First, a show of hands of those that are thankful they aren’t New York Jets fans. After the last preview of the Dallas Cowboys starters in Saturdays 24-18 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, my hopes are high for this season. Did I say high? Maybe I should say cautiously optimistic.
There are plenty of reasons for my optimism. OC, Bill Callahan will be calling plays now, giving Garrett the freedom to get his game management down. (It’s about time. lol). By all signs, Dez Bryant is poised for a breakout, monster season. In fact, the Cowboys entire receiving core seems as solid as any year I can remember. Tony Romo looks sharper than he has in previous pre-seasons. With Travis Frederick at Center and a continuing shuffle of the offensive line, Romo seems to have at least a little more time in the pocket. His timing with Dez in particular, so far this pre-season, and the lethal potential that creates, gives me chills (the good kind).
The Cowboys running backs look livelier and more determined than previous years as well. DeMarco Murray has been strong all camp and he showed moves like Jagger evading tacklers for touchdown in the 3rd quarter of the Bengals game. (Murray was benched earlier for fumbling the ball. Was that accountability I saw from Head Coach Jason Garrett? Well what do you know) Lance Dunbar was also solid in training camp, as was Philip Tanner. Even rookie Joseph Randle seems to have made an easy transition to the pro level. I can’t see Tanner not making the team this year, especially with the minor injury to Dunbar. Next year, though, Randle is taking Tanner or Dunbar’s spot. Point being, the Cowboys have great running back depth this year.
Enough about the offense. The biggest difference we’ve all seen this pre-season is new 4-3 defense Monte Kiffin has installed. Getting rid of Rob Ryan as Defensive Coordinator, instead of Garrett, left many scratching their heads. Early results seem to suggest that the GM may know more than we think. This new defense seems much more aggressive and has been a turn over machine this pre-season. Sean Lee and Bruce Carter make a great linebacker duo and DeMarcus Ware looks to be as dominant as ever transitioning from linebacker to defensive end. Cornerback is a position of strength and Barry Church has come out of nowhere the last year to become a solid anchor at Safety. Is it too early to predict this defense will dominate opponents?
Ok, well that was the ‘optimistic’. Now for the ‘cautiously’ part. Injuries.
Injuries continue to haunt the Dallas Cowboys. We lost DE, Tyrone Crawford for the year. Crawford was an important rotation lineman for the Cowboys. I don’t know if DT, Jay Ratliff will be ready to start week 1. Same goes for DE, Anthony Spencer – RB, Lance Dunbar – OG, Ronald Leary – LB, Ernie Sims – WR Cole Beasley and others. The offensive line also continues to be a huge blight on an otherwise awesome offense. Every team has to deal injury, Cowboys are no different. The thing about the Cowboys, though, is that the most talented players on the team seem to go in and out of states of disrepair all season, every season.
So here we go. The Dallas Cowboys look like a different team to some degree. A better team. More determined, more aggressive, more in sync. I’m buying in. I think this could finally be our year… barring injury.