Okay. Let me start by saying that history is without a doubt repeating itself. 2007 is happening all over again. The New York Giants, on the brink of elimination, again rose from the dead and have made a run all the way to the big dance. While this has largely been labeled a chance at redemption for the Patriots, I now fully expect the Giants to pull it out in the last few seconds with Eli miraculously escaping a pass rush, lobbing the ball downfield, and having Victor Cruz actually catch it in the earhole of his helmet using no hands as he “cha chas” into the end zone. Cue the vomit noises… It is as inevitable now as a giant asteroid rocketing toward earth – you can see it coming from a long way away, you know its going to be bad when it hits, but there’s not much you can do about it. Just have to accept it and move on…
- Tony Romo – Tony is a polarizing figure among NFL fans these days – people seem to either love him like a cult figure or blame him for every Cowboys shortcoming. The fact is – despite the 8-8 record, no playoff berth, and some agonizing losses directly attributable to his mistakes – Tony is coming off arguably his best year in the NFL statistically. He achieved a 102.5 QBR, 36 TDs, and only 10 interceptions while racking up 4,184 passing yards. He played in all 16 games – at times seriously hurt (punctured lung and fractured ribs) – coming off a year in 2010 where he only played in 6 games before breaking his collarbone. Tony is far from perfect but if statistics mean anything, he could be coming into his prime and just needs a better team around him. If the team can solidify the offensive line and keep him on his feet (something less than the 36 sacks surrendered this year), I think 2012 could be a year where Romo gets the “can’t win the big game” monkey off his back.
- DeMarco Murray – Murray showed flashes of absolute brilliance in 2011 racking up almost a thousand yards rushing in only 7 games averaging 5.5 yards per carry before fracturing his ankle against the Giants. There is always the “sophomore slump” to contend with and he will be coming off a fairly serious ankle injury, but Cowboy fans can hardly wait to see his impact for a full season. A consistent running game will not only open up the passing game Garrett leans toward, but will be crucial in closing out close games with a lead. If DeMarco becomes everything we think he can be in 2012, he could carry this team on his back.
- Dez Bryant – Ah, Dez. Mountains of talent and potential, but the drive and maturity of a 14-year old most of the time. He has the skills and the physical size to absolutely take over games (see Hakeem Nicks). In his third year, he could prove a lot of people wrong about him by not taking plays off and committing himself to the things that drive improvement – film study, understanding the playbook and blitz reads, blocking, and of course catching the ball consistently. Not to mention staying out of the malls…
- Terence Newman – okay, just kidding. I wanted to make sure you were still reading…this guy will not be a Cowboy much longer. Although if he catches on for one more year in the NFL with one of our 2012 opponents, he could be a game MVP by allowing Dez, Miles, or Witten to burn him for a TD like he did most of our opponents as a Cowboy last year.
- Tyron Smith – all indications are Tyron Smith could be moving to left tackle in 2012. Although a rookie, he was our most consistent offensive lineman in 2011 and will only get better as the mental part of his game catches up with his obvious physical skills. Most of the good that the Cowboys are able to accomplish offensively starts with protecting Tony Romo. Tyron will be a big part of that in 2012 but like most offensive lineman won’t get the full credit he deserves for the offensive improvement. So, MVP is unlikely but I know Tony will be happy that Tyron is guarding his blind side.
- Jason Garrett – although Garrett has been coaching for a while now in the NFL, his first full season as the head coach was a bit of a disappointment. He made some awful and very public mistakes – questionable clock management and play calling at times to name just two that cost us wins. But, like anyone else, he will get better over time and will eliminate the glaring mistakes. He’s bright and even when he can’t bring himself to admit publicly he made a mistake, he will learn from the experience. The consensus seems to be that he will be a very good head coach. The only question mark is the team that Jerry Jones gives him to work with. When your owner is your GM and ultimately calls the shots on the draft and on personnel, your future is not completely in your own hands. But, I expect with a full off season for Garrett to correct a lot of the errors and have this team ready to play. I like the moves he has made already on the staff – getting rid of Campo being #1.
- Player To Be Named Later – Many teams feel like they are just a player or two away from greatness. The Cowboys and a lot of their fans feel the same way, not surprisingly. But, that may be closer to the truth with this team than some of the others as we have talent at just about every key skill position. The draft holds some promise that we could get an offensive lineman, a pass-rushing linebacker, or a defensive back that will quickly have an impact and make the team better. Since we are talking about potential MVPs however, it is unlikely that a rookie from the 14th pick makes that big of an impact anywhere but on special teams in 2012. But, Jerry Jones has indicated that the Cowboys could be active in free agency as well. If we could find a way to land a big name like Brent Grimes or Cortland Finnegan at cornerback, that would make our secondary and thus our defense immediately better.
There are many other potential candidates – Miles Austin (if he stays on the field), the always dependable Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware (if he gets some help on the other side), Sean Lee (a rising star), and even Rob Ryan with a full off season and some help in the secondary. So fans, vote in the poll below or tell me who your choice is for potential MVP next season. If we’re forced once again to think about “next year”, we might as well start discussing it.
Tags: Dallas Cowboys Dave Campo DeMarco Murray DeMarcus Ware Dez Bryant Eli Manning Jason Garrett Jason Witten Jerry Jones Miles Austin New England Patriots New York Giants Rob Ryan Terence Newman The Landry Hat Tony Romo Tyron Smith Victor Cruz