Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) runs after a catch in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Closing Bell: End of Season Dallas Cowboys Stock Report

The Closing Bell has rung and stock on the Dallas Cowboy Stock Exchange (DCSE) has ceased trading. Despite the strong fourth quarter rally Dallas Cowboys stocks only managed to finish 8-8. Trusted analysts expected a 9 or 10 win season so this was no doubt a disappointing result for Dallas Cowboy investors.

The purpose of this report is to provide a final review to all 2012 investors and to educate and prepare for next seasons Dallas Cowboy investments. The economic climate will certainly be changing between now and next summer but this should prove to be a useful tool when managing your current Dallas Cowboy Stock portfolio.

Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) avoids the tackle of New Orleans Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson (21) at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls (Hot Stocks Rising in Value)

Dez Bryant: As expected – Dez stock exploded paying huge dividends to those who invested by midseason. After the unstable start to the season, Dez stocks hit an all-time low. If you were smart (and daring) enough to buy mid-season you are one savvy investor.

Dez finished the year with 1382 yards and 12 TD’s. Both totals are highly impressive considering he started so slowly. In addition to being a feared deep threat and solid possession receiver, Dez was also a willing blocker. Dez Bryant proved to be the complete package.

If he continues to dominate in 2013 like he did the second half of 2012 he will be second only to Calvin Johnson at the receiver position. Factoring the steady uptick in his 2012 production and realistic 2013 projected numbers, Dez should be a Blue Chip stock by next season. The only reason Analysts are hesitant to bestow on him that elite label is his uncanny ability to sabotage himself. If Dez successfully makes it through the offseason with no off-field drama and is able to make it through training camp uninjured, he will be a sure-fire blue chipper.

 

Nov 22, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan (center) with the offensive line during the game against the Washington Redskins during a game on Thanksgiving at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears (Cold Stocks Falling in Value)

Offensive Line: It was simply a dreadful miscalculation in talent and learning ability. Bill Callahan was acquired to build an offensive line from the ground up. Both starting guards (Livings and Bernadeau) were acquired in free agency, the center (Phil Costa) was an undrafted free agent who was brought back to start in 2012 after playing miserably in his first season.

When injured, Costa was replaced by Ryan Cook, a fringe player on the Miami Dolphins. The left tackle (Tyron Smith) was of premium talent but starting on the left for the first time, he predictably struggled. The right tackle (Doug Free) seemed like the only “sure thing” but he turned out to be a complete bust. Callahan was challenged to gel these players together all while implementing a new zone blocking scheme.

Of the five players starting on the offensive line only 2 established themselves as clear starters for next season: LT Tyron Smith and OG Nate Livings. The other three spots had ups and downs (mostly downs) and will certainly be challenged if not completely replaced. With three open spots it will be almost impossible to expect the Cowboys to upgrade all three in a single offseason. The Cowboys NEED big improvement from the offensive line next season to expect to compete in the playoffs. Marginal improvement will not be enough. Analysts are weary and urge investors to stay away from the offensive line stock.

Coaching Staff: As stated before, this is one of the smartest coaching staffs in the league but somehow it coaches some of the dumbest players in the league. The Head Coach is an Ivy Leaguer who played professional football for 12 seasons. It’s safe to say he’s one of the smartest coaches in the NFL. The Defensive Coordinator comes from a legendary football family. He is known as a savant of NFL schemes and strategy. The only problem is sometimes he’s too smart for his own good and beats himself. The Special Teams Coach has made a career of motivating and building reliable units from various rag-tag groups of players. One of the most respected men in the entire league. Ask around.

How are all of these masters of their profession (sarcasm intended) coaching one of the dumbest teams in the NFL? The list of possible answers is almost endless. The Cowboys entered the season finale ill prepared to say the least. Everyone knew what kind of offense the Redskins would be running except the Cowboys. The players and coaches were confused and unable or unwilling to make adjustments. Game preparation as a whole has been inconsistent and often embarrassing. Play calling and situational decisions have improved this year but not at the rate expected by these “geniuses”. The core of the staff is expected to return but they are now on a short leash. 2013 will be make-it or break-it for all of them.

Dec 9, 2012; Cincinnati, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) is stopped at the goal line against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Stock to Hold

DeMarco Murray: Analysts recommend applying a wait and see approach as DeMarco Murray is overpriced by some and underpriced by others. Raw numbers say he didn’t perform very well averaging 4.1 yards per carry totaling 663 yards. He was injured – again and many wonder if he has enough durability to survive in the league.

For those that watch and understand the game, they can see the offensive line was terrible much of 2012 and did little to help DeMarco. If you own stock in Murray, analysts say “hold” because he has high earnings potential but actual market price is unknown. If you don’t currently have his stock you will probably want to wait until next season to decide a fair market price.

Tony Romo: Romo had a very up and down year. On a positive note he finished with his best yardage total of his career unfortunately it was because the running game was so abysmal. After a very poor start to the season Romo rebounded and put together his best December ever. Sadly his last game, the one everyone will remember, the one that decided the Cowboys postseason fate, was dreadful. He showed poor decisions that ultimately lead to the game-clinching INT on a poorly read pass to the flat.

Romo is looking for a new contract heading into the 2013 season. He will be a free agent and probably wants to avoid a stressful contract year. The question is what will he cost? He is much underpaid compared to his peers and will certainly be looking for one final ginormous contract to retire with. Not sure when this gets done and how it will impact his performance. Don’t buy or sell until his contract situation is resolved.

 

Hottest IPO (Initial Public Offering aka: Rookie/First Year Stock)

Bruce Carter: If you count last season as his injury red-shirt season then 2012 is his first year on the market. Sadly he ended the year on IR so we never saw what might have been. But before he was injured he was simply amazing. He matured each game teasing fans with his immense potential. The Dallas Cowboys may just have the best inside linebacker duo in the league (if Carter and Sean Lee can find a way to stay healthy).

 

Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys kick returner Dwayne Harris (17) returns a kick during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Buy Low

Dwayne Harris, James Hanna, and Cole Beasley: Dallas coaching staff has long been poor at installing young receivers preferring instead to play older less talented receivers (like Kevin Ogletree).  In Dwayne’s, James’ and Cole’s limited opportunities they have provided effective if not spectacular plays.

With Kevin Ogletree gone next season Dwayne and Cole will be next in line. The Cowboys will not be actively looking for WR in free agency since so many other holes exist therefore these two will have every opportunity to claim the #3 and #4 receiver spots.

James Hanna also came on strong as the season progressed. He provided plenty of reason to move on from the reliably unspectacular John Phillips. Jason Garrett loves the 2 tight end offense so he will definitely bring in another TE to compete for the #2 spot but expect Hanna to win the job.

Investors should buy stock here for long term investment potential in these three high-risk /high reward players. They are very green and have top players ahead of them on the depth chart so expect modest returns in 2013 but if things fall just right, high payouts in years to come.

Sell High

Miles Austin: Selling high may be a bit of a stretch. Some people still value Austin higher than they should so analysts recommend selling all your Miles Austin stock to them before they wise up. Because of the structure of contract he could possibly remain on the team in 2013 but frankly not much is expected. He was finally able to stay healthy but only posted 943 receiving yards. This isn’t an awful number but certainly not worth the money he is getting paid. He also failed to make plays in very key situations reminding many of the famous TO disappearing act from years ago. Sell his stock now your money is better spent elsewhere next season.

Anthony Spencer: He quite simply had the best season of his career in official and unofficial stats. Spencer makes plays and stops (diverts) plays, and in many ways, goes unseen and unappreciated. The coaching staff knows exactly what he provides on the field and in the locker room, unfortunately he may demand too much money to resign next season. If he is franchised again he will count over $10M against the cap in 2013. The Cowboys will be very limited to what they can do with personnel and smart money says offensive line is priority #1, 2, and 3. This will be a painful choice to make for the Cowboys with no clear right or wrong answer. 50/50 on his return.

 

Blue Chip Stocks

The Blue Chip stocks are stocks who are at the absolute top of their field in performance and earnings. These are stocks you can invest in, depend on, and retire with. They are the reliable moneymakers that can solidify an investor portfolio.

Jason Witten: Jason Witten was primed to decline this season. After suffering a spleen injury in the preseason he lost his Blue Chip Status and was expected to be a shadow of his former self. Instead he bounced back with a vengeance, breaking the TE single season receiving record and finishing with 110 receptions for 1039 yards. Witten possesses very little run-after-the-catch ability and while his speed is acceptable, it’s nothing special.

Witten gets open because he knows the weaknesses in zones and the angles to take in man coverage. Because of this, there is no reason to think his numbers will regress in 2013. Witten is built to last and is a sure blue chipper entering 2013.

DeMarcus Ware: Before this season Ware was widely considered the best pass rusher in the league but times may be changing. DeMarcus Ware was injured for much of the second half of the season and will require surgery on both his shoulder and elbow. Choosing to play through injures probably wasn’t the best idea. He was a nonfactor collecting only 2.5 sacks the entire second half of the season. In the same stretch, Victor Butler was Ware’s primary backup who collected 2 sacks himself in limited playing time (on mostly non-passing downs).

Ware finished the season with a modest 11.5 sacks while around the league JJ Watt finished with 20.5, Aldon Smith with 19.5, and Von Miller with 18.5. Ware tied for 9th place with 5 other guys. Ware may prove to be the best all-time pass-rusher so a little respect and leeway needs to be given to this season’s results. Ware will remain a Blue Chip stock going into 2013 but he’s no longer a sure thing to be the best in the highly competitive pass-rushing industry.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant Jason Witten Tony Romo

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