Lets gooo Cowboys Nation, its the Sports Talk Line Cowboys vs Bucs Preview for week 1 of the 2022 NFL season! The Cowboys drafted well and look poised to improve upon their league leading defense, but Tom Brady is as hungry as ever and is determined to prove all his doubters wrong as he enters the 45th year of his life. Lets look at last year’s match, offseason moves, and the key matchups to watch in Sunday night’s game!
2021 vs 2022
There are some big names missing from the roster in 2022 vs 2021. Gronk, Amari Cooper, and Antonio Brown are all gone. In their place we have Cameron Brate, Jalen Tolbert, and Russel Gage. CeeDee Lamb and Chris Godwin have moved up to #1 and #2 respectively as the new faces at WR have moved into the #3 slot. The Bucs are missing Ali Marpet on the O Line, who made a TD saving tackle last year after a Jourdan Lewis INT on Tom Brady. Lewis ran 66 yards only to be tackled by Marpet with seconds left on the clock. The ‘Boys are missing LT Tyron Smith, who tore his hamstring off the bone and will be replaced by either rookie Tyler Smith or veteran Jason Peters.
The big problem for Dallas last year was their inability to run the ball or convert their takeaways into points. Zeke went 33 yards in 11 attempts against Vita Vea and Shaq Barrett, and now he’ll have to deal with Akiem Hicks as well. Tampa Bay is stacked in the middle and will force Dallas to rely on their problematic pass blocking to move the ball. The ‘Boys were kept in the game on the back of Dak playing out of his skin and the defense’s 4 takeaways through INTs and forced fumbles. This year they will need the defense to put up points as well if they want to win.
The big draft pick for the Bucs was speedy DE Logan Hall. The Houston All-American ran hurdles in college, and will be a big asset to the Bucs’ pass rush. Hall’s speed combined with Vea and Hicks’ size in the middle will make the Bucs front tough to deal with for the ailing Dallas O-Line. The Cowboys’ draft picks also included an athletic defender; Sam Williams has shined in the pre-season and will be an intimidating 1-2 punch with Parsons. The big question for Dallas is if Tyler Smith and Jalen Tolbert can adapt to the speed of the pro game quickly enough to make an impact vs the Bucs. They are both good athletes, but Dallas tends to draft projects rather than plug-and-play players. Smith might be able to maul on the run, but could easily be a liability in pass protection.
Chris Godwin vs Trevon Diggs
Trevon came on as an elite ball-hawk last season, but Tom Brady is notorious for studying his opponents religiously. Now that there’s a year of film, expect a lot of double moves and rub schemes to get Godwin past Diggs and take advantage of his aggressiveness. Diggs is a smart cookie, and if he can recognize this and adjust then the Cowboys could force Brady to play jump ball with Evans or go underneath to Brate. Either way, taking away the Bucs deep threat would buy the Cowboys valuable time to score against the GOAT.
Shaq Barret vs Tyler Smith
This is going to be a big test for the Tulsa rookie, as the Bucs will test him all day with their best pass rusher. Barret got 10.5 sacks last year and will be keen to tee off against the inexperienced guard filling in at left tackle in his first NFL professional game. Talk about trial by fire, lets see what the young man is made of.
Rachaad White vs Micah Parsons
The rookie from Arizona State is a big back who can elude tackles pretty effectively. He’s won the 2nd spot behind Fournette and will be used when they need more speed than the veteran offers. He has a massive vertical at 38″ which translates into extreme acceleration. His top end speed is only 4.58, but he has the size and strength to make up for it. What will happen when he meets Parsons in the open field?
With all that in mind, we think the Cowboys will have their hands full on Sunday night. Both O-Lines are giant question marks, while both defenses look improved. Both sides have lost some key offensive weapons, but also have smart quarterbacks who don’t like to turn the ball over. This will probably be a low-scoring game with quite a few turnovers and some big defensive highlights. If Dallas can get some defensive scores and take advantage of their take-aways then they can win, but if it becomes a contest of offenses, Brady will always win that game. See you Sunday Night!