News: ESPN: Cowboys Offseason Breakdown

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by Hostile, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    By Kieran Darcy

    2003 RECORD: 10-6
    TEAM RANK (NFL): Defense (1st); Offense (15th)
    Free agents -- DE Marcellus Wiley (Chargers), QB Vinny Testaverde (Jets), WR Dedric Ward (Patriots).
    Acquired by trade: QB Drew Henson (Texans), WR Keyshawn Johnson (Bucs).
    Draft picks -- 2a. RB Julius Jones (Notre Dame), 2b. OT Jacob Rogers (USC), 3. OG Stephen Peterman (LSU), 4. CB Bruce Thornton (Georgia), 5. TE Sean Ryan (Boston College), 7a. CB Nathan Jones (Rutgers), 7b. WR Patrick Crayton (NW Oklahoma St.), 7c. CB Jacques Reeves (Purdue).
    OL Ryan Young (released), P Toby Gowin (Jets), DE Ebenezer Ekuban (Browns), CB Mario Edwards (Bucs), RB Troy Hambrick (Raiders), WR Joey Galloway (Bucs).
    Team news | Roster | More on Cowboys draft

    Wed., June 30
    Will the additions at QB and RB make them any better this season?
    One way or another, either by winning the starting job himself or by pushing Quincy Carter to upgrade his game, the bet here is that Vinny Testaverde will have a positive influence on the Cowboys in '04. Some observers feel Bill Parcells brought Testaverde in to start, but we don't think there's a preconceived strategy, at least beyond the obvious. And the obvious is that Parcells loves competition and will start the quarterback who best handles the team in camp and the preseason. The addition of Drew Henson is a long-term proposition and, after such a long stretch away from the game, this season probably will be a year when Dallas allows the former Michigan star to just regain his football bearings. The situation at tailback is a bit more dicey, with Parcells and the Cowboys counting heavily on second-round pick Julius Jones, who wasn't always a consistent performer at Notre Dame. Unlike a lot of critics, we don't feel Parcells erred in trading down out of the first round, and bypassing either Steven Jackson or Kevin Jones. But he'd better be right in his assessment, because Dallas certainly needs to run the ball better than it did in 2003. There is no experience backing up Jones, except for fullback Richie Anderson, who will move to tailback in one-back sets and on third down. So don't be surprised if, sometime during camp, the Cowboys sign one of the veteran backs still trying to land a job. The history of Parcells is that the previous three teams he coached improved an average of eight games in his first two seasons. That could be a difficult track record to repeat for a fourth time. After all, the Cowboys doubled their victory total in '03, from five wins to 10 victories. To match the Parcells two-year standard of the past, Dallas would have to win 13 games, and that's probably a reach. Bottom line: Testaverde will help but the backfield situation remains somewhat dubious.

    What they've added?
    Bill Parcells, going into his second season with Dallas, continues to reshape the Cowboys roster. In particular, he's added a couple of quarterbacks to the mix.

    Dallas traded for Drew Henson, who was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2003. Henson finally gave up on his major league baseball ambitions and will likely be the Cowboys quarterback of the future. But even though he'll sit the bench as an understudy this season, incumbent starter Quincy Carter may lose his job anyway. Parcells also brought in Vinny Testaverde and Parcells seems to think the 40 year old has something left in the tank.

    In addition to the acquisitions at quarterback, the Cowboys also made a big change in the receiving corps. Another former Jet, Keyshawn Johnson, wore out his welcome in Tampa Bay last season, but could flourish once again under Parcells. And the offense will also feature a new starting tailback, Julius Jones, who the Cowboys drafted in the second round out of Notre Dame.

    On defense, the one big-name veteran the Cowboys picked up was defensive end Marcellus Wiley, formerly of the Chargers. Wiley combined for 23½ sacks in 2000 and 2001, but had just nine the previous two campaigns. The Cowboys hope he'll make more of an impact this coming year.

    In the draft, besides Jones, the Cowboys also picked up a couple of offensive linemen that could see some playing time over the course of 2004: Jacob Rogers (USC, second round) and Stephen Peterman (LSU, third round). And fourth-round pick Bruce Thornton, a cornerback from Georgia, could figure in the secondary mix as well.

    What they're missing?
    Parcells jettisoned a few players from last year's team, among the most notable was running back Troy Hambrick. The former backup was supposed to lead the way once future Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith headed to Arizona, but Hambrick was a disappointment. In the draft, Dallas passed on a chance to select Steven Jackson and chose Jones instead, a curious move by many. If Jones fails to meet high expectations, the Cowboys will again become highly dependent on the passing attack.

    On defense, starting cornerback Mario Edwards is now with Tampa Bay. Pete Hunter, who played in the nickel last year, will be his likely replacement -- but the third-year player still has a lot to prove. Though the secondary is considered a strength, the unit is still hurt by the team's lack of a pass rush. Dallas had just 32 sacks (tied for 21st) last year and the team is counting on increased production from Wiley.

    In a recent mock draft in ESPN Fantasy Games, Cowboys rookie RB Julius Jones was selected in the fourth round, 44th overall, and reaction from others in the league was very strange. A few people scoffed at the pick. Others thought it was a steal. Such it is with a rookie likely being handed a starting role. We think Jones is worth a fourth-round pick -- we rank him 20th among RBs -- but make sure he's not your No. 2 back, just in case things don't work out.
    -- Eric Karabell, senior editor

    On special teams, the Cowboys lost veteran punter Toby Gowin, who signed with Parcells' former team, the Jets. The Cowboys will need to replace him.

    What it all means?
    The Cowboys were a big surprise in 2003, finishing 10-6 and qualifying for the playoffs. But they won't sneak up on people this year, particularly in a much-improved NFC East.

    Yes, Parcells is continuing to build this team the way he wants to. But it's still going to take time, and the Cowboys will have a lot more pressure on them this year. Their offense, which averaged only 18.1 points per game last year (last among the league's 12 playoff teams), needs to put more points on the board. Whoever starts at quarterback, Carter or Testaverde, needs to take better advantage of their three very capable wide receivers (Johnson, Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant). Jones, the rookie, will be counted on to carry the load in the running game. And Dallas will still need their defense to stifle opponents like they did a year ago.

    The Cowboys face a big challenge to match last season's success, particularly facing a tougher schedule. But never underestimate a Bill Parcells-coached team.

    Kieran Darcy writes for ESPN The Magazine and
  2. blindzebra

    blindzebra Well-Known Member

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    Other then the schedule statement I think that is a pretty fair over view.
  3. Nav22

    Nav22 Well-Known Member

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    So last year...we have one of the toughest schedules on paper, and all we hear in the media is "they might get better, but still go 5-11."

    This year...we have THE EASIEST schedule on paper, but since it would be sacreligious for the East coast mediots to really give us our fair share of credit, they use the ol' schedule excuse again to try and indirectly write us off.

    I love it.
  4. TheKey

    TheKey Faster than Felix

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    See my, "ESPN Ticks me off" thread at the bottom of the page.
  5. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I agree. I think that was a fair assesment of the team. As for the schedule goes it does appear to be a tough schedule based on how those teams did last year but in todays football teams go from the top of the heap to the bottom in a hurry so it is hard to say how this schedule will play out
  6. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    I agree with everyone else. Until the end, everything was cool. Then with a single stupid line about the schedule wrecked the entire article.

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