I learned one thing from my Giants’ team preview: There’s no way I can be that in depth for all 32 teams. The Cowboys preview will be more streamlined for two reasons. One, I’ve already blogged at length about Marion Barber and Tony Romo. Two, I don’t have the time to do what I did on Wednesday.
The Cowboys were the most disappointing team in the NFL last year. They seemed on paper to be better than the 2007 version that went 13-3, tied for the best record in team history. An injury to Romo along with a general malaise resulted in a 44-6 final week shellacking by the Eagles. There were no playoffs, although there were a lot of players going to the Pro Bowl.
Here are some things I know about 2009. If the Cowboys don’t win in the playoffs, not just make it, Wade Phillips is gone. Actually there are few scenarios I envision that result in Phillips remaining the head coach. A more balanced run-pass ratio is likely. One thing the Cowboys did right last year was draft a couple of running backs.
Let’s start with Romo. As I wrote before, his numbers were a bit off last year, but he was injured and still finished #9 at QB. He should finish higher this year, even without T.O. and with more hand offs. Jon Kitna is the backup. He’s no Brad Johnson, and that’s a good thing.
Enter Marion Barber. I have much love for the Barbarian. The downside is that if you get him in your draft, you have to pick up Tashard Choice and maybe even Felix Jones. Jones is in the mold of a Reggie Bush. Get him out in space and he can make the highlight film. Choice finished strong when Barber and Jones missed time.
T.O. is gone. Get over it, people. Roy Williams was signed, and overpaid, to take his number one wideout slot. He will occupy it physically. In five NFL seasons, Williams has been ranked lower than a WR2 all but one year. He’s going to go higher than you should be willing to pay. The rest of the situation is fluid. Miles Austin is the guy to target. He has 18 career receptions but is the man to beat for the WR2 role. In Dallas, he may end up being the fourth target. Patrick Crayton is the other warm body of note.
Jason Witten is the new WR1 at TE. You will have to draft him very early to get him. Martellus Bennett is the talented backup. You don’t draft backup TEs.
Even though the Cowboys drafted a kicker, Nick Folk should still be the man.
The Cowboy D had 58 sacks, 8 interceptions and 29 fumbles recovered. If Jones is returning kicks, he could take two back. Consider that for team D leagues.
In a 3-4 defense, you generally shy away from defensive linemen. Jay Ratliff had 7.5 sacks at nose tackle. Impressive. DeMarcus Ware had 20. That’s more impressive. Bradie James is the inside linebacker to target, although new addition Keith Brooking should get good tackle numbers. In the secondary, Terance Newman is the name to avoid, while second-year pro Mike Jenkins could put up some numbers. Ken Hamlin was kind of disappointing last year. Gerald Sensabaugh is the strong safety and could be a useful fill-in.
That’s all the time I have for today.