5 Questions Dallas Cowboys Must Answer During Training Camp
5 Questions The Dallas Cowboys Must Answer During Training Camp
Another season, another late season failure. The Dallas Cowboys have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons under head coach Jason Garrett. Last year, saw a new low, losing a do-or-die game to their dreaded rival Washington Redskins. Jerry Jones,never known for his complacency, brought sweeping changes to Big D, firing defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan and replacing him with famed Tampa Two guru Monte Kiffin. The defense will switch to a 4-3 under Kiffin bringing a more conservative approach.
Change is in the air on offense as well as Garrett was unceremoniously stripped of his play calling duties in favor of the grittier Bill Callahan. Callahan looks to simplify the offense by incorporating elements of the Erhardt-Perkins system, which is currently utilized by several teams, most notably the New England Patriots.
Jerry Jones' offseason moves have been heavily scrutinized, signing former Detroit Lions linebacker Jason Durant will help to sure-up the linebacking corps, but the draft was disappointing. The Boys reached in the first round on Wisconsin center, Travis Fredrick, who was projected as a third round pick by most teams. Jones ma have redeemed himself later in the draft by picking up WR Terrence Williams, but time will tell.
Of course the Cowboys couldn't do any of this without drama, and after an underwhelming draft the Cowboys are filled with pressing questions. Everything is bigger in Dallas, including the questions.
Can Romo Get It Done?
Tony Romo's football career has morphed into the football equivalent of Groundhog Day. The Cowboys stumble out of the gate then frantically move into contention only to flame out at the finish line. It's hard to analyze Romo because he's such a polarizing figure. His failures are exacerbated by the fact that most of them are nationally televised.
Fair or not, Romo's reputation as a choke artist is well earned. The NFL is a cutthroat, results driven league where quarterbacks get too much credit when their team wins and too much blame when they lose. But that's why they get the big bucks.
Will Monte Kiffin's Cover Two Defense Work?
Kiffin's experience will add much needed stability to a defense that struggled last year. The Cowboys defense ranked 24th in points allowed, net-YPA allowed, and YPC allowed.
Kiffin's age is a concern, but the 73 year old is beloved by his former players and is the kind of coach that players rally around. Kiffin's famed Tampa Two defense will bring simplicity and accountability back the Cowboys defense.
Can The Offensive Line Improve?
As much as the echo chamber loves to blame the Cowboys' woes on Tony Romo, the offensive line will be as responsible for the Cowboys' fortunes as anything else. Jones has tried to address the line by drafting Tyron Smith in 2011 and Travis Frederick this year.
The Cowboys need better guard play from Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ronald Leary or whoever ends up with those spots, and they need Doug Free to be something more than awful at right tackle. If they just get adequate play from those spots, as opposed to the abysmal, turnstile-type performance of 2012 and Smith and Frederick perform like first-round picks, the offense should work.
Can They Stay Healthy?
Injuries are a part of football, but the injury bug hit the Cowboys especially hard. The injuries to the defense were particularly devastating as DeMarcus Ware played most of the year at 50 percent with a strained right shoulder, Sean Lee was on his way to the Pro Bowl before being sidelined with a torn ligament in his big toe and Bruce Carter drew Ray Lewis comparisons before dislocating his elbow. If these gentlemen can stay healthy the Cowboys defense will be formidable.
Can Dez Bryant Become An Elite Receiver?
Before last season, many questioned whether Dez Bryant would ever reach his full potential. This year people are wondering how good he can be. 2012 will go down as Bryant's breakout year. Dez racked up 92 receptions for 1382 yards and eight touchdowns.
Beyond the stats, Bryant committed himself to his craft like never before; his route running improved, as did his understanding of the Cowboys offense. Bryant has shined in mini-camp thus far, and continued improvement is certain.
Two things could derail Bryant's meteoric rise: injuries and off-field issues. Bryant was able to play through a broken finger last season and has kept a low profile as of late. If he continues on this course the sky's the limit.
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