Projected Record: 8-8
NFC East Rank: 3rd
It looks like Tony Romo will be a Cowboy for the rest of his career. This offseason, Jerry Jones made a hefty investment in Romo when he inked a 6 year-$108 million extension. Although he has proven to be decent in the regular season, all NFL fans know about his habit of underachieving when the pressure is at its highest. Two years ago, the Cowboys had a shot against the Giants in Week 17. If they won, the G-Men would have been eliminated and the Cowboys would have clinched a spot in the postseason as the NFC East winner. Unfortunately for Romo, the Giants staged a comeback and won the game along with the division and eventually the Super Bowl. Last year, the same opportunity arose for Romo and his Cowboys. In Week 17, he played the Washington Redskins to clinch a spot as winners of the NFC East and play into the postseason. Yet, he failed to deliver again, throwing three interceptions and the last one coming on a potential game winning drive with three minutes left in the game.
Romo’s favorite target seems to be the young and explosive Dez Bryant. Bryant is one of the best receivers in the league from a physical standpoint. He has agility, large hands, and can outrun almost all cornerbacks in the league. If Bryant can keep himself out of trouble and focus on football, then he alongside Romo could make a formidable duo that would rank at the top of the NFC East. In terms of offensive output, the Cowboys also have a great RB in DeMarco Murray. Murray was injured for a good chunk of last season (6 games), but still managed to run for 663 yards. As a rookie in 2011, Murray ran for 897 yards and averaged 5.5 yards a carry. This also included a record-breaking performance, when he ran for 253 yards against the St. Louis Rams, which broke Emmit Smith’s Cowboy record for yards in a game (237) . If he can manage to maintain his health, then he can easily cross the 1,000 yard mark next season. This would be great help for Tony Romo who usually takes on the brunt of the offensive burden each season. The Cowboys passing attack ranked 3rd in the NFL but ranked 31st in the rushing game last season.
The Cowboys made a defensive coordinator adjustment when they decided to hire Monte Kiffin and fire Rob Ryan. Kiffin will be tweaking the defense a bit when he switches the formation from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Their secondary needs to get more takeaways this season, because they had a poor showing on that front last year. Although their coverage isn’t terrible, they ranked last in interceptions last year, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs. In order for them to stand a chance in their division against high-powered offenses such as the Redskins and Giants, their secondary needs to buckle up and focus on getting more takeaways to help the offense out. However, Dallas couldn’t do too much in regards to acquisitions this offseason since they were tied up against the salary cap.
The Cowboys must improve their division record, which stood at 2-4 last year, in order for them to have a shot at clinching a playoff berth. Ultimately though, the fate and future of the Dallas Cowboys rests in Tony Romo’s hands. The Cowboys have opportunities to make the postseason each year but can’t take advantage of them. Some credit has to go to Romo though, for even putting his team into those positions so late in the regular season. But in football, we remember and admire the people who prevail, not the people who get so close to victory and fail.