Daryl Johnston concerned about Cowboys after offseason outings

The Dallas Cowboys will field a markedly different team in 2022. On paper, they also look a lot less talented.

A handful of notable starters have left, including Pro Bowl wide Amari Cooper and emerging defenseman Randy Gregory. And in Tuesday’s edition of “The Herd,” FOX Sports analyst and former Cowboys star guard Daryl Johnston said this offseason has produced far more questions than answers for Team USA.

The biggest problem, for Johnston, concerns the offensive line.

Cowboys offseason moves broken down by Daryl “Moose” Johnston

Cowboys offseason moves broken down by Daryl

Daryl “Moose” Johnston joins Colin Cowherd to discuss the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason moves, including the departures of Randy Gregory and Amari Cooper.

“That’s the one I focused on with the departure of La’el Collins and Connor Williams, Tyron Smith towards the end of his career,” Johnston said. “They’re the only positional group that I think really needed attention, and they just haven’t been able to hit like they did five or eight years ago.

“I think the starting five has always been one of the cornerstones of the Dallas Cowboys franchise. When you talk about them being successful, and if anything for me this season is how reinforce they this offensive line? How do they regain control of the game by directing the football?

Maybe, through the NFL Draft. Johnston said he would be “shocked” if the offensive line wasn’t the top priority after the Cowboys failed to add to the unit in free agency.

Such an initiative could prove vital to both aspects of the offence. While quarterback health has seemingly been the No. 1 factor in the Cowboys’ success in recent years, a strong and at times dominant running game has helped them overcome leaky defensive play heading into 2021.

Last year’s rushing offense was in the middle of the pack in the NFL — it ranked No. 13 in DVOA — and overtook one of the best passing outfits in the league. Of course, Dallas also has some holes to fill with its receiving corps after trading Cooper and allowing Cedrick Wilson to walk into free agency. His only addition so far, former Steelers reserve James Washington, brings big-play potential.

The good news for the Cowboys: The 2022 draft is loaded with receiver and O-line prospects. The bad news is that they don’t have an abundance of draft capital to work with. Dallas holds the 24th overall pick and only one selection in each of the first four rounds.

“I think Amari Cooper makes everybody better in the wide receiver room,” Johnston said. “Is Michael Gallup as good as he is without having had the opportunity to hang out with Amari Cooper? I don’t know. It’s going to be the interesting thing to watch this year. I think Cedrick Wilson is an under-the-radar loss in this wide reception hall that nobody really talks about.

“It’s going to be tough outside.

All of this could make for a tough 2022 campaign. Significant roster changes were inevitable this spring, with the Cowboys initially topping the cap by more than $20 million. But after easily winning the NFC East and earning its most wins since 2016 (12), Dallas looks no closer to making its first deep playoff run this century.

Anyway, this year will be decisive for coach Mike McCarthy. Colin Cowherd asked Johnston if he thought there was a time after the team lost when McCarthy was in danger of being fired.

“No, I didn’t,” Johnston said. “Are you making a coaching change? I don’t think so, because he did enough during his time in Dallas to earn a right for another year, I felt.”

The jury is out on whether Johnston is majority or minority regarding McCarthy’s employment status.

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