With all the bad news swelling around Dez Bryant’s legal issues I’ve found myself losing optimism for the upcoming 2012 season. By the looks of things, at least at this stage, Bryant will be missing time this season. That’s a huge hit to the offense and unless the running game gets off to a hot start, the offense will most likely struggle. Knowing how Roger Goodell, and how badly he wants to make his presence known, it’s only a matter of time before a heavy punishment is laid down. And his penalty will be something completely different from what the authorities will impose on Bryant. So as a way to cope with the impending loss of one of Dallas’ starting receivers let’s look at something positive for a change.
There are always the players like DeMarcus Ware who get to the pro bowl each year, so I want to look at three players that I think will be pro bowlers in 2012 that you may not have thought of. By looking at the positive things, maybe it’ll make this shocking news less likely to spin fans into a depressing spiral.
That’s right folks; Felix Jones will be a pro bowler this year. Do you honestly think DeMarco Murray will be the only running back to benefit from the addition of Lawrence Vickers? I’m not saying Murray is going to have a bad year or not produce at a high level. What I am saying is Vickers is going to be out there doing what he does best regardless of who the back is. That, coupled with the fact that defenses are going to be gunning for Murray, and he will not be able to carry the ball 25-30 times for the entire season in Jason Garrett’s offense.
One other thing to take into account is Felix is in the final year of his contract. He needs to produce and stay healthy if he wants to get paid. Playing football for a living is a great perk, but let’s not kid ourselves; these guys are here to get paid.
There’s no denying the fact that Tyron Smith is going to be the Cowboys’ best lineman for the foreseeable future. He will most likely make the pro bowl next year. But I really think the move from left to right tackle will put Doug Free in a position to produce in a big way.
If you remember, two seasons ago Free was working to try and get regular playing time. Mark Colombo went down with an injury and Free stepped in and he never looked back. Being on the right side was more natural for him, and he excelled. I’m going to reference the playoff game against the Eagles to the day I die, (or until Dallas does something else worth wile in the post season, whichever comes first.) Free was able to get down field and pave the way for Felix to get into the end zone. It was a beautiful play that showed a big guy can be more than just a spot on the line.
I see Free finding his form and becoming a real force on the right side.
Dan Bailey came out of nowhere last season to solidify the kicking position. A quality starter at that position has been hard to come by in recent years for the Cowboys.
Bailey was an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State and was just trying to get noticed this time last year. He ended up beating out all other takers to secure the starting kicking spot.
Given there were some growing pains last season. Some of the closer kicks seemed to be difficult at times for Bailey. Let’s not forget he was a rookie. He had no NFL experience to lean on. The difference between college and the NFL in terms of speed of the game and the quality of athletes is immense. In my opinion Bailey did quite well under these circumstances.
Because of the overall quality season Bailey had last year, and the experience he gained, will only aid him as he continues to grow in the NFL. I optimistically see Bailey continuing to be a reliable contributor for Dallas, to the point where he is regarded as one of the best in the league.
In the end, I’m hoping no one gets to the pro bowl this year. Rather I would like to see them resting and practicing so they are ready to compete in the super bowl. Only time will tell, but since there’s so much bad press out there swirling around Dez and his legal troubles, it’s kind of nice to sit back and think of something a little more upbeat. I guess I’m the eternal optimist.