State of the Offense:
The quality on the Dallas Cowboys offense this year is overwhelming…on paper. The unit actually enters the season with a myriad of issues however. Quarterback Tony Romo has two quality tackles watching his back, but the interior of his offensive line has been revamped through free agency and through injury entering the season. DeMarco Murray looks set to be a superstar runner, but he needs to prove his durability after a very short rookie season. Nobody has ever questioned Jason Witten’s durability, but he too enters the season injured with a spleen issue. Miles Austin missed much of the preseason, while Dez Bryant has been enveloped in some controversy regarding the Cowboys’ handling of the young receiver.
State of the Defense:
Maybe for the first time in a long time, the Cowboys’ defense could establish a clear gap between them and their counterparts on offense. The Cowboys fixed their biggest problem last year, coverage, by investing in Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. Carr and Claiborne should start at cornerback while Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins enter the season as excellent depth options. Improved play in the secondary will give DeMarcus Ware and company more time to chase down the quarterback upfront.
Presuming that the personnel will all be somewhat healthy, the Cowboys’ combination of offensive firepower as a rushing and passing attack is phenomenal. Murray in the backfield could eclipse 2,000 yards combined. Bryant, for all of his off-the-field issues, is a superstar talent who can beat any cornerback. Witten remains an elite all-around tight end, while Miles Austin can be a possession receiver or a game-breaker if required.
It’s difficult to determine whether the Cowboys’ biggest problems come on the interior of the offensive line or the secondary. In recent years safety has been a problem spot for the Cowboys, but the addition of two quality cornerbacks could make that a non-issue. On the interior of the line, free agents Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings should improve the area if healthy. Without seeing those two on the field with Phil Costa, it’s very difficult to determine what kind of quality they will show during the regular season.
Romo will of course be under huge pressure again this year, but that is nothing new. An interesting player to highlight will be outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. Spencer received the franchise tag during the off-season despite never truly living up to his promise. Playing across from DeMarcus Ware means offensive lines won’t ever shift to his side, while the improved coverage should give him more time to get to the quarterback. All that could equate to 10 or more sacks. With that kind of production, it’ll be almost impossible to pass against the Cowboys.
Cian Fahey writes for Irishcentral and the Guardian. You can follow him on twitter @Cianaf