YOOOAdrian’s 2010 NFL Preview- Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys finally got the invisible monkey off their back by finally winning a playoff game for the 1st time in 13 years.  The next step is to get to the Super Bowl, which coincidently is being played in Jerry Jones’ palace in Dallas.

Quarterbacks

Tony Romo- 347/550 63.1% 4,483 yds 26 td 9  int 97.6 rat

Romo had his best season as a full-time starter in Dallas.  He cut down tremendously on the interceptions and fumbles.  In the 2008 season, he had 21 turnovers in 13 games, while last season he had 13 turnovers in 16 games.  His 1.6 interception rate was the 3rd lowest in the NFL. 

Romo was better in the pocket and didn’t force as many passes.  His playmaking flair has changed.  He still makes plays when the play breaks down, but he’s just smarter about it.  He threw the ball away when nothing was there.

(Tony Romo)

As a pro, Romo had his 1st winning record in December as a starter.  His playoffs started off with a bang as he shined against Philadelphia, going 23/35 for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He absolutely tanked against Minnesota.  He went 22/35 for 198 yards with an interception and 2 fumbles lost.  Dallas lost 34-3.  

Others– Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee

Kitna is a solid backup who’s started in the past.  Obviously that was years ago, but at 37 he can fill in emergency situations.  McGee is a 2nd year player from Texas A+M.

GRADE- 8.5

Running Backs

Felix Jones– 116 car  685 yds  5.9 avg  3 td  19 rec  119 yds 

Jones is a guy looking to take over the starting spot of the incumbent Marion Barber.  Jones is capable of breaking out this season.  Over his final 6 games last year, he carried the ball 79 times for 475 yards and 2 touchdowns.

(Felix Jones)

Jones is a flat-out burner.  He bangs out 20+ yard runs one after another.  He averaged 20+ yard runs once every 16.7 touches.  Compare that to Marion Barber who goes 20+ ever 37.9 touches.  He has good vision, and if he can get to the edge, he has a great opportunity to see paydirt. 

Marion Barber- 214 car  932 yds  4.4 avg  7 td  26 rec  221 yds

It looks like Barber is moving back to the role he had when he backed up Julius Jones in 2007.  2007 was a year in which Barber had arguably his best season.  Barber relished in the “closer” role.  Whenever the defenses tired late in the 2nd and 4th quarter, Barber would step in and take advantage of the tiring defense Barber runs with such a forceful and bruising style that is perfect for the closer role. 

There are disadvantages to running with that powerful style.  He’s been set-back by so many nagging injuries.  He’s battled knee, quad and thumb injuries the past 1 seasons. 

Others- Tashard Choice, Deon Anderson

Choice will take snaps out of the wildcat, while Anderson will be the lead-blocking fullback.

GRADE- 7.5

Receivers

 Miles Austin- 81 rec  1,320 yds  16.3 avg  11 td

Miles Austin straight-up broke out in his 4th season in the NFL from Monmouth.  He had just 18 total receptions in his 3 prior years until his breakthrough campaign.

He is best after the catch with his solid route-running and footwork.  His straight-line speed is good and he doesn’t drop too many footballs.  We’ll find out this season if indeed last season was a fluke.  And with a great season in Dallas, you get to date a Kardashian, congrats!

(Miles Austin)

Roy Williams- 38 rec  596 yds  15.7 avg  7 td

On October 15, 2008, the Dallas Cowboys acquired Roy Williams from the Detroit Lions for a 2009 1st rd pick, plus a 3rd and a 6th and a 2010 7th rounder.  Dallas then signed Williams to a 5 year $45 million extension, $20 million guaranteed.  Williams has been nothing more than a disappointment for Dallas, and the team has too much invested in him to cut ties.

Due to Austin’s emergence, William’s diminished role seemed to hurt some of his confidence.  He still has all the raw ability to make an impact this coming year.

Dez Bryant- ROOKIE

Bryant is a physical specimen drafted as an insurance policy in case Williams doesn’t pan out. At Oklahoma State his play reminds me of Baltimore Raven Anquan Boldin.

Jason Witten- 94 rec  1.030 yds  11.0 avg  2 td

Romo’s cuddly, friendly, insurance blanket continues to be consistent year-in and year-out for Dallas.  Witten’s blocking gets overshadowed because of his strong pass catching abilities.  He has 6 straight seasons of 60+ catches.

Others- Patrick Crayton, Kevin Ogletree, Martellus Bennett

Bennett has all the tools to be a dominating tight end in the NFL, but he has too many mental lapses.  Ogletree is a guy I like.  He showed ability in limited playing time last year.  Crayton is solid, but he’s been asking for a trade.

GRADE- 8

Offensive Line

LT- Doug Free

Free has the unenviable task of replacing 12 year left tackle Flozell Adams.  He’s agile and moves his feet well, but is he ready to take on a team’s best pass rusher every week?  This is the team’s biggest question mark heading into the season.

LG- Kyle Kosier

Kosier is not the most athletic player, but he’s smart and solid as a guard.

C- Andre Gurode

Gurode is a punishing run blocker using his size and strength.  He’s improved as a pass blocker.

ANDREGURODE.jpg Andre Gurode image by BrockWells_bucket

(Andre Gurode)

RG- Leonard Davis

Davis is another punishing run blocker.  He and Gurode make a nice run blocking tandem inside.

RT- Marc Colombo

He uses his power well, but he’s injury prone.  He missed 9 games last year due to an ankle injury.

GRADE- 7.5

 Defensive Line

LDE- Marcus Spears- 25 tck  2.5 sck  1 p def

Spears is a former 1st round pick who has been a bit disappointing because he’s not been as big of a playmaker as expected.  He plays the 5 technique.  He’s solid against the run and flattens down the line effectively.

NT- Jay Ratliff- 40 tck  6 sck 2 ff

Ratliff is a former 7th round pick who has transformed himself into one of the best nose-tackles in the NFL.  He made his 1st NFL All-Pro 1st team last year.

(Jay Ratliff)

Ratliff is a playmaker.  He’s athletic, has a neverendless motor and has a tenacious mindset.  He cuts through double-teams with ease.  He’s gotten better against the run to make himself a 3 down nose-tackle.

RDE- Igor Olshansky- 40 tck  1.5 sck

Olshansky had a solid 1st year after coming over from San Diego.  He shields blocks off well so DeMarcus Ware can rush the quarterback.

Others- Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, Junior Siavii

Bowen and Hatcher will come in for Spears on 3rd-downs to rush the passer.  Siavii is strictly a run stuffer.

GRADE- 7.25

Linebackers

LOLB- Anthony Spencer- 67 tck  6 sck  2 ff  1 int  7 p def

In his 3rd season in the NFL Spencer finally broke out.  In his final 8 contests, including postseason play, Spencer concluded with 8 sacks, 22 quarterback pressures and 2 forced fumbles.

Spencer is one of the better outside linebacker run defenders in the NFL.  His reason for breaking out was his greatly improved pass rushing.

LILB- Bradie James- 113 tck  2 sck  1 ff  5 p def 

James is an underrated commodity in the linebacking core.  He’s been the leading tackler for Dallas the last 5 years.  He’s smart and instinctive. 

RILB- Keith Brooking- 106 tck  3 sck  7 p def

Brooking, who came over from Atlanta provided immediate contributions with his leadership on and off the field.  He’s a wily veteran who sheds blockers well and stuffs the running backs in the hole.

ROLB- DeMarcus Ware- 57 tck  11 sck  5 ff  6 p def

Ware is arguably the best pass-rusher in football.  He battled injuries last year, but still posted 11 sacks after a 20 sack campaign in 2008.

(DeMarcus Ware)

Ware is a relentless pursuer who has fantastic speed and body control to get around the edge.  When he gets to the quarterback, he does a good job of swiping at the ball when bringing down the quarterback, witnessed by his 23 career forced fumbles. 

Others- Sean Lee, Victor Butler, Brian Williams

Sean Lee, a 2nd round pick from Penn State, is drawing rave reviews from Dallas coaches.  He’s smart and a tough competitor.

GRADE- 9

Secondary

LCB- Terence Newman- 57 tck  3 int  18 p def  3 ff

Newman is not getting younger, but his coverage skills are still among the best in the NFL, very reliable.  He’s just solid in all areas, but he’s not necessarily a game changer.

(Terence Newman)

 RCB- Mike Jenkins- 49 tck  5 int  19 p def

Jenkins is another player on defense who broke out last season.  A pro-bowler for the first time last season, Jenkins is great in man coverage and has excellent ball skills.  He has speed and closes in on the ball quickly.  He needs to improve on his tackling.

 CB- Orlando Scandrick- 51 tck  1 int  9 p def  1 sck

Scandrick is a guy who plays off a bit too much.  He does keep the receivers in front of him, but he simply allows too many passes to be caught.  He is good in run support and blitzing the quarterback.

 FS- Alan Ball- 31 tck  3 p def

Ken Hamlin got cut, and now there’s a full-out battle for the starting spot at free safety.  Ball looks like the favorite thus far.  Ball is a small converted corner, who plays the safety position like a corner.

 SS- Gerald Sensabaugh- 66 tck  1 int  8 p def

Sensabaugh’s strength is in run support.  He’s not the greatest in coverage, but he did play with a broken thumb for a majority of the season.

 Others (Mike Hamlin, Akwasi Ansah-Owusu, Patrick Watkins)

 All three of the listed names above are in the mix to start at free safety.

 GRADE- 7.5

Special Teams

PK– David Buehler- DNP

The kicking game is a serious concern.  Buehler looks like the guy.  He has a strong leg, but he struggles with field goals that are 50+ yards.  He’s a good kickoff guy leading the NFL with 29 touchbacks.  If he wins the job, he’d save a roster spot.

 P- Mat McBriar- 72 punts  45.1 avg  38 in 20  63 lng

McBriar puts dents into footballs to go along with a great touch. 

KR- Felix Jones- 30 ret  22.6 avg  41 lg  0 td

Jones has home run ability with his tremendous speed.

PR- Dez Bryant- ROOKIE

Bryant showcased his punt returning skills at Oklahoma State.

 GRADE- 7

 2010 PREDICTION- 11-5

All Cowboy fans by now know where the Super Bowl is this year.  Dallas has all the talent and parts to become the 1st NFL team in history to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.  They’ll have to overcome a very difficult schedule, safety and kicking woes.

 Offensive MVP- Tony Romo

Defensive MVP- DeMarcus Ware

Breakthrough- Felix Jones

Overrated- Miles Austin

Underrated- Bradie James 

 

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