The Dallas Cowboys are in approach mode. They have been for the past three years. What does approach mode mean? It means they approach the playoffs, but fall short. They have had what it takes to approach the playoffs, but haven’t been able to “get over the hump” into the playoffs. Now, let’s pull out an absolutely ridiculous statistic and pattern, just for fun. Let’s take a look back at some history.
The last time the Cowboys finished three consecutive seasons with the same record was 2000, 2001, and 2002. These three dreadful seasons under head coach at the time, Dave Campo, ended with 5-11. The next year the Cowboys hired head coach Bill Parcells and the Cowboys finished 10-6 with a playoff appearance. Ah heck, let’s play this game. If this pattern means anything (and it doesn’t) or holds any value (truly, it’s useless) then by all means, the Cowboys will finish with five more wins and a playoff appearance. That means we will be looking at a 13-3 season. Hey, it can happen.
Now that the foolishness is out of the way, let’s look at why the Cowboys are really equipped to finish better than 8-8. Let’s take a look at the offensive line. The Cowboys have what is one of the youngest, strongest and best offensive lines in the league. That’s right, I said it. Assuming that this year’s first round draft pick offensive tackle Zach Martin proves to be an asset, he all but sews up this wall for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Not to mention the fact that they will no doubt open up holes for Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray to do his 40-50 yard waltzes.
So what? So they have a good offensive line, that doesn’t give that extra push to finish 8-8. No, but it helps, and there’s more. We can’t forget the two new coaches that were hired. Defensive guru Rod Marinelli and offensive power hitter Scott Linehan. Rod Marinelli has nowhere to go but up with this defense. The late game lapses by the defense last season hurt the Cowboys more than anything else. Marinelli isn’t working with a bunch of scrubs on defense. They are simply underdeveloped and have not played to their full potential.
Scott Linehan will manifest this offense into a top scoring nightmare. The Cowboys have arguable one of the most envied wide receivers in Dez Bryant. Romo can hopefully have more time behind the line of scrimmage, which will allow Bryant to do his thing down field. If it’s not Bryant, then it’ll be second year wide receiver Terrance Williams. If it’s not Romo connecting with any of these down field threats, then it’ll be Murray breaking through the line for big gains.
Sure, all of this may sound like a bunch of pie in the sky optimism. But the matter of the fact is, the Cowboys are slowly improving. I have seen off-seasons where the Cowboys regressed, and it showed that fall. I feel they have progressed since the draft this year.
It is also clear that the front office isn’t afraid to make the moves that ultimately need to be made. Notably, releasing defensive end DeMarcus Ware, and recently, backup quarterback Kyle Orton. It is tough to cut ties sometimes, but it’s like that old high school relationship that goes on for too long, it has to end sometime. It is all for the good, to make room for newer, younger talent. Well, maybe not younger when you add a guy like Brandon Weeden, but you get my drift. These are all signs that the Cowboys are looking to improve.
There is one word to describe the current state of the Dallas Cowboys: Bolstered.