Changes Are Coming In Dallas
by Kenny Decker
Jan 11, 2014 9:10 AM EST
After a third straight 8-8 season, looking for positives for the Dallas Cowboys can be a tough search. The Cowboys controlled their playoff destiny all the way down to the last game, and yet again, they came out empty.
The roster has talented players, but they dealt with injuries and underachievement all season long. The defense was not only the worst in the league, but also one of the worst in NFL history.
Sean Lee started off having one of his best seasons before injuries cost him most of the second half of the season. Despite missing five games, however, Lee still led the team in interceptions and was second on the team in tackles only behind Barry Church.
DeMarcus Ware had a bad year to his standards, recording only six sacks and 40 tackles.
Dez Bryant had another very good year and was selected to his first career Pro Bowl. He set career highs in receptions and touchdowns. DeMarco Murray rushed for over 1,100 yards and was 10th in the league in rushing yards. He also ranked fourth in yards per carry, and this was all despite missing two full games.
Tony Romo had a season pretty comparable to his 2011 campaign after a career-high 19 interceptions in 2012. Romo was intercepted only ten times this season — some of those are more memorable than others. The Cowboys had only Bryant and OT Andre Smith selected to the Pro Bowl this season — both deservedly so.
Despite the strong seasons from Romo, Murray and Bryant, the Cowboys’ last-ranked defense prevented Dallas from making a playoff push. Especially in a season when the rest of the NFC East — particularly Washington and New York — struggled to find their identity, Dallas failed to capitalize.
Philadelphia was inconsistent early on, but Dallas then fell victim to inconsistency and gave up their divisional lead to the Eagles. The Redskins are now in the midst of a coaching change after Mike Shanahan’s firing earlier this week. The Giants came on strong late in the season, and their defense proved to be decently solid, yet they still finished with only seven wins.
But Dallas is right in the mix with both of them.
The offseason starts now, and there are plenty of issues to address. Decisions need to be made about the defensive staff as well as the defensive players. Expect the Cowboys to draft or sign a safety to play alongside Barry Church. The offensive line was better than it has been in years, but Ryan Cook will be a free agent this offseason. Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer are both free agents this offseason as well. K Dan Bailey is a free agent as well, but given his success in Dallas, expect the Cowboys to secure him.
Most of the free agent decisions will be based off of the Cowboys’ salary cap. Ware has already said he would restructure his contract to clear up space. Jerry Jones has lots of decisions to make on both staff and players. Dallas fans might cringe at the thought of Jones having to make all these management decisions (Perhaps he should hire a general manager?). But mediocrity doesn’t settle well with Jones, so he will be making changes. Only time will tell what those changes will be and how they’ll impact the Cowboys’ future.