Football fans are in the dog days of summer right now.
The next meaningful bit of team activity will come on July 26th when the Cowboys report to Oxnard, California for training camp.
Who knows, maybe Dallas will finally pick up the phone and make some free agency moves for the fans and media to talk about.
Until that happens, here are three long-shot predictions to think about before the 2022 season kicks off in 73 days.
Tony Pollard will combine for more rushing and receiving yards than Zeke Elliott
This may come as a shock, but Pollard actually had more all-purpose yards than Elliott last season. Pollard had 1,545 yards, the ninth-most in the NFL, while Elliott ranked 25th on the list.
The reason Pollard gained so many more yards is thanks to his role as the Cowboys kickoff returner. Pollard gained 489 yards bringing the ball back on special teams.
As far as just rushing and receiving yards are concerned, Elliott had 1,289 yards and Pollard had 1,056 yards. But Pollard won’t need the special teams yards to outgain Elliott in 2022.
Head coach Mike McCarthy commented during OTAs that Dallas has formulated a plan to get both backs more playing time, without taking snaps from either player. Pollard will still get action as Elliott’s back-up, but he’ll also see time as a slot receiver.
Pollard’s 337 receiving yards ranked 16th among running backs last season. This stat may not jump off the page at you, but Pollard was only on the field for 35% of the Cowboys offensive snaps.
With that number due to spike this season, Pollard will have the chance to tear it up as a pass catcher. Which will result in Pollard combining for more rushing plus receiving yards than Elliott.
CeeDee Lamb will blossom into a top 10 wide receiver
It’s crazy to think in Lamb’s third season, he could be challenging the top wide receivers in the game. But considering Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson each finished top four in receiving yards per game in year one and year two of their careers, respectively, then Lamb’s inexperience shouldn’t be held against him.
The former Oklahoma Sooners’ 1,012 receiving yards were the 14th-most among wide outs last year. But with Amari Cooper traded away to the Cleveland Browns, Lamb takes the reins as WR1 for Dallas.
Getting more looks from Dak Prescott will help Lamb breeze past his receiving yards total last season. What he really needs to work on is finding the endzone more. Lamb had just six touchdowns in 2021, something he will improve upon in 2022 to catapult him into discussions as a top 10 wide receiver at season’s end.
Mike McCarthy will retain his job into 2023
Cowboys fans were not pleased with the clock management and play-calling by McCarthy in the Wild Card Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Emotions were high for Jerry Jones, too. The Cowboys owner and general manager wouldn’t comment on McCarthy’s job safety going into this season.
It’s to the point that if you read enough ‘Cowboys bold predictions’ articles from various outlets, having ‘Mike McCarthy will be fired’ has jumped the shark. So we’re flipping it around and putting a vote of confidence behind McCarthy for this season.
Here are our reasons why:
- We’ve previously predicted the Cowboys to win the NFC East with a 12-5 record, just like 2021. For many of Dallas’ key contributors, it was their first time in the postseason. This year, they’ll not only win the division, but make a run in the playoffs. Jones would be crazy to fire McCarthy after that.
- Considering how long Jones kept former coach Jason Garrett around for, his leash is a little longer than we think. Garrett was a tick above average in his 10 seasons with Dallas, holding an all-time record of 85-67. Impressive considering Garrett didn’t have a season above .500 until year five.
During his tenure, Garrett’s Cowboys made the playoffs three times with but a single win to show for it. Unless McCarthy has a 9-8 record or worse, his job will be safe. But that would be tough to do considering Dallas’ opponents combined for a .462 win percentage, making for the second-easiest schedule in the NFL.