This is the second part of my series of the expectation list. Last time I talked about things I expected to happen or hoped would happen during the year. This is just my own list and is not as comprehensive or informed as Grizz and his evaluations. Just kinda of checking back on my own thoughts heading into the season. This is a little self-serving I admit and a wee bit boring. But it's helpful in my recovery process (god I hate the Giants) to flesh all of this out so I'm not a raging pile of narcissism when the season starts in August.
- Who in the heck is going to kick for us?
Last year, our kicking game was a nightmare. The popular saying is that if we had a decent kicker, we would have won 12 or so games the last few years. I certainly believed so. I liked Grammatica only because he was not Vanderjerk. But then he had a bad preseason and I got worried all over again. I heard good things about Nick Folk and I'd hoped he'd be the answer. But I thought the same thing about Pat Watkins. I figured we'd keep two kickers, but that Grammatica would be the one. He'd after all, made the biggest kick of last year, a huge win in the Meadowlands. I was pleasantly surprised we cut Grammatica and I had no idea Folk would have a Pro Bowl-type year.
- Major injuries?
I was certain a big name would be injured. Barber. Ware. Romo. Someone. For some reason, I thought it would be on the defensive side of the ball. First play, down goes Big Fergie. Man, I knew it. Terry Glenn. Greg Ellis is bitchin' and moanin'. Maybe he won't be back. Then a funny thing happened. That was it. Greg came back. So did Terry, although you can debate whether he was fully healthy or not. T.O. was hurt, but not severely. T-New and Henry got dinged up, but they played. It was a relatively-injury-free season, unlike what I expected. Seems like injuries always derail a special season, I fully expected to happen this year. This, again, would be hard to swallow when we lost in the playoffs. There certainly were no injury-related excuses we could point to.
- Are Wade and Jason Garrett ready?
I wanted Wade from the start. I was tired of seeing our defense being an contact-adverse spectator. I wanted the Wade 3-4. When when got him, I knew he'd succeed, but not to this degree. I was concerned about how he'd handle tough decisions -- 4th downs, close road games, struggles in the secondary, ego problems, disgruntled players, etc. I was sure he'd make our defense better, just not sure he had what it took to make the tough call. On every court, he exceeded my expectations. He wasn't afraid to go for it on 4th downs, he allowed Garrett to stay aggressive in road games versus Chicago, New York and Philly. He stayed supportive in the Greg Worry-a-thon. He seemed confident in Jacques Reeves, gambled by releasing Aaron Glenn and handled Roy's displeasure with the move. I was presently surprised.
I didn't know about Garrett. I know everybody liked him. Troy Aikman wanted to marry him, apparently, because he couldn't stop talking about him. But hiring him before Wade? Just seemed like a bad idea. This guy is barely older than my college professor. Are you sure? Boy was I wrong. He injected life into our offense. It was more than production. This offense has been productive before. He added an explosiveness we hadn't had before. He seemed to make sure to get everybody their numbers. He kept T.O. involved. Got Barber the ball. Turned Witten into an even more potent weapon. And put the ball into the hands of the golden boy -- T. Romo. I was very wrong about how important Garrett would be to our offense.
- There Something About Roy
I've always loved playmakers and Roy has consistently been one. Recently though he's made more plays for other teams than ours. The talk of the offseason was that he'd be closer to the line and we'd take advantage of his run stopping abilities. He helped put the kabosh on many running lanes and did a good job of that. Hamlin was supposed to free him up to not be in coverage so much. He was supposed to be free to make more big plays, negative plays and big hits. I expected three or four sacks and four or five INTs with 100 tackles. I figured if our defense was good enough, and our defense was good enough, he might get some consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. Well, yeah, not so much. He did snag a couple of INTs and made almost 100 tackles. But no sacks. Only a few negative plays. And virtually none of the terrorizing hits he used to lay on unsuspecting receivers and backs. Only bad pursuit lanes, which sometimes lead to long touchdowns (Ryan Grant and Amani Toomer). Again, I was wrong about Roy. Very wrong.