This time in our tour through the NFL, we come to the Dallas Cowboys, the most overhyped team in all American sports. The Cowboys are coming off yet another disappointing season, and most likely going into yet another disappointing season. That’s what happens when there is never a realistic assessment of just how good a team really is.
Doing the heaving lifting on this preview is Steven Mullenax from The Landry Hat
Biggest Team Need Heading Into Offseason: Defensive backfield, Offensive Line, Defensive Pass Rush
Key Free Agents Retained: LB, Anthony Spencer.
Key Player Additions: CB, Brandon Carr. LB, Dan Connor. S Brodney Poole. QB, Kyle Orton. FB, Lawrence Vickers.
Key Players Leaving: CB, Terence Newman. WR Laurent Robinson. TE, Martellus Bennett. LB, Bradie James. LB, Keith Brooking.
Quick Thoughts on Draft: The Dallas Cowboys’ draft can be summed up in two words: Morris Claiborne. The top defensive back in the draft will help the Cowboys’ ailing defensive backfield. Outside of Claiborne, no other drafted player is expected to become an immediate starter on a team with lingering holes on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Quick Thoughts on 2012 schedule: The Cowboys will have a tough time making the playoffs this year. Not only are they smack dab in the middle of arguably the most competitive division in football, the NFC East, but they will also face some very tough non-divisional opponents. They include the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Atlanta Falcons. Combine that with facing newcomers the Carolina Panthers and the Cincinnati Bengals at home, and you have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.
Most Interesting Roster Battle: Although I believe it is a moot point, the battle for the third wide receiver position is a hot topic within the Cowboy fandom. The vacancy left by wideout Laurent Robinson has been a point of wide speculation since he left for Jacksonville in free agency. Currently, five different receivers are in play for the open roster spot.
Biggest Strength Heading Into 2012: Unbelievably, it appears to be the quarterback position. Romo had a great statistical year last year and the addition of Kyle Orton adds quality veteran depth as he is probably the best back-up in the NFL.
Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2012: Offensive Line. The Cowboys added two mediocre lineman in free agency, Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, in an attempt to get bigger and wiser at the guard position. They did not address the O-line issues at all in the draft. Instead, they signedundrafted free agent and walking injury concern, Ronald Leary out of Memphis, Even with these additions, Dallas still has major issues at center.
Biggest Question Still To Be Answered: Can the Cowboys improve their pass rush under Rob Ryan without making any major additions to their defensive line?
2012 Prediction: If DeMarco Murray can stay healthy, I can see the Cowboys finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs via a wildcard bid.
It’s refreshing to someone who covers the Cowboys locally in Texas not buying into the hype that the national media constantly spews out about them. This is not a dominant team. It has talent in some key places, but one of the league’s worst offensive lines, and a fairly weak front 7 on defense will keep them from utilizing the talent they have.
One thing that I like, and don’t like, about this roster is that there’s really no player (other than perhaps DeMarco Murry) who would be a catastrophic loss if that player got injured. For instance, Tony Romo isn’t that much better than Kyle Orton, who while a Romo injury would hurt, it wouldn’t cripple this team. It speaks to both their depth, and their lack on truly remarkable and irreplaceable players.