By Jeff Seiler
Webster’s Dictionary – Mediocre: of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance; ordinary, so-so
I’m a suffering Cowboys fan. It’s been an entirely too long era of mediocrity. They are the very definition of average. Two straight 8-8 seasons, 128-128 in their last 16 seasons. In that time, the Boys have gone 1-6 in the playoffs, and also had 6 losing seasons.
It’s obvious that this team needs help. It’s in continual disarray and gets far too much pub for its performance on the field. Let’s look at a position by position outlook of this team.
Love him or Loathe him, Jerry Jones is the Owner and General Manager. He’s paid enough money to earn that right, like it or not. He will always be in that position and he’s not firing himself. That’s just the reality of it. He’s a redneck Al Davis. Let’s move on from this subject because it really doesn’t warrant debating.
The Cowboys are roughly $20 million over the salary cap as it stands. They have to get down to an estimated $121 million by March 12th. Cut candidates include WR Miles Austin, OT Doug Free, FB Lawrence Vickers, DT Jay Ratliff, LB Dan Conner, and S Gerald Sensabaugh. Players whose contracts need to get restructured are QB Tony Romo, TE Jason Witten, and CB Brandon Carr.
There is a long list of needs the Cowboys have for both 2013 and beyond. On offense they include: backup quarterback, backup running back, possible fullback, slot receiver (for some reason these all seem to be white), backup tight end, and 2-3 offensive linemen. On defense the Cowboys are switching from the 3-4 defense back to a 4-3 under Monte Kiffin and employing the Tampa 2 defense. You can look at defensive line, linebacker, and safety as areas of need. Luckily, like the offense, it could be mostly backups and depth, something the Cowboys severing lacked in 2012.
This could be a blog post on its own, the saga of Tony Romo and the future of the QB position of the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo will be back next year at a friendlier cap hit. I’m not a Romo-sexual but there’s not a better option right now. I do believe that this is the year, with Romo 32 years old, that you have to draft a QB in hopes of developing him. If I am Jerry Jones I take a mid round flyer on EJ Manuel or Zac Dysert in the draft.
I don’t really see this as a need for 2013 even though the Cowboys rushed for their fewest yards in a season in team history. I like what a healthy Demarco Murray, Phillip Tanner, and Lance Dunbar bring to the table. Felix Jones is more than likely gone as an unrestricted free agent.
Dez Bryant, for all the trouble he has off the field, had a very productive 2012 football season with 92 receptions, almost 1,400 yards and 12 TDs. And thus far this off season, we haven’t heard from him. Miles Austin’s productivity really took a hit last year but still almost hit 1,000 yards and should be back with a restructured deal. I’d love for the Cowboys to follow the Wayne Crebret, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola footsteps and find a slot receiver (again, why are they all white?) to take some pressure off Bryant and Jason Witten.
Witten is every bit as good as he was 5 years ago and his backups fit that role perfectly, let’s move on.
This is the sore spot of the Cowboys. Injuries and poor performance have plagued this team for years now and is the reason the running game was so bad and you always see Romo running for his life. I’d devote a first round pick and two additional picks just to this position, while also signing a free agent here.
The Cowboys actually set up pretty well for a move to the 4-3 defense. Ware just takes a hand down to move to defensive end and Ratliff and Lissemore line up inside at the tackle spots. The other end spot won’t go to Spencer as he will command more money in free agency than the Cowboys could give him. Victor Butler, Tyrone Crawford, and Jason Hatcher will all battle for playing time.
Sean Lee and Bruce Carter will return from injuries to form a very solid linebacking core, where the Cowboys could use a second or third round pick on an outside linebacker for the 4-3.
Carr and Claiborne lead the corners with Scandrick coming back. Mike Jenkins is an unrestricted free agent and wants a starting job. I don’t see Sensabaugh back, so Church and McCray could be the leading candidates for starting jobs.
I see the Cowboys as a very similar team to that we’ve seen the last few years, horribly inconsistent. This team has a lot of talent at its starting positions, outside of offensive line. The main problem is depth. When a player comes out, or worse, gets injured, the backups aren’t in a position to succeed. Brian Schaffering, Alex Albright, Rob Callaway, Kyle Wilbur, Brady Poppinga, Michael Coe, Sterling Moore, Charlie Peprah and Eric Frampton. These are all names of guys who played way too much for the Cowboys last year and that’s just for the defense. Sadly, none were on the roster when the season began.
It’s going to be a tough season for the Boys. They won’t be players in free agency because they have too much money tied up in other contracts. I see them lucky to get back to 8-8 in 2013 and a playoff spot too far away.
By Jeff Seiler