The Dallas Cowboys are firm believers they are still America’s team and as my Ladybug put it “I live in Philly, but I rep the Star”. 2015 was easily not one of their brightest moments as injuries piled on and “next up” players were not able to produce as expected. Tony Romo’s injury was the nail in the coffin as the Cowboys went from division favorites to watching the hated Washington Redskins win the NFC East. All seems well in the Big D now with Romo and Bryant healed but the suspension of Demarcus Lawrence looms over the defense. Darren McFadden finally realized he was an NFL player but the Cowboys saw a chance to grab possibly the RB of the future in Ezekiel Elliott and jumped on it.
This is a make or break year for many on the roster as most will be on a production watch while others are getting up there in age. The Cowboys must start looking for a QB to replace Romo ASAP, after last year they can no longer go by committee. Jason Garrett gets another shot to reach the big game, the division gets a chance to see the new look Cowboys at full strength and you the fans get to read what my 5 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Storylines are.
How Much Trust Can They Put In Tony Romo?
At some point the Cowboys must say, enough is enough and begin to look towards the future. Romo is a great QB but he is 35 years old. Last season and mostly through the last two, he has suffered major injuries, but the Cowboys have continued to ignore the writing on the wall, then throw tantrums when their season goes down the tube due to health issues. Last year Romo played 9 games before going down for the year and the Cowboys never recovered, finishing 4-12 and watching what should-be a NFC East coronation turn into a “what do we do now” season. Romo says he is healthy but what happens when he takes a helmet to the back, or gets piled on by two or three, 300lb linemen? The Cowboys went with a QB by committee last year and yielded results of 16 TDs and 22 INTs. I understand Romo is still their leader but putting their faith in a QB that is a hit away from IR may not be the best bet. No trade was made for a true veteran, I, like the rest of Cowboys Nation will be holing my breathe every time he drops back.
Thank You Darren McFadden But Ezekiel Is Now The Man
McFadden sort of revived his career last season with the Cowboys when he rushed for 1000+ yards, instead of giving him the role outright for a job well done job they basically shelved him for a rookie. Elliott is not your average rookie, he might be a franchise changer, much like McFadden was when he came out of college. The Cowboys took a gamble on the Ohio State star with the 4th overall pick when there may have been better options on defense or a QB of the future, but what he can provide the team should not be overlooked. McFadden offered stability after they lost DeMarco Murray to free agency, Elliott is in excellent position to become this generation’s Emmitt Smith. The O-Line is arguably the league’s best and should the rookie runner get 200+ rushes this season we may very well see that the Cowboys were right in drafting the kid so high.
Is This Jason Witten’s Last Hurrah?
Witten is the ultimate professional, the player that will take you under his wing, teach you how to handle life in the NFL and how to succeed at this level. Throughout his career he has been one of the best TEs in the game, not just on the receiving end where so many of today’s TEs only seem concerned with. Witten is a throwback, a player that gives 100 percent each snap, whether the ball is going to him or not. Let’s not forget that he is part of that awesome O-Line the Cowboys have, one of the reasons Murray and McFadden were able to produce like they did. Age has caught up with Witten but it hasn’t stopped whoever has been under Center to look for Mr. Reliable. His yards may have taken a hit but his targets have not. Last season Whitten was targeted 104 times, catching 77 for 713 yards and 3 TDs. At the age of 33 how many more seasons can Witten continue to go across the middle and provide a security blanket for Romo? As the offense has improved his stock has dipped a little but his importance to the team couldn’t be higher. I hope he has another productive season left in him as he is the blueprint on how to be a professional.
Can We Expect Production Opposite Dez Bryant?
Last season the Cowboys felt what life would be like without Bryant and it was not pleasant. The Romo injury was a big issue but with Romo out and Bryant able to play, he and whoever was under Center could not find a connection. In 9 games Bryant caught 31 passes for 401 yards and 3 TDs. As you can see, he was not tearing the league up with his normal production when healthy. During his injury was an opportunity for another to emerge. This was the Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley audition. Neither player was able to take full advantage but proved that going into 2016 it proved that Bryant may have some help on the opposite side. Williams and Beasley both have the speed to stretch the field but a possession receiver is needed most. Beasley caught 52 passes for 536 yards in 2015 compared to William’s 52 catches for 840 yards. Williams may prove to be the best option as he started 10 more games than Beasley but the Cowboys seem content with going with a 3 WR look in 2016 which could spell trouble for the rest of the division. With Bryant healthy and both Beasley and Williams confident that can produce, Romo will have plenty options this year.
Who Will Fill The Void Left By The 4-Game Suspension of Demarcus Lawrence?
Mistakes happen, all you can do you is accept responsibility and hopefully grow from it. The Cowboys were possibly looking at the future of their defense in Lawrence but will be forced to look elsewhere for the first 4 games of 2016. Who will step up in his place is a big question for the Cowboys heading into camp. With Greg Hardy floating in the wind the pressure to up their performance falls on the pads of Jack Crawford. Crawford finished 2015 with only 1 start to him name but in spot duty you sometimes saw a motor that wouldn’t shut off. It’s not set in stone if he will become the starter, but either way he must produce. The Cowboys are hoping his 4 sacks last season were signs of things to come.