Free agency and the draft have come and gone. Holes have been plugged on both sides of the ball by a very good offseason addition period orchestrated by the front office. With many exciting additions come much hope for the upcoming season. So who is going to step up and push the 2012 Dallas Cowboys over the hump and into the postseason and beyond? There are quite a few players that will have an impact this upcoming season, to one degree or another, but who is going to be an impact player that the team would be crippled without if they hadn’t been playing with the star on their helmets? Here’s my top-five players that will make us proud to be a member of Cowboy Nation.
People think I’m crazy for holding a fullback in such esteem. I was initially disappointed the front office didn’t resign Tony Fiammetta this offseason. What were they thinking? After I had a chance to cool off and look at the player they signed instead, I got excited more than you could imagine. Lawrence Vickers is a beast who doesn’t ask for much. The only thing he wants is to dominate whoever is in his way, and make sure his “little brother”, the running back, gets to daylight. Is it a coincidence that the previous two seasons the backs that ran behind him (Arian Foster last year and Peyton Hillis the year before) had stellar seasons? I think not. Now throw in a backfield in Dallas that has plenty to prove and are stone-cold killers when they are on, and you have the formula for success. Obviously Vickers can only do so much, and success in the running game will be contingent upon a healthy and productive offensive line, but I think Vickers adds a smash-mouth mentality last year’s team lacked. Watch out opposing linebackers, Vickers is coming for you. BAM!
I know a lot of you were probably expecting me to throw Morris Claiborne in right off the bat as one of the top-five players that will make us proud next season, but let’s give the young man a chance to get his feet wet before we anoint him as the chosen one. Don’t get me wrong, he will be a superstar and I am ecstatic to have him on the roster, but I think the real star of the secondary will be Brandon Carr this upcoming season. Carr finally gets his chance to be the big man on campus in Dallas, and I don’t think he’ll let us down. He’s big, fast, and not afraid to play man-to-man or press coverage. Carr is the perfect fit for Rob Ryan and his defensive style. Don’t be surprised to see Carr blitzing this season and causing as many headaches in the backfield as he will cause down-field in coverage.
It should only take two words to describe why Mike Jenkins will have a huge season this year… contract year. The former first-round pick will be playing for his long-term financial security, and I don’t see him letting us down. Sure he’ll have to overcome offseason shoulder surgery and a multitude of questions concerning the drafting of Claiborne and his place on a roster filled with starting-caliber corners, but I don’t see any of that deterring him from producing at a high level, regardless of the circumstances. And it’s not like Jenkins played horrible last season. He just couldn’t stay healthy. When he was on the field he played much better than in 2010. Watch out for the Jenkins we saw a few years back. Mark my words.
Felix Jones is in the same boat as Jenkins. He is a former-first round pick that needs to have a big season to put to rest the questions concerning his durability and if he’s worth investing in for the long-term. Jones has a young upstart that has taken his starting role away, and he needs to prove to doubters why he was so highly regarded a few years ago. The addition of Vickers, and my prediction that the )-line will be much improved, will set the stage for Jones to have a huge season. He has ability out the ears, and this is the year we see what he can do with everything working for him, instead of against him.
Everything is in place for Tony Romo to excel more than he ever has in the past. The defense has a year under their belt in Ryan’s complex scheme. They also have received all the upgrades they could have hoped for so the offense shouldn’t be playing from behind as much. Along with the defensive upgrades, the offense got healthy and the O-line has been bolstered. Dallas added a stud fullback that will protect Romo like he would protect his own son. What else does Romo need in order to take the next step and put the Cowboys deep in the playoffs? I can’t reasonably think of a single thing. This year is Romo’s time to shine. He’s in the prime of his career. He has been in this offense long enough to know every in and out. And while I’m throwing out things that are driving him towards greatness, he’s a father. This may seem arbitrary, but in my mind he has another thing to play for now.
Look out for greatness Cowboys Nation, because it’s coming like a freight train and we may be lucky enough this season to see it in its entirety. The offseason additions were a huge success, and we can only go up from here. As always, this is just my opinion. This is a fan’s view blog, so hop on the message boards and let the world know what you think. At least the only part of the world we care about as Cowboys fans.