Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (70) lines up before a play against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL.com: 'The Cowboys Have The Look Of A .500 Club'


In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys solidified their offensive line in the first round. This upcoming season, the Cowboys could have a top-five rated offense because of it. And they might just possess the most talented offensive line in the NFL. Unfortunately, they also look to possess a bottom-five defense, to which they appear to have done next to nothing to improve in the draft outside second round defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. This possible misstep by the Cowboys front office led a writer for NFL.com to say:

“To the surprise of no one, the Cowboys have the look of a .500 club.”

That’s the last thing Cowboys fans want to hear after three straight seasons of 8-8 without a postseason appearance. The article, entitled “Projected 2014 starters: Dallas Cowboys” by Chris Wesseling, took a look at all the NFC East teams projected starting lineups for the upcoming 2014 regular season. For Dallas, they look like this:

Dallas Cowboys Projected 2014 Starters
Offense
Defense
QB
DE
RB
DT
WR1
DT
WR2
DE
Demarcus Lawrence / Jeremy Mincey
TE1
MLB
TE2
WLB
LT
CB1
LG
CB2
C
CB3
RG
Zack Martin
SS
RT
FS

 

This lineup looks almost identical to the 2013, with some minor changes. Obviously, Martin has replaced Mackenzy Bernadeau at offensive guard. Second year receiver phenom Williams replaces veteran receiver Miles Austin, who now plays in Cleveland.

On defensive, 2012 hidden free agent gems Selvie and Hayden return to the starting lineup. Free agency acquisition Henry Melton replaces Jason Hatcher at defensive tackle. And Pro Bowl linebacker turned defensive end Anthony Spencer will probably be given the nod at starting right end over rookie Demarcus Lawrence and league veteran Jeremy Mincey.  Also take into account both Spencer and Melton are coming off season-ending injuries.

If some of these youngsters could turn the corner in 2014, it could result in this being a very exciting season for all Cowboys fans.
As for the defensive backfield. it’s all the same players. Although I believe Scandrick will get the start over Claiborne at this point. A large portion of the defensive secondaries’ success hinges on the development of second-year safety J.J. Wilcox. The Cowboys must really like Wilcox since they passed on several talented safeties in the draft. The team will need him to build on his excellent performances in the 2013 preseason.

Okay, this may look like a .500 club right now. But don’t sleep on these Cowboys. They have some surprises under their sleeves for 2014.

The two biggest issues that hurt the Cowboys defense last year were injuries and depth. Despite an excessive number of hamstring injuries last season, Dallas has opted not to change their training staff or methods. Instead, they have laid the blame solely at the feet of the Player’s Association. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones claims the new labor agreement doesn’t allow the Cowboys training staff adequate time to prepare these athletes for the upcoming season properly. So outside of changing the labor agreement, Dallas seems to have washed their hands of it.

The second issue is depth. And it appears Dallas has stacked the deck defensively with a large number of late round draft picks and undrafted free agents head into camps. In fact, all five picks in last weekend’s NFL draft were defensive. Those players include: Stanford lineman Ben Gardner, Texas Tech linebacker Will Smith, Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon, Northern Illinois defensive tackle Ken Bishop and Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell.

The Cowboys also brought in Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens in the fourth round as a back-up for the often injured starting middle linebacker, Sean Lee. Although Hitchens could push for a starting role at either of the other linebacker positions as well.

Let’s not forget the talented bunch of young defensive players returning in 2014. Players like defensive end Tyrone Crawford, defensive tackle Ben Bass, and linebacker DeVonte Holloman. And after two whole seasons on injured reserve, we still have very little idea what 2012 fourth round pick safety Matt Johnson can do.

Combine those players with the 25 undrafted free agents the Cowboys signed this week plus the 15 try-out players their bringing in this weekend, and Dallas should be up to their necks in depth come the regular season. Obviously, the process of coaching and eventually elimination now begins. But by the end of August, this process should result in a strong 53-man roster full of young energy, excitement and depth.

It appears the Cowboys plan is to hope all their hardwork and coaching finally starts to pay off within some young players like linebacker Bruce Carter, defensive end Tyrone Crawford and cornerback Morris Claiborne. If some of these youngsters could turn the corner in 2014, it could result in this being a very exciting season for all Cowboys fans. And though this may look like another .500 club right now, the Cowboys are hoping to have these experts singing a more positive tune come season’s end.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Regular Season Dallas Cowboys Projected Starters Roster

  • Tim

    I’m starting to dislike the sugar coated negativity this guy brings to everything he writes.

    • true cowboys fan

      LOL take it for what it is its his opinion and you know what they say about opinions everyone has one and so on and so on besides we all need a good laugh once in a while GO COWBOYS ! ! True Cowboys Fan for Life

    • David

      Tim,
      I am a die hard fan as well, been one for almost 40 years. But the writer for this article has a job to do for The Landry Hat. He wouldnt be much of a writer if he just sat here and spouted the Cowboys were going to the SB or even win their division for that matter. The fact of the matter is they have been a 500 team for three years under a coach that has had some major flaws over those seasons. While I was totally in agreement with letting Ware and Hatch go, thats still losing around 20 sacks. I actually think if Melton comes back healthy he will be better than Hatch but filling Ware’s shoes is an unknown. They hope Lawrence will be what they think he is but even if he is that could take a year or two. I think McClain will be a nice addition and it will be interesting to see how good Crawford can be. But other than that everything is mostly the same. The safety position which was a huge problem is the same with maybe a long shot of Dixon unseating one of the bottom feeders like Hamilton, Heath or Johnson. So how are they EXPECTED to be better?

      • Juanito Juanito

        If they will be healty, just with that they will be better

        • David

          Injuries is part of the game. Lots of teams that went to the post season and won had injuries..

          • bigcee23

            Of those teams mentioned how many had to rotate 20 d-lineman and 8-10 of those players was on the couch the prior sun.yes injuries are part of the game, and to off set that you must have quality depth at those positions, and the Cowboys did what they should have done. Solidify the o-line to keep romo upright (Zachary Martin) great pick then let marinelli go get his high motor guys to coach them up. They’re gong to surprise not only some Cowboy fans but also the entire nfl COWBOYS 4 LIFE

          • David

            You act like it was only the D-line that was the problem. Other than Lee their LB’s were average to terrible and they missed only a few games. The safeties were horrible and they were not hurt other than Wilcox for a short time. So sorry injuries were not the main reason Dallas was the worst defense in history.

          • bigcee23

            What do all the top defenses have in common. …A d-line that keep their linebackers from getting hit, why,so they can do their job, which is by the way MAKE TACKLES ask Ray Lewis Patrick Willis. No pressure on the qb he can sit and go thru his progressions with no pressure guess what u can have deion and you’ll still get torched.So, to answer your question the d-line is a major issue

          • David

            Why dont you look at Seattle’s defense last year. All good not great D-lineman with no one over 8 sacks. Manning set a freaking completions record on short and intermediate passes by getting the ball out quickly. But they still won because of their secondary and LB’s as well. Team defense my man. Cant be just a great front four and a horrible secondary. If Seattle had Dallas secondary from last year they dont even get out of the 1st round. Typical one dimensional thinking though. You only need 4 great players up front on defense to win a SB. By the way they are also coached much better with the exception of Marinelli.

          • bigcee23

            As usual, someone who never played the game trying to tell a d-II player how it should be played. .. your front 4 is a big piece to establishing a great defense. .3 lb’s for Seattle accounted for 265 tackles last season.why?seattle’s front 4 kept o-lineman from getting to their 2nd level of defense allowing for those 3lb’s to do what they do best MAKE TACKLES…fresh d-lineman is equal to a offense running a no huddle…fresh bodies make for a stronger faster d line. .I never said all you need are 4 great players up front. So, before you call someone a one minded thinker make sure you comprehend what you just read… why was ray Lewis ready to leave baltimore, that front 4 got smaller and he started getting hit by lineman and couldn’t make those routine plays anymore, so what did they do draft bigger d-lineman. Which resulted in a better defense and allow players to make plays

          • David

            Hahahaha ok Al Bundy and Im sure you also scored 5 td’s in a D2 game as well. So just to confirm the Seahawks would have won the SB with Dallas secondary??

          • bigcee23

            Lmao!!! It’s possible, because the front 4 did what needed to be done. .. put pressure on the qb and allowed their lb’s to make plays without having to fight off o-lineman blocks. is simple, if your front 4 can bring constant pressure your secondary plays better because the qb can’t sit back and go thru his progressions..btw, I played d-end in college so no scores. .. COWBOY 4 LIFE! !!

          • David

            Ill agree with you on Cowboys for Life but sorry if Seattle had the Cowboys secondary they dont get past the 1st round.

          • bigcee23

            You’re getting ready to watch an exciting defense this year…. we’re talking about the wrong thing. .. what needs to be talked about is our strength & conditioning program. .. if they can stay healthy this will easily be a top 10 defense

          • David

            Ill go even further than that. If the offense continues their horrible pass happy philosophy then they are going to have a hard time again this year. They cant keep the defense on the field as much as they did last year. Romo cant throw the ball 35 plus times a game agains and expect them to be a playoff team. Especially with the brutal schedule they are playing. Even if they were all healthy last year, there was really only one player in Lee who was a legit difference maker.

          • bigcee23

            I’m not sold on Lee, because he stays hurt to much….I need a full season to believe in him. You are right about our offense, and that’s why they picked Martin over Johnny football. . Great pick!! This season we’ll have a young great o-line to run the ball and give romo some time in the pocket and also grind out the clock later in the 2nd half. .yes jj does have the final say, but if you look at the last 2 drafts he has finally let garret and Co get the guys they want to fit their scheme. If HEALTHY this will be a team to watch out for. Everybody talk about romo this romo that. . If you’re relied upon on to make play after play then you’re going to make mistakes other guys have to step up and this is going to be the year for that. What was so good about the 90′s team. great o line and a relentless defense. ..Garrett didn’t pick jimmy’s brain for nothing. We’re seeing a Jimmy Johnson type team being developed right before our eyes

  • CowboyAce

    Just this guy is like all the rest of the media. Just imagine if Manziel was here they would have Romo on the bench by the 3rd game, before the season even started. Look, the Cowboys lost a few game by a point or two. If they have any luck with injuries (at least better than the last 2 seasons) they will win the division. And have a legitimate shot. It’s the negative persona that people like this guy projects on the Cowboys, and people believe it and run with it without knowing THE FUTURE. There is going to be 90 men out there trying to make this team. How could this guy possibly know whose going to start. I say the Cowboys surprise EVERYONE this year. They are going about their business correct.
    Cowboys 4 ever.

  • jrcowboy49

    The Cowboys always have injuries at critical positions and at critical times. With limited talent and experienced players, you can not throw away 3rd round draft picks and expect to compete in the playoffs. This team will be lucky to make 500 and in denial of rebuilding!

  • Rick Vas

    being generous there with that .500 assumption…definition of a dolt is the cowboys doing the same crap every yr and their delusional followers expecting a different out come…

  • Bill Smith

    I dont doubt the Cowboys are drafting better now, but this team lost a few starters from what was Already the NFL’s worst defense, and we are asking other team’s Castoffs, players coming back from Injuries and Rokkies to Improve our lot. So, this article is probably right on the money.

    • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

      I think fans forget the number of injuries they had on the defense and also fail to take into account that some of the starters that were lost were overpaid and under performing. Unfortunately, it will probably take more than one year of making all of the right personnel moves to make up for the multiple blunders that Jerry Jones made in the past.

  • mitch Monteith

    Marinelli will have the D playing at a better level this year and will not be as big an issue as the schedule itself. We have to play all four NFC West teams where everyone has a top 10 defense. I will be happy if things go well and they win the division but everyone in the NFC east seems to have improved their teams.