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NFL Commentary: 2013 Dallas Cowboys Preview, and Team Concerns.
The Dallas Cowboys.
Whether you love or hate the Dallas Cowboys, there is one thing that is for certain; they are and will always be one of the most intriguing and talked about teams in the NFL. Some of the talk about the Cowboys can be attributed to positive accomplishments such as the team's Super Bowl victories during the 90's, or the legendary players that have donned the big blue star on their helmets.
On the other hand, much of the talk regarding the Cowboys is negative and even as a fan of the team, I can honestly say that much of that criticism is deserving. For the dominance that the Cowboys displayed during the 1990's, they are still a team that went ten whole years without a playoff victory. Also, the Cowboys always needing to be in the spotlight team owner and general manager, Jerry Jones, often rubs football fans the wrong way.
After finishing their 2012 campaign with an 8-8 record and missing out on a playoff birth for the third straight season, the Dallas Cowboys will once again be looking to redeem themselves. Unfortunately, redemption has become a narrative that has become all too common for Cowboys fans. Although the Washington Redskins won the NFC Eastern Division last season, the division is up for grabs once again. Do the Cowboys have a legit shot at finishing ahead of the Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles? There have been improvements made within the Cowboys organization, but there are some concerns that I have in regards to the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2013 season.
Dez Bryant Finally Showed In 2012 Why He Was the Cowboys First Pick in the 2010 Draft.
Highs and Lows of 2012.
Like the past few seasons, the Dallas Cowboys 2012 season was again filled with ups and downs, but there were arguably more downs than ups. There was a ton of inconsistent play on both sides of the ball from the Cowboys in 2012. The inconsistent play resulted in the Cowboys to falling behind in multiple games playing catch up, and becoming a one dimensional offense. The Cowboys also had several key players that either battled injuries throughout the season, or missed most if not all of the year.A few of those players include running back Demarco Murray, wide receiver Miles Austin, linebacker Sean Lee, and defenisve back Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys ranked ninth in the NFL in terms of players on injured reserve in 2012.
Despite the Cowboys woes from 2012, there were a few high points that took place in 2012. First off, tight end Jason Witten continued to be the consistent player on offense that he's been for several years now. Witten surpassed former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin's franchise record of 750 receptions during the Cowboys week 9 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Witten also recorded 18 receptions in week 8 against the New York Giants. The 18 receptions set a new Cowboys franchise record for most receptions in a single game.
Secondly, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant finally began to live up to his first round draft pick potential from 2010. Bryant finished 2012 with 92 receptions for 1,382 yards, and 12 touchdown passes. Bryant's numbers ranked him in the top ten in these categories among NFL receivers, and managed to do this with an injured finger for much of the season. Finally, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware became the second fastest player to reach 100 sacks. Ware also became the 29th player in NFL history to record 100 or sacks.
Regarded As One of the Great Defensive Coordinators In NFL History, Monte Kiffin Takes Over The Dallas Cowboys Defense.
Personnel Changes During the Off Season, and Romo's Big Extension.
The Cowboys made several personnel changes following 2012. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was let go after only two seasons in Dallas. In 2012, the Cowboys defense ranked 14th in yards allowed per game, and 16th in points allowed per game. These numbers were similar to the Cowboys defensive stats in 2011, which was another season where the Cowboys missed out on the playoffs. To help remedy this, Monte Kiffin was hired as the Cowboys defensive coordinator on January 11, 2013. Days later, Rod Marinelli would be hired as the Cowboys defensive line coach.
Since becoming the full time head coach for the Dallas Cowboys in 2011, Jason Garrett has been the Cowboys play caller. Garrett has now relinquished those duties, and they have been turned over to Bill Callahan, who is now the Cowboys offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. The Dallas Cowboys offensive line has been shaky for several seasons now, which is maybe why the team drafted center Travis Frederick with their first round pick. Other key draft picks for the Cowboys included tight end Gavin Escobar, wide receiver Terrance Williams, corner back B.W. Webb, and running back Joseph Randle.
Perhaps the biggest off season surprise was the huge extension that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo got. Romo's deal includes a 6 year extension worth $108 million. $55 million would be guaranteed. This deal pretty much sealed Tony Romo as the Cowboys quarterback of the future, and he'll most likely end his career in Dallas now. The decision was met with both shock and surprise by many fans, analysts, and former players - with many of whom felt Romo wasn't deserving of the extension.
Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones Has Made Tony Romo Dallas's QB of the Future. They Are Both On the Hot Seat.
Although I've read and seen many analysts picking the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East, I'm positive that there are just as many people who aren't totally sold on Dallas despite the moves the franchise has made. As a fan myself, I'm always going to be confident in my team. However, I can't help but express some concerns when it comes to the Cowboys.
- Tony Romo: Believe it or not, I'm a part of the group that believes Tony Romo isn't a bad quarterback. Since becoming the Cowboys full time starter in 2007, Tony Romo has thrown for over 4,000 yards four seasons. In fact, Romo threw for more yards than Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2012. If we were judging Tony Romo on his statistics, his name would probably be mentioned with the likes of Brady, Manning, Rodgers, and Brees. However, a person's reputation precedes them, and Romo has a reputation for folding in big games. Until I see Tony Romo step up big in a big game, there will always be a question mark next to his name from me regardless of how talented he is.Tony Romo is a good quarterback; he's just not an elite one.
- Demarco Murray's Health: Cowboys running back Demarco Murray isn't lacking in talent. The former Oklahoma Sooner has all of the intangibles to be the Cowboys running back of the future. Murray took over the starting duties midway through the 2011 season, and done quite well in that role until being sidelined with an injury. Murray became the Cowboys top RB on the depth chart in 2012, but once again battled injuries during the season. Murray missed six games, and his durability as a starter has come into question. Despite Murray's injuries, he has averaged 4.1 yards per carry for his career. If he can stay healthy this season, he should continue to remain at the top of the depth chart. However, there is always a question mark next to Murray regarding his durability.
- Defensive Changes: Although the Cowboys have Monte Kiffin as their defensive coordinator, I can't help but worry. Now under Kiffin, the Cowboys will be switching from a 3-4 to 4-3 base defense. The fact that their defensive formation is changing doesn't bother me that much. When Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells respectively were in the head coaching seat for the Cowboys, the team ran the 4-3 defense. What bothers me is that the team hasn't run it in several years, and it may take more than one season for the personnel to become acclimated to a new defensive scheme. Hopefully there will be improvements from what Rob Ryan wasn't able to accomplish, but the question marks about the defense are legitimate in my mind.
- The Offensive Line: Out of all the concerns I have regarding the Cowboys for 2013, I'd have to say that the offensive line is my biggest worry. The Cowboys offensive line has been like a juggling act in a circus for the past few months. Injuries and bad play quite frankly have been the reasons for the constant changes. Several of the Cowboys offensive lineman have been playing different positions besides what they're accustomed to in the preseason. Cowboys left guard Nate Livings has had multiples surgeries on his knee, and has been placed on IR. This is a big blow to an already questionable lineup.
Who Will Finish First In the NFC East Division?
It's tough for me to make a prediction on how the Cowboys will do this season. The fan within me has them picked to finish with a 10-6 record. However, the rational side of me has them projected to finish 8-8. From what I've been reading, most of the analysts are predicting the Cowboys to be much better this year, and that's honestly understandable.
The Cowboys have all the tools to be a great team. Tony Romo has developed a great rapport with Dez Bryant, and I can see Bryant's ceiling rising even higher this year. Romo also still has a security blanket with his tight end Jason Witten. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys still have their sack specialist DeMarcus Ware, and they will be getting linebacker Sean Lee back.
Dallas's problems don't lie within their levels of talent, but rather with their players ability to stay healthy. If the offensive line holds up and key players can remain healthy, then the Cowboys can easily finish with one of the leagues best records. If the opposite takes place, I can see another 8-8 season happening. I'm on the fence since the opposite has dominated the past few seasons. There have and always will be questions about Jerry Jones's decisions. If the Cowboys happen to not improve beyond their past two seasons, the legitimacy of Jones as an owner and general manager will be more greater than ever.