Trey Wingo breaks down the Thursday night matchup between Dallas and Tampa Bay

    On the More Than Football podcast, PFN's Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo dissects the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    The 2021 NFL season opens with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the Dallas Cowboys. On last week’s More Than Football podcast, PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo broke down some of the key storylines between the two teams with host Brett Yarris.

    To watch this episode of More Than Football, tune in to the video player above. You can also listen to the podcast in the player at the end of the article or on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

    Is Mike McCarthy on the hot seat for the Dallas Cowboys?

    After a challenging first year, you might wonder if Mike McCarthy’s job is in jeopardy if 2021 goes poorly. Wingo thinks the answer is probably no. After all, former Cowboys head coach Dave Campo was only fired after three straight 5-11 seasons.

    Firing McCarthy would mean Jerry Jones admitting a mistake after just two years, which Wingo doesn’t believe he would do: “I just don’t see it because Jerry would then be admitting to a complete failure, and I don’t think he’s going to be wanting to do that after just two seasons.”

    Cowboys’ offense should go through Dak Prescott

    If McCarthy is going to keep his job, Dallas’ offense is going to need to perform at a high level. And despite giving Ezekiel Elliot a massive contract a few years ago, Wingo believes that Dak Prescott will be “the actuator of the offense” for the Cowboys.

    Wingo points out that, with a few exceptions (Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers), most modern football teams focus on their passing attacks. And the Cowboys clearly didn’t draft CeeDee Lamb while Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are on their roster to hand the ball off over and over again.

    More importantly, Prescott was playing at an extremely high level before his injury. If you extrapolate the statistics from the four games he played in 2020 over a full 17-game season, he would have totaled 7,100 passing yards.

    Wingo said that necessary focus on Prescott makes the deal Jerry Jones gave Elliot seem like a bad move, but ultimately, the facts seem clear: Dallas’ offense will go as far as Prescott can take them.

    How well Dallas performs will depend on their defense

    With Prescott at the helm, Wingo believes the Cowboys’ offense has enough talent to win football games. The real problem is the team’s defense, which was “historically bad” last season.

    To fix the problem, the Cowboys brought in former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who led some excellent defenses with the Seattle Seahawks. If Dallas is going to beat the Buccaneers, or anyone else this season, he will need to turn the unit around.

    Tom Brady’s most underrated skill is his competitive drive

    Unlike the Cowboys, Tampa Bay is coming into 2021 in a phenomenal position. Perhaps the biggest question regarding the Buccaneers this season is one fans have asked every year for the last decade — will age finally catch up with Tom Brady?

    Wingo doesn’t think so, in large part because of the veteran quarterback’s sheer desire to win. As he puts it:

    “The idea that Tom Brady is still that eager, and that angry, to win, is maybe his most impressive skill that no one really talks about.”

    To illustrate his point, Wingo brings up a story about a time Brady and the Patriots played in a charity basketball game against Foxborough policemen and firefighters. During the game, when Brady and his teammates were losing, Brady chewed out the other New England players and proceeded to win the game.

    That’s just the type of guy Brady is, and until he shows on the field that he’s done, Wingo isn’t interested in betting against him.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are more than Tom Brady

    Of course, Tom Brady isn’t the only reason many believe the Buccaneers will win the Super Bowl again this season. Wingo brings up just how impressive Tampa Bay was down the stretch in 2020.

    After starting the year with a 7-5 record, they proceeded to go undefeated for the rest of the year, winning their games by an average of 14.8 points. This season, they brought back all 22 starters, 23 if you include Antonio Brown.

    It’s not hard to imagine the Buccaneers carrying their momentum into 2021, and Dallas has the unfortunate honor of being their first victims of the season.

    One slim reason for optimism for the Cowboys

    With all the questions for Dallas going into the 2021 season and the likely dominance of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, you might wonder whether the Cowboys have any chance to win on Thursday night. Well, Wingo does give one reason for hope.

    Since 2004, the defending champion has only lost twice at home during their Thursday night opener. Those two teams? The 2017 Patriots, led by Tom Brady, and the 2012 New York Giants, who lost to the Dallas Cowboys. It seems as though history might be on the Cowboys’ side — which is good, because they will definitely need it.

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