Mac Engel

Tony Dungy likes the Dallas Cowboys with one vexing concern

Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys this season, but he does have one big concern. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys this season, but he does have one big concern. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File) AP

Tony Dungy wants you, me, and the world to know he likes the Dallas Cowboys, and specifically quarterback Dak Prescott. Even head coach Jason Garrett.

Please note that Dungy is one of the kindest, most gentle souls ever to be associated with the NFL. He’s the type of person who would not criticize or complain about the wind in a dust storm. He is the kind of person who could befriend IRS agent while he is being audited.

Perhaps it’s just Dungy being Dungy when he says he thinks the Dallas Cowboys are a playoff team. Or maybe he means it.

At this juncture in our lives of following America’s Most Consistently Disappointing Team, we should all revel in Dungy’s assessment of the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

“I do think they are in the mix of about 12 teams in the NFC that are right there to make the playoffs,” the Hall of Fame former coach of the Buccaneers and Colts told me in a recent interview as he travels with his wife to promote their new children’s books. “With Philadelphia, they’re in a tough division.

“Behind Ezekiel Elliott and that offensive line, there are a lot of things to like about Dallas. My concern for the Cowboys is, who is going to replace Jason Witten? Who is going to replace Dez Bryant? Their defense looks to be very solid, but the concern I think you’d have to have for the Cowboys is their young group of receivers. They lost a lot in those two guys and replacing them isn’t going to be easy to fill that void.”

And there you have it from a Hall of Fame coach who is one of the top analysts on NBC’s NFL Sunday night talk fest.

Through three of the most dull, worthless and unwatchable fake games in the history of fake NFL football, we have seen the Cowboys’ first-stringers play pretty decent defense. We have learned that linebacker Jaylon Smith is healthy, that Randy Gregory can play, that cornerback Chido Awuzie is a player, and that the secondary looks much better with a decent pass rush.

We also have not been provided any solid answers to Dungy’s concern about this team.

There is more continued misplaced fascination with former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers than there is any enthusiasm for the players who will actually succeed Witten at tight end. Watching Gathers play football, he should have pursued a basketball career in Europe where he could have made several hundred thousand dollars for years.

Gathers made the roster because Jerry Jones owns the team and is fascinated by Rico’s athleticism, but at this point it’s apparent the coaches are just about at the end with Rico Time. He’s not going to be Antonio Gates or Tony Gonzalez, two former college basketball players who successfully transitioned to the NFL as tight ends.

Witten’s real successor is not on the roster. At this point, just hope one of the four tight ends who made it - Rico, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz - can block the right guy, and don’t get Dak killed.

Which brings us to Dez’s replacement.

Free agent addition Allen Hurns plays and acts like a real pro, but he does not possess the pop that scares a defensive back, or an opposing coach. Defensive backs may respect Hurns, but they don’t fear him.

There are no receivers an opposing defense fears, and the only one who looks to have that is rookie third round pick Michael Gallup.

Both in training camp, and during the fake games, Dak consistently found Gallup in open, and tight, spaces. If Gallup can move Terrance Williams into a supplementary role early in the season, the Cowboys have a major find.

The only player opposing coaches fear is Zeke, and his entire offensive line.

Dungy likes the Cowboys for all the of the right reasons, and all of his concerns are equally valid, too.

Thank God the real games are here to provide the answers.

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