The anticipation for the 2023 NFL season kicks up a notch on Thursday night as the league reveals the full schedule at 8 p.m. ET. Ahead of the schedule release, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman joined ESPN to discuss his former squad’s hopes this year.
According to Aikman, quarterback Dak Prescott is still the man to lead Dallas to the promised land. The former fourth-rounder had a career-high in interceptions last season but the Monday Night Football broadcaster isn’t fretting over that stat.
“I’m a big fan of Dak’s, which I’ve said many, many times,” Aikman said. “What I like most about him is all that matters to him is winning games. The stats and everything that goes with that are not important. He knows how he’s being measured and that, ultimately, is in winning championships.”
“They’ve come up short, I know you referenced the interceptions from last year, certainly not all of them were on him as they never are on a quarterback but I thought there were a lot of things that could be done a bit differently to help him,” Aikman continued. “I know Mike McCarthy this year is taking over the play-calling, that will be interesting to see how that goes. They’re a really talented football team and I thought they did a lot of really good things to make themselves better this offseason. But as Cowboys fans have heard so many times, there’s always optimism coming into the season and it’s ended, unfortunately, in a lot of disappointment. Time will tell.”
The 2023 offseason has been one of major changes for the Cowboys. On top of adding eight new faces via the NFL Draft, Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy re-vamped the staff and the roster.
Cowboys sign veteran starters, defensive stars to new deals
Notable names no longer with the Cowboys are TE Dalton Schultz, WR Noah Brown, OL Connor McGovern and DT Carlos Watkins. Also gone is Ezekiel Elliott who was the last remaining draftee from Prescott’s draft class, aside from the QB. Dallas released Elliott after seven seasons, saving major cap space for the 2023 season.
The team opted not to renew the contracts of eight coaching staff members after the 2022 season. Most notably, the move sent offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier packing.
After the staff departures, Dallas won big by holding on to defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for at least another season. Then, McCarthy promoted Brian Schottenheimer to OC after revealing his plans to take over playcalling himself in 2023. They also assigned Scott Tolzein the role of quarterbacks coach.
In an uncharacteristic move, the Cowboys were active early in free agency. They signed safety Donovan Wilson, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, DE Dante Fowler and tackle Johnathan Hankins. They also franchise-tagged Tony Pollard to keep him off the free-agency market.
Jerry Jones and his front office also executed trades that sent two 2023 fifth-round picks out of Dallas in exchange for former Texans wideout Brandin Cooks and former Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Dallas also signed outside free agents this offseason, picking up running back Ronald Jones, offensive lineman Chuma Edoga and long snapper Trent Sieg.