Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (50) runs on to the field after a time out during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium. Cowboys beat the Buccaneers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

10 Questions for the Dallas Cowboy’s 2013 Season Part 2

Last Friday I posted the beginning of my top 10 questions for the 2013 season. If you haven’t read the first part, you can find it here. It’s hard to predict the outcome of a season, especially during the offseason. There are many questions that could swing the balance of a successful or disappointing season. Though there really isn’t anything better to do right now. Without further ado, let’s continue the list.

6. What will our defense looks like?

May 10, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin directs a drill with defensive end Jerome Long (92) during the rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Irving, TX. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

No one really knows what kind of scheme Monte Kiffin will implement. Some people are saying it’ll be a Tampa 2 scheme, other expects a defense that imitates Seattle’s defense. A couple of weeks ago, our very own Reid Hanson wrote a great article about it. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here. Basically, Kiffin will design a scheme that will fit the strength of our personnel. If this is true, I’m expecting a defense that imitates the Colt’s defense under Tony Dungy. We have a defensive line that is oddly similar to the 2000s Colts. Our linebackers are also good in coverage; however I’m expecting our run defense to struggle.

7. Will Jay Ratliff, Miles Austin, and Doug Free stay in Dallas?

There was a lot of doubt that these three would remain Cowboys in 2013. They simply weren’t worth the money we were paying them in 2012. In 2013, they must redeem themselves. Ratliff was hurt for most of last year, and when he did play he was ineffective. Miles Austin had a fine season, but was also plagued with injury. He has an expensive price tag, and with Dez emmerging as the primary target, Austin’s price is simply too much. Doug Free played poorly last year. He took a pay cut this offseason, but may not be a Cowboy the next season. It’s simple if these three do not perform, they could be looking for a new team next season.

8. Can the Cowboys run the two tight end personnel?

In the second round, the Cowboys selected tight end, Gavin Escobar. Witten has the starting position locked down, so it’s head scratching why we would draft another tight end. The 12 personnel have been very popular lately because of New England; and teams are trying to imitate them. The Cowboys have tried the the two tight end personnel many times before with Anthony Fasano, Martellus Bennett, and John Phillips. For the most part it’s been ineffective. Fasano and Bennett would end up leaving the Cowboys and finding success with other teams. It looks like we will try to implement the 12 personnel again with Escobar, but will it succeed?

9. Is Sean Lee elite? 

Sean Lee has played excellently in Dallas. He brings an intelligent presence to the defense. His pass coverage skill is phenomenal and he is always around the football. He’s a great playmaker; in 2011 he led all linebackers in interceptions. I’m really excited for Sean Lee in Monte’s defense. Lee is great in zone coverage, and should be able to make plays as the middle linebacker in Kiffin’s defense. His biggest problem is staying healthy. Can he stay away from injury this season and earn the title of elite linebacker? He certainly has the skill to do so.

10. Are the Cowboys a playoff team?

The goal of course is Super Bowl, but first we need to make the playoffs. We’ve made some improvements this season, but are they enough?  Will the defense perform well? Can Romo get over the hump? All these questions will be answered depending on whether or not we make the playoffs. Expectations are high for Dallas; do they have what it takes for the playoffs?

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