Can the Cowboys advance past the playoffs this year?
Ah yes, do you smell that? That, sports fans, is the smell of the 2012 NFL regular season. All of the appetizers and overpriced samples also known as preseason games are dreadfully behind and now we can look forward to a 17 week buffet of big hits, close misses, ups,downs, ifs and maybes.
On a day when all 32 NFL teams(and their fans) proclaim 'this is our year', realistically, despite the undeniable parity of the league (and sparkling 0-0 records), there are still a handful of teams that have no chance. The offseason training camps, OTAs coupled with the draft and free agent movements produce paper champions every year. This season will be no different. Perennial free agency beasts like the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders go out and sign players in decline and are primed for what they believe to be long deep playoff runs ending with that trophy bearing the name of Vince Lombardi.
I have been there, excited, anticipating greatness, oblivious to reality from being way too close to the situation. Fortunately, there is a very large...almost unaware, seemingly entitled group of fanatics that we all are familiar....though some may be in denial of my accuracy:
Happy 2012 Dallas Cowboy fans!
(Editor's Note: This story was submitted prior to Dallas' season-opening win over the New York Giants.)
Just merely hours remain before you kick off the glorious football season against the defending Super Bowl 'chumpion' New York Midgets and I know anticipation is at a fevered pitch. Another season, sure to not be for the faint of heart, is upon us and Cowboy fans the world over are believing this will be their year to lay hold on ring #6. Is this just an extension or continuation of the futility of the last 15 years or will this season end in exuberation, relief and the end of Jerry Jones window talk? While no one knows for fact how it all will shape up come February, one thing is for sure: being a Cowboy fan will definitely be great for your heart....but I wouldn't try it at home. I'll give you atleast nine reasons why...
9. Tony Romo-Athletic, courageous, heck of a golfer, top 10 QB BUT ...A year after leading the Cowboys to the most productive offensive seasons in franchise history, being a no-show in the playoffs was the more lingerin' thought. Although Troy Aikman himself declares the ringless Romo as being better than him, he proved that you didn't have to be a stat compiler; you just gotta win championships, not just player of the week awards. It don't mean a thing if you don't get that bling.
8. Rob Ryan-Fiery son of a...Football Coach named Buddy, brilliant defensive mind?...Maybe just maybe this year the Robik's(rubik's cube reference) cube of a scheme that Rob built in his Ryan head will be figured out by the bolstered, renovated defense. His sophisticated suffocating defense gave up 30-plus points in games against the Giants last year and made all offseason renovations because of those defeats. Now let's see. Speaking of additions and renovations...
7. Maurice Claiborne and Brandon Carr- No more T-New?!! Always excited to get to open new toys huh?! Wellllll... IF Mo' Claiborne, whom Jerry so subtily secured with the 6th pick in this year's draft, and Mr. Carr are worth the efforts to get them, it could be an extended celebration.... Hold on...Honestly, how many of you dastardly Dallas Cowboy fans even knew who Brandon Carr was before he got here?? Yea right, lmbo! At any rate, like you, I'll be interested to see if it was money well spent or well, just spent money.
6. D-Line- How does a defense with Demarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff still not consistently apply hellish pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Good thing the young linebackers are looking good. It doesn't help that Ratliff won't play to start the season tonight. Just hope that the closest these guys get to Eli is not just pre and postgame... Upside.. You do still have Ware. With the kind of pressure they can produce this season it can make for long boring days for the high dollar secondary. Oh, what a problem to have. Kind of a chicken or the egg kinda thing though: Will the defensive line be better because of the improved secondary or does the improved secondary make them better?
5. O-Line- Tyron Smith is now your 'blind side' protector for Romo. Do with that what you will but it's a reason Romo is always making the play on the run with his Brett Favreian release and sometimesy accuracy. Outside of Smith, this line is a definite concern. Much is expected with a healthy DeMarco Murray who only had 5 carries in the two Giant defeats last season. Time is money... If they don't get Romo some time, the Extreme Makeover:Cowboys Edition type spending this summer was for nothing.
4. Depth- In an increasingly intense sport like the NFL, that's physically exacting week after week, one thing that can't be underestimated or overlooked is the need to have experienced dependable backups. This is both a strength and a weakness for the 'Boys. For example, the depth at quarterback with both Romo and a legitimate and potential fill-in Kyle Orton may be comforting but what happens when Miles Austin's hamstring wants to make headlines. Where do you go after Dez Bryant(who may also wanna make off the field headlines)? I really was pulling for my boy Radway but he'll land on his feet elsewhere. Anyway, point is: injuries will decimate any team but when you already struggle with depth issues because of quality, you don't want it worsened by the decrease in quantity.
3. Dez Bryant- Undeniably, unmistakeably talented athlete. Pro Bowl type season expected... When on his game and on the field, he's a highlight reel waiting to happen..BUT... Off the field, mainly lowlights and jaws drop then because we can't believe what's reported to have happened. At 23, clearly his maturity off the field leaves much to be desired but 90 catches, 1200 yards, and 11 touchdowns on the field will be the only maturity Cowboy fans will really care about.
2. Jason Garrett- Princeton Alum, son of coach, former Cowboy and Giant quarterback. Known for being smart schematically, his best and smartest move may have been bringing in Bill Callahan to help coordinate his offense. After freezing his own kicker and other un-Princeton-like acts in his first season and a half as the Cowboy's 8th head coach, many claim he 'has left his stamp' on Arlington's team. He improved his win total by 3 games last season, 3 more this season could mean an NFC East crown. The credibility of his 'stamp', the 'Red J' brand will be tested early(tonight against the Giants) and often with games against the Jay Cutler led Chicago Bears and traveling to meet a bruising Baltimore Raven team.
1. Jerry Jones-What list involving the Dallas Cowboys ever failed to include one Jerry Wayne Jones? When this ever-present President, Owner and General Manager is not talking about 'glory holin', booking rodeos, concerts, and shuttle landings for Jerry World, he is looking for closing windows. He is unrelenting in wanting to bring another Super Bowl to big D and clearly feels awakening America's team from it's 'one playoff win in 15 year nightmare' is still a one man job and he will ring the alarm. His declaration of being ready to do something to some Giants' bottom is definitely concerning though. (lol)
Well tonight, along with Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboy fans the world over will get to see the first steps(or crawls) toward Lombardi trophy number 6 with eyes pieled, hearts racing, and faces shining. It's a LONG season. Pace yourselves. Believe it or not, there will still be 15 games left after tonight, win or lose I promise. There is no better way of getting the season started than going against the team responsible for ended your's.
If history is any teacher (and it is), this season will be filled with many ups, downs, and neverending Monday morning quarterbacking and second and third guessing. Among my family and friends and even Ben and Skin, I'll hear and observe the heart pumpin', soul wrenchin' rollercoaster ride that is being a Dallas Cowboy fan and how great it is. Sure.
I believe you.
I just won't be tryin' that at home.
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