The Dallas Cowboys’ secondary redefined the word “embarrassing” in 2011. Cowboys cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick, Terence Newman and Alan Ball dragged the team’s passing defense rank down to 23rd in the NFL for the season, giving up an average of 244 yards per game. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has to make some changes for 2012 if Dallas is to have any hope of a winning season.
Shockingly, the Cowboys’ 2011 pass defense was even worse than it was a season ago. Even though Dallas was ranked even lower in 2010 at 26th, Newman and co. gave up more yards per game in 2011. The Cowboys confirmed this in the team’s season finale loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night. That game was played to decide the NFC East champion, but that was already concluded before the contest began.
Dallas gave up 400 passing yards to Giants quarterback Eli Manning in the teams’ first meeting three weeks ago and didn’t do much better in the division title game. Manning humiliated Newman, Scandrick and Ball on multiple occasions while accumulating 346 yards to go along with three touchdowns.
Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins only gave up on catch the entire night, a five-yarder on a third-and-six that prevented a Giants first down late in the game. Jenkins is the only Cowboys cornerback who should be kept for 2012; Dallas’ secondary is that bad.
There are a slew of good cornerbacks who will be free agents in the upcoming offseason and the Cowboys need to be very active in the bidding for their services. Jones missed out on free agent Nnamdi Asomugha last offseason and failed to pull the trigger on a deal that would have sent Newman to Arizona in exchange for Cardinals stud rookie Patrick Peterson. There can be no excuses for ‘almost’ making those deals in 2012.
The Cowboys have to understand this team is built to win now. That may sound funny after an 8-8 season, but Dallas would have finished 12-4 if it weren’t for four incredibly epic fourth-quarter collapses. The Cowboys would have locked up the NFC East three weeks ago if that were the case.
The Cowboys’ core players aren’t youngsters with the exception of linebacker Sean Lee, running back DeMarco Murray and receiver Dez Bryant. Guys like Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten and linebacker DeMarcus Ware can’t wait another three years for Dallas to rebuild for a title run.
If the Cowboys are to have any hope of winning a Super Bowl with this group like Jones keeps guaranteeing, then he’s going to have to make changes in the secondary. Otherwise, the Dallas faithful will continue to dwindle with the passing of more and more disappointing seasons.
Follow Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin