From the second the referee came from underneath the hood to reverse the Dez Bryant catch every Cowboy fan and front running groupie who decided to be a fan about 3-6 weeks ago has been outraged. We can make arguments on both sides but we all can agree that the NFL has a rule that may need to be looked into. As many of the band wagoners head off to find a spot on their new teams wagon the real fans should sit back and salute a great year from Jerry, Jason and their Dallas Cowboys.
It’s been a long road back to respectability for what once was America’s team. In a new age NFL where success can be here today and gone tomorrow and divisions flip upside down from one year to the next, your team has built what could and should be a contender for the next 3-5 years which is like a decade in football years.
Look at your roster, for years it has in most cases started and ended with the man everyone loves to hate Tony “insert whatever immature 12 year old joke” Romo. He has been the ultimate gift and curse QB and many have blamed him for the team being average and becoming the butt of all types of playoff jokes. Let me tell you what I blame him for (it’s a long list) : I blame him for carrying a franchise/ fan base that has been anything but Romo- friendly ( Jerrys term not mine), surrounding him with very little talent, no protection, bad defenses, revolving doors as coordinators, no running game, and divas at receiver. Faced with that Tony has screwed us by winning twice as many games as the teams talent would indicate, playing through injuries you would go on leave from your desk job from, and making some of the most ridiculous plays we have ever seen (to be fair both good & bad). Tricking the Joneses into believing that the team was only a few players away. (try 8 on offense and 10 on defense) Also his leading this 4-12 roster to repeated 8-8 seasons which has kept the Cowboys just far enough away from being able to draft the elite franchise changing talent that they desperately have needed. Statistically Romo has been one of the leagues best over the last decade. Finally this season with much needed help, he had an MVP type season and led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record, division title, and the 2nd round of the playoffs. So please show this man some respect.
Moving on, Jerry Jones the GM has faced his fair share of criticism (deservedly so) but the selections 3 out of the last 4 years of OT Tyron Smith, C Travis Frederick, and G Zack Martin have given this team the NFL’s best offensive line, add that to veteran TE Jason Witten, Tony Romo’s security blanket, and it gave the Cowboys offensive balance that they haven’t had since the “Triplets” were collecting Super Bowl rings in the 1990’s. Speaking of which, this years version of the triplets wasn’t too shabby either. Free Agent RB DeMarco Murray, who has always been talented but unable to avoid the injury bug, put it all together and broke Emmitt Smith’s single season team rushing record. He was the ultimate workhorse, physical with great vision and the toughness to fight for extra yards. He also excelled in the passing game, not only as a receiver but as a blocker. Murray had a big fumble in Sunday’s loss but otherwise he was his usual dominant self. The third member of this group is Dez Bryant. The Cowboys season all but ended when the referee ruled that during Bryant’s dive or fall towards the endzone he didn’t complete what would have been a ridiculous catch. This next comment may be hard to understand but ” the reason why that Dez Bryant play was not a catch is the reason why he is the best Wide Receiver in the NFL”. You couldn’t help but feel for him as he looked on in disbelief as his potential game changing play was taken away. There are maybe 5 people in the world that could do what he did so how would a 70 year old man be able to decipher what just happened but I digress. Dez had a great season as he led the NFL in TD receptions. Unfortunately for the Cowboys he is also a free agent who will command an astronomical amount of money in the offseason.
Onto the defense. Before the season the question was what do you get when you take away the 2 best players (DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher) from one of the worst defenses ever? Then add in losing the returning best player (LB Sean Lee) on the D to an injury in minicamp. My guess preseason was “Complete Disaster” and one of the worst defenses ever by a long shot. Boy was I wrong! That’s why I don’t gamble. The promotion of Rod Marinelli to Defensive Coordinator, the addition of Rolando McClain, an enforcer at MLB, in addition to a bunch of young and hungry defenders led to a major improvement from dead last to middle of the pack defensively, along with a major jump in forced turnovers. The Cowboys defense competed hard and played disciplined football all season but it’s overall lack of top end talent ended up hurting them in Sunday’s loss to the Packers. Going into next season the Cowboys do have some strong building blocks in CB Orlando Scandrick who has become a top 10 cornerback, safety Barry Church who is solid in coverage and is a tackling machine, a defensive line that should be anchored moving forward by talented young players DE Demarcus Lawrence and DT Tyrone Crawford, the strength of the Defense moving forward is a deep Linebacking core, which will be bolstered by the return of often injured pro bowler, LB Sean Lee. The unit played a lot of quality players but the additions of a few difference makers could make them elite, the return of Lee will definitely help.
Moving forward the Cowboys face tough decisions on who to keep and who to let walk away in free agency, but that’s a discussion for another day. Jerry and Stephen Jones have done a good job turning this franchise around and setting things up for a successful future. Things are looking up in “Big D”. If they can remain patient ( which is a big if for Jerry Jones) and stay the course, a return to greatness could be on the horizon.
Long suffering “Real” Cowboy fans appreciate the effort your team gave you and the heart they showed and R-E-L-A-X ( sorry too soon) cause this could be the calm before the storm as your Cowboys reclaim their spot at the top of the NFL as “Americas Team”. Despite what all of the naysayers (your Stephen A. Smith ‘s of the world) say, these are not the same old Cowboys. I can almost hear Jimmy Johnson’s voice saying “How bout them Cowboys!!! Next season can’t come soon enough.
BTW could you imagine if Jerry picked Johnny Football OMG!!!
Contact me on Twitter @SportsRuckus and let me know what you think.
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