In part one of this two-part series, I discussed how the departure of Greg Ellis, Terrell Owens, and Zach Thomas will affect the team going forward.
There are a ton of questions facing the Cowboys, as with any offseason, but this seems to be a make-or-break year for a team that is expected to make a Super Bowl run every season.
Part two of the series discusses how the Cowboys will fare in the “NFC Beast” this season, and addresses those pesky rumors about Garrett and Bum Phillips’ son.
With the departure of Plaxico in New York, the Eagles spurning Dawkins and allowing him to walk to Denver, and an owner in Washington who has no confidence in his quarterback, how will the Cowboys fare in the NFC East?
For the first time in a long time, the Cowboys seem to be one of the most stable teams in NFC East. Terrell is gone and the focus has shifted to Romo, but the circus atmosphere that surrounded the ‘Boys the past few years isn’t as prevalent this season.
The New York Giants running attack will be strong, but not as potent without Derrick Ward. Sack machine Osi Umenyiora will be back from a knee injury, but the offense will be without its lightning rod, Plaxico Burress.
While I believe that the Giants will having a winning record and make a run at the playoffs, I don’t see another improbable Super Bowl run like a couple years ago.
Heading south to D.C., the Redskins have a huge question mark at quarterback. I’m not questioning the skills of former Auburn man Jason Campbell, but his owner seems to have lost all confidence in the kid.
Campbell was left out to dry when the team unsuccessfully tried to trade for quarterback Jay Cutler and then attempted to draft former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.
The team may not have much faith in Jason, but from all accounts, he still thinks that he can get the job done.
Washington’s only hope at the playoffs this year may be the mental stability of its “star” quarterback. If Campbell can hold steady and Clinton Portis remains healthy, an 8-8 season isn’t that far out of reach.
Over in “Illadelphia,” Donovan McNabb has a new contract, Brian Dawkins is now a Bronco, and blitzing defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is out indefinitely due to a battle with cancer.
As much as I disdain the Eagles, the team seems to be poised for another playoff run as their skill position players are still in place.
The battle for 1-2-3 in the NFC East will be between the Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles. The Cowboys ran away with the division in 2007, and they have the chance to do so again this year.
The ‘Boys have a dastardly tough schedule to end the year with road games against the Giants, Redskins, and Saints. Like last season, the team will face off against the Eagles in the last game of the year, but this time it will be in Texas.
History will be the judge of the future in this case, and I can’t defer from where the ‘Boys have finished the last few years. Their schedule in December is daunting, and the team hasn’t had a winning record during that part of year in over a decade.
Look for the Cowboys to finish second in the NFC East to the Giants or Eagles, but make a serious playoff run in January.
Will this be Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett’s last season in Dallas?
Wade Phillips is entering his third season as head coach in Dallas, and I’m not sure if Jerry will continue to make excuses for Phillips.
As many were calling for Wade’s dismissal after last season’s debacle, Jerry stood by his head coach. Instead of feeding him to the wolves, Jerry decided to give Bum’s son another shot.
If Tony Romo has taken the reigns of the team, the same must be said for Wade Phillips. After last season’s shootout against the Eagles early in the year, which ended with the cowboys winning 41-37, Phillips defended his defense by saying the Eagles were just receiving good breaks and capitalizing off of a few turnovers.
That type of explanation will not fly this season. Wade either has to lead this team deep in the playoffs or to a Super Bowl birth in order to keep his job. His defense has to stand up in the latter months of the season against teams like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
A few years ago, when Jerry brought back former back-up quarterback Jason Garrett to serve as offensive coordinator, it seemed a match made in Heaven as Romo flourished under Garrett’s tutelage.
Last season, though, Romo floundered a little under Garrett’s system and seemed to criticize Jason’s play calling.
Garrett probably has a longer leash than Phillips, simply because he isn’t the head coach.
Heading into training camp, Phillips may have a little sense of urgency because the Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game this decade.
The defense may be a little meaner and the offense a little more disciplined. The turnovers have to stop, and Romo can’t throw his customary one interception a game just to get it out of his system.
If Phillips and Garrett are to remain in Valley Ranch, they both must turn the Cowboys into a more streamlined outfit.
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the most talent-filled rosters in the league. Of course T.O. is gone, and so is Greg Ellis, but the team is still poised to make a serious run at the Super Bowl.
I predicted that the Cowboys will finish second in their division this season, but that could bode well for them. Flying under the radar isn’t something they’re accustomed to doing, and this season just may be the one where they do so.
Overall, I think the team will finish 11-5 with losses against the Giants and Eagles in the division. But, we have to get past training camp to enter into a total season preview.