Training camps are underway. The preseason has officially kicked off and the 2015 regular season is just weeks away. With that, let’s continue our look at the NFL, team by team, highlighting the good news, the bad news, and the overall impression.
Dallas Cowboys (12-4, 4-2 Div.)
Good News – The best o-line in football resides in Dallas.
Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zach Martin were the heart of the o-line last season. All three are first round draft picks, 2014 Pro Bowlers, and two of them, Martin and Smith, are 2014 All-Pro selections. Up until last year, DeMarco Murray was viewed as a good running back that could never stay healthy. Give him the best offensive line in the NFL, and he plays in all 16 games, sets an NFL record for consecutive 100 yard rushing games to start a season (8), runs for over 1,800 yards, and scores 13 touchdowns. Tony Romo, a quarterback with chronic back problems, was only sacked 29 times. Not including 2010, when Romo only played in 6 games, that’s the fewest since 2008. Add another first round talent to the mix in with La’el Collins to go along with veteran Doug Free, and this unit will be scary in September.
Bad News – Darren McFadden or Joseph Randle could be the starter.
Notice I didn’t say the bad news was that DeMarco Murray is gone. His departure made sense for the Cowboys. He wanted to cash in on his 2014 success and Dallas still had to re-sign Dez Bryant, a much more valuable piece to the Cowboys’ offense. Had the Cowboys gone out and signed Chris Johnson or traded up to get Melvin Gordon in the draft, this wouldn’t be an issue. Instead they have two guys that provide inexperience and injury problems. Joseph Randle is a 3rd year career backup and Darren McFadden has topped 1,000 yards once in his career and last year played in all 16 games for the first time, while only rushing for 534 yards and 2 touchdowns. There were two ways to replace DeMarco Murray: effectively and cost-efficiently. The Cowboys certainly got the cost-efficient part.
Jerry Jones either sees something in Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle that literally no one else does, or he is turning the Cowboys into a pass-first team again. If it’s the latter, there will be a new NFC East winner this year. Romo has proven he cannot win when he carries the offense. In the three postseasonless (that’s a word now) years prior to 2014, Tony Romo averaged 4,305 passing yards and 568 attempts. In 2014, Romo threw for 3,705 yards off 435 attempts. Yes, the Cowboys have the best offensive line in football, but they have an inexperienced running back as well as another back whose confidence looked broken last year. Another 8 and 8 finish is looming for the Dallas Cowboys.
Image from the Dallas News