Five Areas in Which the Dallas Cowboys Must Improve in 2013
Looking at the picture of head coach Jason Garrett, I can honestly say I felt the same way during the 2012 season.
I don’t know what the expectations are for a team with a second-year head coach and a bunch of unproven talent, but for the Dallas Cowboys it’s Super Bowl or bust, more often than not.
Even when they’ve been irrelevant for the better part of 18 years, and not much more than a .500 team, people feel the Cowboys can somehow, someway be Super Bowl contenders. In my opinion, those expectations come with the territory. You can’t be one of the most successful franchises in NFL regular and postseason history, and one day simply fall off the face of the planet, however, the Cowboys seem to have done, just that.
And, from the looks of things, it’s going to take even longer to get back to glory, now that the Cowboys will be rebuilding the defense. The Cowboys will be making the switch from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3 defense in 2013, after the team fired Rob Ryan and hired 72-year old Monte Kiffin.
There are some pieces in place to make the transition a smooth one, but the Cowboys will need time to learn the scheme and find the right players for the system, however, I don’t know that time is on their side. Their 72-year old defensive coordinator isn’t getting any younger and neither are the likes of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and DeMarcus Ware all of whom will be over 30-years of age in 2013.
So, what do the Cowboys need to do to make it work in 2013?
First and most importantly, Garrett will need to have another stellar draft when the time comes in April. He’s found gems like DeMarco Murray, Sean Lissemore and Dwayne Harris in the later rounds of the draft, and that must continue in 2013.
However, if the Cowboys want to make it work next season and at least make a serious playoff run, they must address and correct the following problems.
Protect the Ball
The Cowboys turned the ball over 29 times and finished the season minus-16 in turnover differential. So without a doubt, the Cowboys must take better care of the ball on offense. Let me put this into perspective, the Atlanta Falcons, as a team, had 18 turnovers; one less turnover than Tony Romo had interceptions.
Run the Ball
In 2012, the Cowboys turned in their worst rushing performance, in team history, partly, because of DeMarco Murray’s inability to stay healthy, but mostly because the additions of Mackenzy Bernadeau, Nate Livings, and Lawrence Vickers weren’t very good, at all. Retooling the offensive line, and or picking up a durable running back should be in the works for 2013, in my opinion
Play Disciplined Football
In 2012, the Cowboys had 117 penalties for 853 yards called against them. What bothers me is that most of the penalties called against the Cowboys, were on veteran players. That has to change in 2013; they cannot consistently shoot themselves in the foot by playing undisciplined football and expect to win games.
Win the Turnover Battle
Along with protecting the ball on offense, the Cowboys must find a way to cause turnovers on defense. As a team, the Cowboys finished 2012 with only seven interceptions. Here’s a startling fact, there were four players that had as many if not more interceptions as the Cowboys did, individually.
Special Teams Must be Special
The Cowboys found a spark on special teams in Dwayne Harris, and they need to take advantage of it. Special teams can change a game quickly, and the Cowboys must add that dimension to their repertoire. They must also protect and cover better on special teams. Had special teams shown up against the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens, maybe this team isn’t 8-8 at the end of the season.