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Maybe we're not so bad after all?

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by Proximo, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. Proximo

    Proximo Well-Known Member

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    Came across this article by Dan Graziano about the Cowboys and thought it was worth a mention on here (I apologize if this was already posted). Some of this guy's work is decent, and some of it is meh, but I thought this article was pretty objective and not too far off the mark.

    Link:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/nfceast/post/_/id/49753/how-desperate-are-the-cowboys-really

    Excerpt:

    "Each of the past two seasons, they made it to the final game with a chance to win the division. By definition, that's a contending team, and as close to being a playoff team as one can get. They must improve in spots, most notably the offensive line, or it's going to be hard to believe they can make any big leap forward. But I don't agree with the perception that they're in big trouble because they were hamstrung this week in free agency. I think there are a lot of very good players on the Cowboys' roster who, if properly supported by a good draft and some smart free-agent bargain hunting, can make this a competitive team in 2013, just as it was in 2011 and 2012.

    I think that's worth keeping in mind, is all."
  2. Woods

    Woods Active Member

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    The key for us is to have a very good draft. We need to get at least 4 good contributors out of our 6 picks. Also, we need to probably land 1-2 UDFAs who can play some role.
  3. Teague31

    Teague31 Defender of the Star

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    If healthy, this team can contend. But it needs more talent to go all the way
  4. Proximo

    Proximo Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. And I think after seeing the last couple of drafts I feel okay with this. I personally am not overly concerned about the lack of activity in free agency so far. We need to build through the draft.
  5. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    If we were to flip the TO differential by, say, 15 TOs over the course of the year, this team would look completely different.

    Now, that's a ridiculously tall order, and some of the problem last year with TOs was personnel-related (Dez, Ogletree, Safeties). But it's the primary reason why we switched the defense (ie, it had nothing to do with scapegoating). Dez sorted his issues with sight adjustments from early in the season, and Harris and the other role players at WR picked up the slack and managed to mostly be where they're supposed to be.

    If we actually fix the protection problems, perhaps Romo doesn't make a couple extra bone-headed throws that he's making when he thinks he's got to pull a rabbit out of a hat, we've got a chance to be a much more competitive team. In that scenario, we'd honestly be able to compete with anybody in the NFC. The problem is, we've had the TO issues on offense forever; I'm not so sure they get fixed magically this season. Defensively, we've done what we had to do to make it possible. I just don't know if this group of defenders can deliver, or not. It's hard to put your finger on what the problem is, exactly.
  6. Oh_Canada

    Oh_Canada Well-Known Member

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    Injuries injuries injuries....avoid them to a reasonable degree and the Cowboys are a playoff team.

    Think how different the Pats offense was without Gronk.

    Or the 49ers defense was without Justin Smith.

    Both those teams remained pretty healthy for the better part of the year otherwise. Same goes for Atlanta, Seattle and Denver, by contrast the middle of Dallas' defense was decimated.

    The writer is correct, Cowboys are closer then people think but a good draft is absolutely imperative.
  7. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    SF was actually really fortunate this last season that they didn't have more key defensive injuries. If you look at the number of snaps their starters logged, it was amazing. I think it caught up with them a bit later in the year, though. They weren't as dominant up front as they were early in the year.

    I imagine they're going to invest heavily in players who can contribute defensively this offseason, and then make a point of working them into the roster so they don't burn through their starters at the rate they're burning them up right now.

    Either way, there's a reason why you see 3-4 new playoff teams in each conference every year. And there's a reason why the teams that improve the most aren't necessarily the teams that have the biggest VFA signings. It's draft, and player development, and health, and actual strength of schedule, and then the fact that the ball's made pointy for a reason.
  8. Woods

    Woods Active Member

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    I agree with you. It's just that because we're not going to do much in FA, it puts a heck of a lot of pressure to have a very good draft. Not that we can't do it, but every year is different. You need a bit of luck, too.

    I suppose that because this draft is deep at Safety, OL and DL that caters to us almost perfectly. We should do well.
  9. SilverStarCowboy

    SilverStarCowboy The Actualist

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    :banghead:

    Been down this road for two decades, need more to believe in than back to back 8-8s after this long of a haul.
  10. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    This team does a lot of player acquisition all through the year, too. We'll be one of the most active players in college FA after the draft again, and we'll be picking up veterans all through training camp and the regular season, too, if the last two years are any indication.

    We've got a couple holes in the starting lineup (not as many as people want to think). The real problem has been the depth with players from 25-50 or so on the roster in recent years. We churn the bottom three spots regularly, looking for ST help or to hit on players who can contribute regularly in that top-50 group.

    We've been top-heavy, and have had too few picks relatively to the rest of the league over the last 4-5 drafts that it's really hollowed out those roster spots that were supposed to be developing gradually into replacement starters to the vets we let walk.

    When you look at our starters, with a few notable exceptions at positions that are, relatively, easy to fill--we look like a team that can contend with anybody. Garrett's done way more than he gets credit for in building up the middle layer of the personnel on the roster. It was unfortunate, but the multiple sustained injuries last season and S, ILB, and C really kept the personnel improvement from showing up, because we were immediately in that same position of playing inadequate players in starting positions again.

    I know I'm relatively lonely in this regard, but I believe the draft, college FA, and using value picks in VFA to upgrade a few vets (Charlie Peprah, Kevin Ogletree, Brady Poppinga, for example), and we'll be able to upgrade another 5-6 position in that middle-25 group. That's going to give us a lot of insurance when it comes to injuries along the way that we just didn't have last year when we needed it.
  11. Woods

    Woods Active Member

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    Yes, I generally agree with you.

    In terms of holes on the team for starters, we're basically talking about FS (M Johnson may or may not pan out, though hopefully he does), one LB position (though between Wilbur and Albright we may be ok), and RT (unless the team is o.k. with Parnell starting).

    Also, I would like to upgrade RG.

    The rest of the positions we're talking about are rotational/depth guys for the most part.

    I'd include 2nd RB, Blocking TE, one more DT, one more DE, and 1 more LB as depth guys. Probably 1 more WR for depth purposes as well.

    So in total that is around 10 positions.

    That's why we need to hit on at least 4 guys in the Draft, 1-2 UDFAs, and pick up around 3 cheap vet options this off-season.

    It's doable.
  12. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    Wow. That's almost exactly how I see the needs, too. Both in terms of the starters and the backups. Add the right OL, and you can get a two-fer that might play two positions and just upgrade the weaker of our RG/RT candidates for a season.

    Most teams churn, what, 14-15 players on the roster each offseason? At least we're filling holes like OG and SLB and S (in a deep S draft) and not QB or DE or LT. And spots like RB2 and TE3 you can readily fill with street veterans or get lucky with college free agents if you're really fortunate.

    We've got personnel issues, but we're a lot better off than most teams in that regard. Our issues have more to do with coaching and, I know I keep saying this like a broken record, but, fixing the turnover differential problems that aren't directly personnel-related. Those are fairly big challenges in their own right, though.
  13. Reality

    Reality Administrator Staff Member

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    I think the misconception by the writer of the article is that simply almost making it to a playoff in a weak division is an example of "contending". A contending team is one that has a decent chance of winning the Super Bowl. Even if the Cowboys had gotten into the playoffs, I doubt very seriously they would have won the next week.

    The key fact that he and others in the media forget when they throw out the "had a chance in the last game" argument is that the division was weak. In most divisions, 9-7 would be second or third place at best.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not down on the Cowboys as I believe with the return of Lee, Carter and maybe Church, improvements in some weak positions like offensive and defensive lines and, most importantly, a new defensive scheme and coaching staff, this team has a chance to compete next season.

    That said, even if the Cowboys had gone 9-7 the last two years and made it to the playoffs, I think most fans' opinions, good or bad, would be about the same. Spoiled or not, but Cowboys fans and I am sure Jerry Jones as well expect better seasons than 9-7.

    /reality
  14. Doomsay

    Doomsay Well-Known Member

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    I think that this is a very important distinction.
  15. Hoofbite

    Hoofbite Well-Known Member

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    Well said.

    It's more a statement about how weak the NFCE was than it is about how close Dallas was.

    This is really no more valid than saying the 7-9 Rams from 2010 were "contending" when they lost the last game of the season to the 7-9 Seahawks with a playoff game on the line.

    Somebody has to win the division.
  16. Chocolate Lab

    Chocolate Lab Run-loving Dino

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    Exactly.

    In 2007 and 2008, 8-8 would have earned you... Last place in the division.

    And really, 8-8 in those years was a better record because your division opponents were much better.
  17. Vinnie2u

    Vinnie2u Well-Known Member

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    We're a average team..With luck we might make the playoffs.. Injuries and a tough schedule.. and we're not so good..
  18. DFWJC

    DFWJC Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    Have to upgrade the line play to even dream of saying the words contender and Cowboys in the same sentence...with a straight face.
    Sack totals are only part of it--Romo's mobility reduces those numbers! So that's misleading at time--you have to be effective running in the redzone and preferably otherwise as well.

    It IS doable.

    I do think the defense will be better for many reasons.

    Please, good grief, fix that Oline!
  19. Proximo

    Proximo Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the point of the article was to try and paint a picture of the Cowboys being contenders based on the fact that they almost made it to the playoffs. I think the writers intention was to try and put the state of the team into better perspective with some reasonable evaluation:

    "On the defensive side of the ball, DeMarcus Ware is an excellent player. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are very good. Linebacker Sean Lee is outstanding, and fellow linebacker Bruce Carter sure looked headed that way last season before his injury. Jason Hatcher was excellent last season, and so was Anthony Spencer, whether he's worth his $10.6 million franchise tender or not.

    On offense, the Cowboys have excellent players at quarterback, tight end and both starting wide receiver spots. They have a very good running back and left tackle. Can you find fault with any or all of these players? Sure. But on balance, I just gave you 14 starting positions at which the Cowboys are at least above average, and in several cases much better.

    The point? Well, as Cowboys fans bemoan the lack of cap space and resultant lack of activity in this first week of free agency, it might be worth remembering that there are some really good players on this team, and that it might not be the kind of team that needed to have a big first week of free agency.
    "

    I thought this part was well stated and I agree with pretty much all of it.
  20. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    Not sure I buy the argument that the NFCE is weak just because of the teams' collective records. The division does have a very recent Superbowl.

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