrespective of the anticipation. 

Read More: Dallas Cowboys mock draft: Latest 7-round 2021 NFL Draft projection