Dallas Cowboys: Don’t sweat the preseason


Frankly stated, the Dallas Cowboys have not had a stellar or even a particularly interesting preseason thus far. And that’s really okay. They could be winless before the regular season begins, and it means nothing substantive.

While it’s somewhat enjoyable to watch preseason games, it isn’t nearly as riveting as watching a real regular season contest. I have been surprised this year to see NFL analysts placing weight on these preliminary games, as if they could serve as any type of indicator for what will happen in the months ahead. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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You can use these games to evaluate an individual’s performance, but not the whole team. 

Let’s face facts: these games are meaningful mostly to the players who are hoping to gain a spot on the final, 53-man roster. Think of it as a month long, extremely difficult job interview.

Beyond that, it’s just fun to see a sampling of professional football and to know that the real stuff is coming soon. In the Cowboys’ case, they will kick off their regular season at home against the division rival New York Giants in ten days.

I’ve read at least three articles this past week indicating that the Philadelphia Eagles are now the favorites to win the NFC East, based exclusively on the first three preseason games. This is a shift from a few weeks ago, and it’s also a big-time mistake. Here’s one such example, if you want to inflict these types of opinions on yourself.

Here’s some better food for thought:

In 2014, the Cowboys went 0-4 in the preseason, and 12-4 in the regular season. The Eagles had a better preseason, with a 2-2 record. They were 10-6 in actual games last year.

The last winning preseason record for the Cowboys was in 2012, when they went 3-1. Their regular season record was 8-8.

Perhaps the best and most glaring example of a team that managed to fall far short of expectations would be the 2008 Detroit Lions, who were a perfect 4-0 in the preseason, then proceeded to lose every single game after that, finishing an abysmal 0-16.

Who knows? Maybe this could happen with the Eagles this season. It’s doubtful, but it’s also silly to give much credence to these early games, which are more like experiments for many teams.

And yes, I would be saying the same thing if the Cowboys were undefeated right now.

“The lights are bright, but they’re not too bright for him. He’s going to be a big part of our success this year.”

There is no need to worry about the future performance of this team based on games in which starting quarterback

Tony Romo

has played only two quarters, and star wide receiver

Dez Bryant

has yet to play a down.

In short, fans can expect good things to happen this year.

Romo is in top form, by all accounts. Bryant was rewarded with a big, shiny, new contract in the offseason. The offensive line is unquestionably the best in the NFL, and the top two running backs looked good in their first outing this past week.

One huge bright spot is the fact that the Cowboys have shored up their pass rush tremendously, adding defensive ends Randy Gregory and Greg Hardy (who will start in week 5). Along with Tyrone Crawford and second-year end DeMarcus Lawrence, they promise to be formidable for opposing quarterbacks.

This will also help the secondary to perform at a higher level, because they won’t be forced to cover receivers for an eternity. Also, pressured quarterbacks tend to make more mistakes and throw more interceptions.

With the return of linebacker Sean Lee, I wouldn’t be surprised if this team can move into the top ten defenses overall. Lee leads all NFL linebackers for interceptions since 2010, despite missing an entire season last year to injury.

Gregory managed to ring up a sack in each of the preseason games so far, which is an encouraging sign. If the team could manage an extra sack per game in 2015, that could make a huge difference down the stretch.

Team owner Jerry Jones had this to say about Gregory’s performance, while speaking to the Dallas Morning News:

"“The lights are bright, but they’re not too bright for him. He’s going to be a big part of our success this year.”"

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was equally impressed speaking to the News, stating simply…

"“It’s great to see a lot of guys that can get after the quarterback. It sure makes my job easier. I’ll tell you that much.”"

Let some other team be preseason champs. I would prefer to see my team do something real.

Go Cowboys!

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