October 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys offense huddles around quarterback Tony Romo (9) against the Philadelphia Eagles during first quarter action at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports
The one thing the Dallas Cowboys haven’t lacked in recent years is talent. Top-tier players have littered the roster for a while now, but things have not come together to get them anywhere beyond an 8-8, mediocre record… at least not for the last three years. So as some claim doom and gloom of the Cowboys, while others think there’s enough talent to make some noise in the NFC East, let’s take a look at exactly where the team stands in terms of star talent.
Starting at the quarterback position, Tony Romo has fallen suit with how the Dallas Cowboys are view by the entire nation – you either like him or you don’t. There doesn’t really seem to be any kind of middle ground on the subject. In my eyes he is the best chance the Cowboys have to contend in the near future. But at 34 years old, his time is starting to run out in terms of his ability to perform at a high enough level to contend for a Super Bowl. If Dallas can continue putting the right pieces around him, this team will have the ability to get there with Romo at the helm – like it or not.
The offensive line and running game is quietly becoming this team’s strong point. With three first-round picks scheduled to be on the line this year (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin), and a running back that can be flat-out dominant when he’s healthy (DeMarco Murray) the Cowboys will be able to control the line of scrimmage and the play clock. This is definitely good news considering how questionable the Dallas defense is projected to be. All of this will hinge on how often pass-happy coordinator Scott Linehan will allow this strength to be utilized.
Speaking of the passing game, Dallas’ may be one of the most underrated in the league. Dez Bryant in regularly being beat out in analyst’s rankings, being slotted in as the third and fourth-best receiver in the league. This is a crying shame, as no one outside of Detroit Lion’s receiver Calvin Johnson is as dominant as Bryant is. He has his off games from time-to-time, but if you look at all the other top receiver in the league, so do they. Atlanta Falcons’ wide out Julio Jones missed pretty much the entire season in 2013 for crying out loud. Bryant regularly makes opposing defensive backs look like high school players, and that’s a fact.
Paired with Bryant, the remainder of the receiving corps will in theory have more opportunities just by being on the often double and triple-teamed pass catcher. Projected second-string receiver Terrance Williams flashed his potential last year, but at the same time showed his young age. This year’s fifth-round pick Devin Street has not been talked about much, but seriously has the potential to be one of the steals of the draft if he’s able to put up the kind of numbers he did in college. And you can’t forget about Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris, both of which have shown they can make an impact at any given time.
The Cowboys tight end unit is always a strength when you have a guy of Jason Witten’s stature on the roster. The future hall of famer is Romo’s security blanket and finds a way to get it done year after year. If Gavin Escobar can live up to his high draft position and continue to improve then these two together can form a formidable duo that will cause headaches for any defense in the league. And if Linehan can find a way to use James Hanna, who knows what kind of chaos this offense can inflict.
All of this is nice, but in the end the team needs to stay healthy and execute. You can have all the talent in the world, but if it doesn’t come together and guys don’t put the team first, it’ll never work. In my humble opinion, if we’re looking at just the talent, Dallas is a contender. Now they just need to go there and do what it takes to prove it.