2014 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys

2014 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys

24-24. That’s the record of the Dallas Cowboys over the last three years. The definition of ordinary. Entering 2014, a .500 finish might be considered a huge success when taking into account the roster turnover on defense, and Tony Romo’s recovery from back surgery. Jason Garrett is a dead coach walking, although his survival probably has more to do with Jerry Jones’ inability to dupe a qualified candidate into becoming his newest yes-man. To be fair, Garrett deserves credit for keeping a team devoid of talent at critical spots afloat since 2011. Jones’ bungling of the salary cap and personnel decisions have affixed the franchise on the precipice. Eventually, the house of cards will crumble and plunge them into the abyss. Will this be the year it happens? Here’s a preview of the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.

Outlook: A defense that finished dead last in yards allowed rebuilt its entire front four with castoffs and will be without linebacker Sean Lee for the season. Making matters worse, a secondary that yielded 33 touchdowns added no significant upgrades. Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, and Jason Witten are a potent foursome, but each will have to deliver week in and week out to keep this team in games. The good news is nobody in the NFC East plays defense, so winning a few shootouts is possible. Luck hasn’t been on their side of late, but that will have to change for them to advance to the playoffs.

New arrivals: First-round draft pick Zach Martin was a smart selection and fills an immediate need on an improving offensive line. Martin is pro ready and should do well alongside second-year center Travis Frederick. Henry Melton is a beast pass rusher up the gut, but his off the field behavior is problematic. Jeremy Mincey is a fading journeyman pegged to start Week 1. Second-rounder Demarcus Lawrence has massive shoes to fill at defensive end, but the opportunity to shine is there for the taking. Rookie receiver Devin Street lacks physicality, but he has excellent size and hands. Brandon Weeden is Romo’s new backup (crickets).

Wave goodbye:  DeMarcus Ware has succumb to age and injuries, but it took Denver less than 24 hours to sign him to a 3-year, $30 million deal after he was released. Despite his decline, he’s a Hall of Fame player who will be greatly missed. From 2008-12, Jason Hatcher totaled 11.5 sacks. In 2013, he notched 11, which was more than enough ammunition to net a $27.5 million contract from the rival Redskins. Veteran Brian Waters was made expendable by the drafting of Martin.

Over/Under wins – 8: Of course Vegas set the number at 8. What else would it be? A murderer’s row schedule and a defense cobbled together with bubble gum and bailing wire places an immense amount of pressure on the offense to score 30 every week. They have the talent to light up the scoreboard, providing Romo, Bryant, and Murray stay healthy. If they reach 8 wins this season, Garrett should be named Coach of the Year.

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