Dallas Cowboys: Why ESPN is wrong (again) about America’s Team


I don’t really want to do it…

I honestly never have the intention of sitting down at the computer and checking out football related articles online for the purpose of finding nits in which to pick.

I especially don’t have a specific agenda when it comes to the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

Unfortunately, for whatever particular reason, ESPN just knows how to push my buttons.  Seemingly every year, they put out some sort of junk related to the Dallas Cowboys, finding flaws in this team or explaining why this team won’t be good in (insert whatever year it is).

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This year, if you’re an insider, you have the access to read a piece by KC Joyner, aka the “The Football Scientist” explaining why the Cowboys (and to be fair the Patriots as well) will not be as good as they were last season.

If you don’t have the access, Joyner makes three points as to why Dallas will decline in 2015, although two of them are pretty much the same, but I digress.

The first point is related to the supposedly obvious dip in the production the Cowboys will suffer running the football.  Stop if you’ve heard this one before…

You mean, now that DeMarco Murray has taken his talents to the land of cheese steaks and perpetual sports failure, the Cowboys have no chance at having a good offense??  Oh no… whatever will Dallas do??

The record is beyond broken.  We get it.  Murray is amazing and we have no one capable of duplicating his 2014 performance.

The problem with repeating the same refrain over and over is that it covers up an extremely glaring fact.

DeMarco Murray himself will be just as incapable of duplicating that performance.  There is a reason that all the team records he broke last season were around for almost 20 years.  Congratulations to you DeMarco, but here’s the thing…

You just amassed almost half of your career touchdown total in just one year.  This performance would not have even been an option had the Cowboys not given you a ridiculous amount of rushing attempts in the first place… or you weren’t running behind three All-Pro offensive linemen… and you didn’t have a top five quarterback/receiver combo.

No one expects Joseph Randle to tote the rock 400 times, get 1,800 yards or score 15 times.  In fact, no one really expects much from Darren McFadden or Lance Dunbar either.

The point shouldn’t be that Dallas will get worse because one guy doesn’t hit those numbers.  If three guys do (or get reasonably close), then it doesn’t matter.  Even if the running game does fail, it doesn’t instantly spell doom either.

Are you telling me the passing game can’t help carry the slack?  Receivers Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams are both going to improve.  Let’s also remember that tight end Jason Witten had his lowest receiving totals since 2006.  I guarantee his numbers dipped last year because of the continuous carries that Murray received.

There are more ways to augment the loss of those numbers Murray put up.  All is not lost because he’s gone.

The other two points revolve around the defense.  Joyner questions the ability of the Cowboys secondary and hypothesizes that Dallas will be involved in a lot of high scoring games which they will lose due to the time the defense will be on the field.

Here is what Joyner wrote:

"“The Cowboys led the league in time of possession last season (32:50), a stat that helped Dallas protect its subpar secondary. This was a main reason the Cowboys had only two games where they allowed 30 or more points, a total that tied for second best in the league. But if the Cowboys aren’t able to run the ball as well, you’d have to assume their ability to control the clock will suffer, too. I’d expect a defensive performance closer to 2013, when Dallas’ had seven games of 30-plus points allowed, tied for second-worst in the league.”“The Cowboys have a schedule full of opponents with high-powered passing attacks — two games against the Giants and Eagles, plus contests against Atlanta, Miami and Green Bay. In fact, with Washington, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Buffalo and the Jets also on the docket, Dallas might face more upper-tier wide receivers than any team this year.  All of this is to say the Cowboys are going to have to win shootouts early and often to stay in playoff contention. And Dallas hasn’t fared so well in such situations in the last. Remember 2013, when they allowed 30-plus points seven times? They lost six of those games.”"

The biggest issue with this thought process is when Joyner constantly tries to compare this year’s defense to the 2013 defense which was the worst in the history of the franchise.

I highly doubt that this team, after adding defensive end Greg Hardy, getting linebacker Sean Lee back and plugging in draft picks Randy Gregory and Byron Jones, is going to duplicate a performance that had not occurred in the 53 years prior to 2013.

Also lauding the Eagles, Redskins, Panthers, Bills and Jets for their “upper-tier” wide receivers is laughable because those five teams have spotty quarterbacks at best getting them the ball.

Lastly, why can’t a pass rush that features Hardy, Gregory, Jeremy Mincey, Demarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford help out the “subpar secondary” by putting constant pressure on the quarterback?

The truth is that I believe the Cowboys will actually be a better team in 2015 than they were last year.  They might not go 12-4, but they won’t do worse than 10-6 and they will win this division again.

Dallas faces a much more difficult schedule this year which may contribute to a slightly worse record.  It will also make them battle tested in January, where a run beyond the second round is extremely possible.

I’ll give back a couple of regular season wins for an extended run into February.

I’m pretty sure you will too…

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Is this rookie the next Darren Woodson?