If the Dallas Cowboys don’t win the Super Bowl, their fans call for Tony Romo’s job and complain that Jerry Jones doesn’t know what he’s doing. I agree with the second statement, but Romo is a top-10 quarterback in the NFL.
They have much bigger issues than Romo and Jones. The Cowboys’ backfield is messy and injury-prone, the secondary has been their Achilles’ Heel and Dez Bryant’s off-the-field problems are the top three issues for Dallas. If they can solve two of those problems, they’ll be a title contender.
Key Additions: CB Brandon Carr, QB Kyle Orton, S Brodney Pool, LB Dan Connor, OG Mackenzy Bernadeau, OT Pat McQuistan, FB Lawrence Vickers, OG Nate Livings, CB Morris Claiborne, TE James Hanna, DE Tyrone Crawford, LB Kyle Wilber and S Matt Johnson.
Key Losses: TE Martellus Bennett, S Abram Elam, CB Terrence Newman, WR Laurent Robinson, S Gerald Sensabaugh, P Mat McBriar, LB Keith Brooking, CB Alan Ball, FB Tony Fiammetta, LB Bradie James and QB Jon Kitna.
Non-Division Schedule: AFC North and NFC South
Fantasy Sleepers: TE James Hanna & RB Phillip Tanner – Jason Witten has played ten seasons and is 30 years old. The Cowboys run plenty of 2-TE sets and Hanna is the next best tight end on the roster. He was impressive in college at Oklahoma and is in line to be Witten’s successor. He is a big target for Tony Romo and has nice hands. As far as Phillip Tanner goes, DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones are both injury risks. If Murray goes down at any point this season, Tanner will assume his role. Jones will stay as the change-of-pace back this year.
Team Analysis: I have been high on the Cowboys for the past five seasons, but I always change my mind by July. They make stupid signings and let key veterans walk in lieu of ‘sexy free agent’ signings. This past off-season, Dallas refrained from throwing a bunch of money at the best available free agent wide receiver and wisely used their available cap space. They added depth to their team by signing Orton to backup Romo and signed Pool and Carr to strengthen their secondary…smart moves. Dallas has some nice young pieces on offense. If Bryant can keep his nose clean and their running backs stay healthy, they will be one of the top-scoring offenses in the league. Their upgraded secondary will be tested this season. The NFC East has firepower at quarterback, but so does the NFC South, which they’ll be playing against this season. A lot of things have to go right for the Cowboys to win twelve games this season, but I think everything finally lines up for Romo.
2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 8.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 12-4