There seems to be a divide among Cowboys fans on Twitter these days. You have those who are ready to jump off the ledge with regards to the 2016 season, and those who are criticizing the ones who are ready to jump. The truth of the matter is that nobody should be happy with the Cowboys decisions during this off season. Period.
The Cowboys had a golden opportunity to position themselves as kings of the NFC East. Yes, you can blame the 2015 season on injuries to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Yes, you can say that they went 12-4 in 2014 and were a poor call away from the NFC Championship Game. However, this doesn't preclude you from trying to make your team better than it was in either season. Getting Tony Romo and Dez Bryant healthy will be instrumental to success for this team. Even with that, I think it is simple-minded to think the Cowboys teams in 2014 and 2015 were anywhere near perfect or comfortable enough to be declared a “sure thing.”
Instead, the Cowboys are now relying on a formula similar to the one from 2014. Do you feel comfortable with that? I, for one, do not. A lot of things went right in 2014. They beat the odds against them in being an extremely shallow team with clear deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball by hiding it through the offense.
You can hide a poor defense as much as you want but I'll compare it to what happened with Sean Lee's knee prior to the 2014 season. It was well-known that eventually something would have happened to Sean Lee's knee. It was a matter of when more than it was if. On a random play in non-contact pre-training camp drills, Sean's knee finally succumbed to the ACL tear.
The Cowboys defense being exposed will be an issue of when rather than if, as well.
It is far from being a good defense as is and a draft will likely not do much to change that. They may have some good role players and rotational guys, but they are lacking elite talent all throughout the defense.
An offense can hide these deficiencies by controlling the time of possession. Deep rotations (which they do not have right now) can keep fresh bodies on the field to help get away from not having elite talent.
The one thing that cannot be argued is that they made this a lot more difficult than it had to be… So a lot of things will have to go right in 2016 for this to be a successful team.
When I say a lot of things have to go right, I mean A LOT.
- Tony Romo must stay healthy.
- Dez Bryant must stay healthy.
- Demarcus Lawrence's back issue must be something that wasn't important.
- Tyrone Crawford cannot sustain another injury.
- The secondary can't have another preseason injury like Orlando Scandrick's.
- They must find a running back that can grind out long drives.
- They must completely own the time of possession battle.
- Sean Lee and Rolando McClain must stay healthy and play at a high level.
The list goes on and on and on…
This team can have success in 2016; I'm not here to argue that. My point is that they have made this task an extremely difficult one.
Instead of packing this team with depth and high-end talent at positions of need, they have done virtually nothing. They are relying on a draft to fill in the holes on this team, some of them being massive.
If things go right and they are able to stay healthy and cover their holes, this team can still be very good.
The way to win is by having something utterly dominant.
The Broncos had a dominant defense, particularly their defensive line. The Patriots defy all rules but were led through a short, quick passing attack. The Seahawks had a dominant secondary. The list goes on and on.
The Cowboys can win through their offensive line. That is the one thing the Cowboys have that a lot of teams do not have. They can say that one of their units is the best in the league. If the Cowboys can use their offensive line to control the running game and time of possession, providing Tony Romo with clean pockets to counter off the running game, that is the way the Cowboys can find success in 2016.
This won't be easy. It could have been a lot easier. They could have improved all of their holes AND had the running game from 2014 to control the time of possession and make the defense even more dominant.
A lot will have to go right, but this is far from over.