Tuesday, August 3, 2010
2010 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys
With the first week of "Los That Sports Blog" in the books, it's about time to get our NFL pre-season predictions kicked off. Check back frequently for our reviews of every division in the next couple of days. We'll get it going with the loaded NFC East, which saw a couple of teams switch QB's along with a few other changes. So with no further ado let's get into it:
Tough to expect a team in it's prime that had no major losses to not improve on 2009's 11-5 record.
The Cowboys are arguably the most offensively talented team in the NFL, returning starters in virtually every position. Suprisingly, despite ranking 2nd in the NFL in total yards per game the 'Boys only managed to rank 14th in PPG in '09 (22.6). All past off-season distractions aside, Tony Romo is coming into his own as a QB. Has he won a big game? No, but he's proven to be durable and reliable in the regular season while lowering his turnovers for the 2nd straight season, and he just turned 30 in April. After producing just 13 catches in 2008, Miles Austin exploded with 81/1320/11 in 2009 to emerge as a true no. 1 receiver. He has the size & speed combination to be a both reliable option in the short game and a threat down the field. Expect close the the same production from Austin in '10. Rookie 1st rounder WR Dez Bryant signed his contract early to avoid any holdouts and has looked like the real deal and will challenge the underwhelming but brash Roy Williams, who has yet to live up to his first round billing (and probably never will). Throw in perennial All-Pro TE Jason Witten who always produces and you have a loaded receiving core.
The Cowboys also have the luxury of a ton of depth in their backfield, with RB's Felix Jones & Marion "The Barberian" Barber both worthy of a starter's share of carries. Jones is an exposive runner & a threat to take it to the house on any given carry, and Barber is a nightmare to tackle. Tashard Choice (who might be this season's version of Michael Turner back when he was in SD) might even be the most well-rounded of the trio and can fill in without much of a loss in quality. As mentioned, on paper the offense appears to be top notch.
Again, Dallas retained almost all their pieces from a top 10 defense last year (ranked 9th overall & 2nd in points allowed per game), but their unit appears to be showing a little age. They do an excellent job against the run & DeMarcus WareDeMarcus Ware will continue to wreck havok off the edge, but the linebacking core up the middle could definitely use an upgrade. Keith Brooking is solidKeith Brooking, but not a playmaker than can run sideline to sideline and in a 3-4 scheme (and he's a little of a head case). The Cowboys have decent DBs, but Mike Jenkins is prone to gambling and giving up too many long plays and Terence Newman is aging and has a history of nagging injuries. They do have a bright spot in their secondary as Orlando Scandrick is considered a rising star in the nickel and routinely locks down opposing slot receivers. If the D-line can continue to put pressure on opposing QB's Dallas should be able to hold opponents to 3-&-outs, cause a few turnovers and keep their high power offense on the field.
Dallas is in my opinion by far the favorite to win this division. If Wade Phillips can keep them together, I see them emerging as the NFC's representative in Super Bowl XLV, which just so happens to be played in that monster of a stadium in Arlington.
Talk about a storybook ending.