One of the most entertaining video clips of Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo was back in 2007, when he was just on the verge of becoming a superstar in this league. It portrayed a gleeful Romo warming up before a game and playful singing the lyrics, “I’ve got high hopes”. Those hopes seem to be fading every year since then and the fan base has become hopeless and grumpy.
For the first time in years, excitement for the Cowboys has hampered down, probably due to the fact that the Cowboys have been the epitome of mediocrity over the last few years. Since 2004, the Cowboys have had just two seasons with double-digit wins, and in that span have gone 1-3 in the playoffs. You can’t blame the fans for losing out hope after they put their heart and energy to every season, only to have it broken in the most dramatic fashion. Cynicism is rampant among the fans and they are just preparing themselves for a late season meltdown. But, the team has a chance to get back to the Promised Land and here are few reasons why fans can let themselves have hope once more.
Health of the team was one of the biggest downfalls of the team last year. When half of your starting defense is out because of injures you are not going to win any games. Fans should give Rob Ryan, former defensive coordinator, some credit for keeping the defense together with street free agents most of the year. In the end, injuries were one of the main reasons why the Cowboys weren’t destined for the playoffs, and you better hope the health of this year’s team doesn’t tank like it did last year. So far into training camp, the team hasn’t done a great job in that category with Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer, Tyrone Crawford, and many others are sitting out with certain injuries. The Cowboys are talented enough to win some games this season with a healthy roster, so health will be a big factor this year.
Tony Romo, fresh off surgery and a major payday, will be entering this season with more pressure than ever before. Not only does he need to prove himself to the fans as a true leader, but has to justify the big contract that he received. Romo has the skills to do it and he did it once before. He has to return to the 2009 version of himself that balanced being a game manager and a gunslinger. That helped him win his first playoff game and set up one of his more dominant seasons as a quarterback. If Romo can find his balance, the Cowboys will find the playoffs.
Monty Kiffin may look like Grandpa Simpson, but he sure knows how to coach defense. From all the reports out of training camp, he is as energetic as the players and the defense is looking really sharp. Again, that is just camp. We won’t know the results until the real games begin. But the new energy might help this squad out. More importantly, they need help getting those turnovers. Picks, fumbles, deflections, you name it, the team needs it. I think the move to get Kiffin will help this team win in that department, and help forge an elite defense that Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones has been searching for since former Head Coach Jimmy Johnson left.
Finally, the run game needs to be the final factor that will ensure the return to the playoffs. My hope is that a healthy offensive line and a healthy tandem of DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle will help reboot the Cowboys ground game. Running the ball takes pressure off Romo and wares down the opposing defenses. With Offensive Coordinator Bill Callahan and new additions to the offensive line, you could see the running game return to its former glory. Just hoping that Callahan sticks to it just a bit more than Head Coach Jason Garrett did.
These are just some of the issues, that if worked on successfully, it could help return the team to the playoffs, and compete for that elusive Lombardi Trophy. Hey, a fan can have high hopes right?