So we're just outside of training camp, where the preseason will get under way followed by the season opener for Dallas on September 7th, and team officials have yet to follow tradition, as of late, bringing in a big name free agent to address the problems of last year. Specifically, the Cowboys seem to have figured out that an aging vet past his prime won't fix the complete lack of competency shown by the defense in 2013.
Muffed tackles, missed blocks, blown coverage, these are just a few of the blunders on defense last year. Sure, you could toss in the various injuries sustained as an excuse for why this D didn't execute, but that's all it is.
The offense wasn't necessarily dazzling anyone either, not with a thirty-five percent 3rd down conversion rate, but at least Tony Romo managed just 10 interceptions to his 31 touchdowns. The offense wasn't really an issue last year and it's not the concern heading into this season either, but maybe it should be.
So much energy has been spent this year on how the defense sucked in 2013 and what the team is doing to make it better. What we haven't really discussed, aside from some mentions of the offensive line and backup tight ends and receivers, is that this offense enters the season with the weight of the world on its shoulders.
When I look at a third down conversion rate under 50% I see missed opportunities and failure to execute. I see a continued inability by the play caller to move the chains. Of course, the play caller has changed for 2014 so we have to sort of take that as a change for the better and move on until we see if it actually is better.
Just look at these stats from www.DallasCowboys.com:
Overall, the offense did its job well enough that had even a decent defensive effort been put up, they would have won a few more games. These offensive stats are as good – or better – than those of seasons in the 1990's in which Dallas won Super Bowls. Of course, the league has changed a lot in that time, but it just goes to show how important the defense is.
So for this year we should all be concerned about the defense. We should be on the edge of our seats waiting to see if they can turn it around. Meanwhile, it's imperative that the 2013 offense comes back just as good. As the folks over at FootballBettingCenter.com have pointed out, Tony Romo believes that he is “miles ahead of last year” because of the additional time he's had, so far, to train and get ready.
[quote_box_center]“Miles ahead of last year,'' Romo said of his conditioning now compared to last June. “I don't think they're comparable. I think last year I was just starting around this point so this year I've had whatever months to kind of get myself into feeling like I can go.”[/quote_box_center]
That's important for the Cowboys. They need the field general to feel like he is able to work on perfection – instead of conditioning and fundamentals – during training camp. That translates into a more confident quarterback and more capable leader.
The offensive line was good in 2013 but the additions this year should make it better. The wide receivers were good in 2013 and look to be better in 2014 with more experience and practice. Romo claims to be healthy and as long as he and DeMarco Murray can stay healthy, this offense is in position to win games in a shootout.
All we can do is hope that the defense doesn't once again blow leads because, in the long run, even the best offense can only do so much in 60 minutes.