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2013 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys

by Photo of Kenneth Teape

Expectations are still sky high in Dallas but an average finish looks to be on the docket again.

2013 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys

The NFL Season is getting closer and closer. The Baltimore Ravens took home the Super Bowl last year, but this next season will surely come with plenty of surprises. It's time to get ready for the start of the year by taking a look at all 32 teams to gauge where they are, starting with the worst and ending with the reigning Super Bowl Champs. It's the CHARGED.fm 2013 NFL Preview, and today we're previewing the Dallas Cowboys.

Last Season:

The Dallas Cowboys came into last season with high expectations like every season because of a loaded roster and the media's fascination with “America’s Team.” The Cowboys delivered in Cowboy fashion by being as mediocre and average as possible by finishing 8-8. The Cowboys struggled in big games, going 2-7 against teams with a winning record (they also beat the 8-8 Pittsburgh Steelers). They feasted on losing teams, but to be successful in the NFL you have to beat more than bottom feeders.

Someone it would be hard to blame the Cowboys struggles on last season would be Tony Romo (That was the hardest thing I have ever written as a New York Giants fan). Romo finished third in the NFL with 4,093 passing yards, completing 65.6 percent of his passes to go along with 28 touchdowns.

Romo was able to have such a successful season because of a deep receiving core with talent across the field. Manning the outside were Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Bryant put together a stellar year with 1,382 yards on 92 receptions with 12 touchdowns. Those are stunning numbers when you find out Bryant had only 42 catches for 503 yards and two touchdowns through the first eight games of the season. Also add to that he had an injured finger that required offseason surgery and he was still able to put up stats like that. Check out Bryant dominate his competition last season after a lot of people had given up on him: 

Romo and Austin were not in sync as much as Romo and Bryant though and it hurt as only 66 of 118 targets to Austin were completed compared to 92 of 138 for Bryant. You cannot forget the ageless wonder Jason Witten as well, who was Romo’s favorite target once again in hauling in 110 receptions for 1,039 yards but only three touchdowns.

He did have his struggles though as the offensive line failed to give him good protection in most cases, resulting in 36 sacks against Romo and him throwing 19 interceptions as well.

Where the Cowboys struggled last season was in the running game and on defense. DeMarco Murray was unable to stay healthy and was not very productive when he was on the field, gaining only 663 yards in 10 games on 4.1 yards per rush. His backup Felix Jones did not manage much better, rushing for 402 yards on 111 carries, good for an even uglier 3.6 yards per rush.

The defense was even more of a disaster last season as the Cowboys ranked 19th in total defense and 25th in points allowed per game. The poor performance led to the firing of Rob Ryan as his blitz heavy defense was unable to get it done in Dallas. Even with the infusion of talent in the secondary with Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys defense struggled to stop anyone from scoring. With the defense offering no support and the running game non-existent there was just too much on the shoulders of Tony Romo for this team to get anywhere.

Offseason:

Key Losses (New Team): Felix Jones, RB (Philadelphia Eagles); Kenyon Coleman, DE (New Orleans Saints); Dan Connor, LB (New York Giants); Brian Moorman, P (Pittsburgh Steelers); Mike Jenkins, CB (Oakland Raiders); Kevin Ogletree, WR (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Derrick Dockery, G; Charlie Peprah, S; John Phillips, TE (San Diego Chargers); Marcus Spears, DT (Baltimore Ravens); Victor Butler, LB (New Orleans Saints); Michael Coe, CB; Lawrence Vickers, FB

Key Additions (Old Team): Justin Durant, LB (Detroit Lions); Will Allen, S (Pittsburgh Steelers); Dante Rosario, TE (San Diego Chargers); Demetress Bell, OT (Philadelphia Eagles); George Selvie, DE (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Players Re-Signed: Anthony Spencer, DE; Phil Costa, C; Danny McCray, S; Ernie Sims, LB; Eric Frampton, S; Anthony Armstrong, WR

Players Drafted: Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin; Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State; Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor; J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern; B.W. Webb, CB, William & Mary; Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State; DeVonte Holloman, OLB, South Carolina

It was a peculiar offseason for the Cowboys as they did not do much to address their two biggest needs: an aging defense line and help at offensive tackle. They did well adding some youth and talent to the back end of the defense though, as Durant and Allen coupled with Wilcox and Webb should all see significant time this season and upgrade the defense as a whole. The only question mark with Wilcox and Webb as rookies will be the step up in competition as both played outside of D-1A football. 

Other than that the Cowboys focused on retaining some of their own free agents they felt fit into their plans but saw a lot of talent leave such as two rotation players along their d-line and linebacker spots. Cowboy fans will be happy to see underachieving Jones and Jenkins move on I’m sure. The Cowboys did add some talent in Escobar and Williams in the draft along with Rosario in free agency, but they will not have a chance to really shine unless injuries occur to the players ahead of them in the depth chart.

Season Outlook:

T my most unbias I still cannot see the Cowboys improving much upon last season. Sure Romo and Austin can connect on a couple more passes but that is not going to help the running game. They did nothing to upgrade the position outside of a fifth round pick and the offensive line is still a mess. Romo could have yet another long year dropping back in the pocket as the passing lines disappear quickly and his running backs have nowhere to go in the run game.

The whole defense will see an overhaul as the Cowboys will be switching to a 4-3 base defense from a 3-4. Out is Rob Ryan’s blitz heavy defense and in comes Monte Kiffin, the creator of the Tampa-2 defense many teams employ now. It is a good move on the outside as Ryan’s style just did not fit with the Cowboys but now the question will be if Kiffin has the tools to remake this current roster to fit his style. The Cowboys have run a 3-4 since 2005 and will see a lot of players shifting spots this upcoming season, including DeMarcus Ware moving from linebacker to defensive end. Except Ware’s sack totals to drop this season as he acclimates himself to the new position, which could mean struggles once again for the Cowboys defense.

With the same main pieces as last season and not many new parts a mediocre season looks on the horizon once again in Dallas. A .500 record for a third straight season would surprise no one and such futility will most likely result in the firing of Jason Garrett as head coach. There is only so much mediocrity that owner and general manager Jerry Jones can take.

Let CHARGED.fm find you the best Dallas Cowboys tickets all season long!


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