The Dallas Cowboys have finished the past two seasons at 8-8, but GM Stephen Jones believes that the team can compete for a Super Bowl in 2013.
This is a team that only has one playoff win since 1996, and a team that has missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons.
However, Dallas is a team infused with talent in primary skill positions and the ability to win now in today’s NFL. I believe that the Cowboys will make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Here’s a closer look at why:
1. Callahan Calling Plays– With Bill Callahan now calling plays, Head Coach Jason Garrett can now focus on the little things it takes to win a football game. In previous seasons, Garrett has struggled down the stretch with crucial clock management errors, and the field position battles. The switch will allow him to view the game differently, and not be so consumed in the offense’s successes or woes. During his tenure with the Oakland Raiders, Callahan’s team led the league in rushing 2000 and then in passing in 2002. This was a team that also led the league in total offense. With Romo at the helm, the maturation of Dez Bryant, and the new additions of draft picks Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, and Terrance Williams equip the Cowboys with an aerial arsenal. Along with aerial arsenal, a healthy DeMarco Murray will now be paired with Lance Dunbar, and rookie Joseph Randle. I believe Callahan will find a balance between the aerial and rushing attacks to make the Cowboys lethal in terms of scoring for the 2013-4 season.
2. Return From Injury– Several key players will make their return to the Cowboys after seasons of injuries, no impact felt bigger but then on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, the Cowboys lost 6 regulars on defense, including the emerging Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, as well as starter Jay Ratliff. However, the team still possessed the opportunity to win the NFC East title in Week 16. In addition, superstar pass rusher DeMarcus Ware appears poised for a big season after battling last season with basically one arm. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys will now boast a healthy DeMarco Murray in the backfield, and are hopeful Wideout Miles Austin has overcome his hamstring woes. If the Cowboys can stay relatively healthy in 2013-4, and once again that’s a big if, they can hang with anyone in the NFC East.
3. Change from the 3-4 to the 4-3– With the arrival of new Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys will make a scheme switch for this upcoming season. A shift from the 3-4 to the 4-3 will benefit the Cowboys, as they will more than likely go “small” on defense to maximize their speed. The shift basically substitutes an outside linebacker with a defensive end. This switch makes sense on many levels as young linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter have the speed to chase anyone down on any given play. On the line, the maximization of speed will allow Kiffin to turn pass rushers Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer loose at the quarterback, which is critical in a division with RG3, Eli Manning, and Michael Vick. The question with the scheme change will come in the secondary. However if the secondary can adapt to the change, which I believe they will, Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme can take the Cowboys places, and create turnovers.
4. Romo Contract Extension/Game Preparation– I know the NFL is a performance based league, and Romo’s postseason woes may deem him unworthy of his $106 million contract he signed this offseason. However, Romo, in my opinion is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, ranking in the Top 10. With the lack of an offensive line and an inferior defense, Romo often takes undeserved criticism for trying to do what he can to help the Cowboys win. The pressure on his shoulders to deliver a championship all off his performance alone has been unrealistic.
Romo has what it takes to win a Super Bowl and be a long-time winner in the NFL. As an undrafted free agent, Romo has always felt like he’s had to prove something, and always falls victim to “trying to do too much”. With a new contract under his belt, which I feel is well-deserved, I believe that Romo can now play a little more calm and free, as Jerry Jones has vowed his confidence in him to deliver that trophy. In addition to the monumental contract extension, Romo will now serve a Peyton Manning like role during the week that will allow him to have further input into the game-plan. With further input, Romo can ensure the Cowboys find a balance on offense, making his life easier.
If the things above work out, the Cowboys will finish the season with at least 9 wins, a chance to win the NFC East, and a potential playoff berth. The playoff berth would mean the Dallas Cowboys would indeed be competing for a championship.