Last week, I thought I was being pessimistic when I said I had hit the panic button when it came to evaluating the 2014 Dallas Cowboys. But when dozens of fans and experts hit the same button – including the ever-optimistic Cowboys owner Jerry Jones – I knew right away that my pessimism was actually much less severe than most.
The truth is, you just know America’s Team is in big trouble when Jones says this upcoming season is going to be an uphill battle. Remember: this is the same Jerry who declared Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson were possible Pro Bowl quarterbacks back in 2002 in the now infamous HBO/NFL Films series “Hard Knocks”.
No kidding. It’s also the same Jones who brought Clint Stoerner and Ryan Leaf to quarterback this team back in those days. So, you just know that if this is an uphill battle for Jerry, we can only imagine the very worst…or can’t we?
I say this because I must admit I am surprised to see the level of pessimism around here when we have names like quarterback Tony Romo, wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back DeMarco Murray and tight end Jason Witten in the Cowboys offense. Seriously, how many losing teams in the NFL can point out similar talents in their offense?
Last time I checked, even 8-8 teams in 2013 had names like Geno Smith, Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco in their quarterback position. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Bears – who also finished 8-8 last season – had better quarterbacks than the aforementioned signal-callers.
But all losing teams last year, with the possible exception of the Detroit Lions, had vastly inferior offensive playmakers than the Cowboys’. Hear me on this: it really isn’t day-dreaming to say that the ‘Boys have an offense to win games. It’s a fact.
Now comes the problem: the defense, which NFL.com said could become “from worst to collegiate”, is bad. But let’s see what this defense really means when it comes to the numbers. Last year, the Cowboys defense averaged 27.0 points allowed per game.
That sure is bad, isn’t it? But guess what: the Denver Broncos, who finished 13-3 last season and went to the Super Bowl, allowed a similar 24.9 points per game.
What did they do differently, then? You guessed it: their offense scored more points. A lot more. The Broncos scored 606 points last season. A hundred plus more than any other team in the league.
Now, am I being terribly optimistic if I say that this year’s Cowboys have an offense that could put up similar numbers? Remember: these high-scoring Broncos were the same ones Dallas out-played offensively in last year’s Week Five showdown. If anything, that game reminds us what this offense is truly capable of.
Do I hear worries about Romo’s back? What about worries last year about Peyton Manning‘s career-threatening neck surgery?
So, call me delusional here when I say these Cowboys have a shot to win enough games to be playoff contenders. This offense excites me, and plenty. If it plays aggressive enough – whereas that means scoring a lot of points and/or controlling possession of the ball – the Cowboys will have a shot to win. Mark my words.
It will be uphill, like Jerry said. Our offense will need to play with a sense of urgency on every down. But if stats don’t lie, that’s when Antonio Ramiro plays his best (105.6 rating in 4th quarter). And I can’t wait to see him do his magic. I just hope Dallas head coach Jason Garrett and company unleash our quarterback, because this time we will need him more than ever.