In the interests of taking a less negative look at the state of the team I love, I thought I'd try and go a little more in depth than the typical, "Romo sucks, Wade sucks, Garrett sucks," comments that have been raining down like a biblical flood upon the blog. This is my first shot at a fanpost, so be gentle...lol. Just looking at the injuries and offense on this pass, I'll take a shot at D & ST'slater on. So here we go...
Well, they hit us hard this season, worse than any season in recent memory. Let's tally up the walking wounded for the year shall we?
Kosier, Holland, Flo, Felix, MBIII, Romo, Witten, Austin, Thong, Watkins, Bullets, Ware, Barbie, Newman, Henry, Jenkins, Hamlin,Mcbriar + Pacrat's "injury" (its mental and terminal apparently)
Yes I know, many of these guys continued to play or only missed a little time, but that's a laundry list of injuries for one season, especially when some of these guys were injuried multiple times. Think there's a chance any of these hurt Dallas' production? Not an excuse, but it has to be brought up in any discussion of where our season went wrong. Let's say Romo doesn't get hurt, think we might have
had a better chance of beating at least St. Louis? What if we didn't lose Felix? Or Kosier for that matter? If I told you before the season, that all these guys were going to get hurt at some point in the year, and we would still go 9-7...would you have believed it? Don't think I would've. Not much that can be fixed here in regards to next year, but staying healthy would be a big help, agreed?
So with the injury mess out of the way, lets look at some things that can improve.
I'm going to start on offense, as we saw the biggest drop off from last year here.
As we know everything starts with the lines, so lets begin there.
You are only as strong as your weakest link. Nowhere is this more true than on the offensive line, whichwas offensive (pun very much intended) to say the least this season. I think its safe to say we all knowwho the weak link was on the line, Cory Proctor come on down! In the few games that Kosier and/or Holland
played this season, the line looked much better, the running game had more holes to work with and Romo had more time in the passing game. This is not to say that the rest of the line played stellar ball this year, because they all had their moments of stupidity, however, having the line healthy and complete will be
a step in the right direction. Flozell's injury midseason, affected his effectiveness, especially against speedier rushers. The play of the O-line will decide the fate of the offense next season more thananything else. (well that and play calling, but we'll get to that later) Assuming that the line will be healthyto start the year, this falls on you Huson Houck, we've seen what your lines in the 90's were capable of,
the current group needs to resemble them at least a little. We've all seen what these guys can do. The '07 season showed us they can dominate a defense in both the run and pass game. A return to that form, and consistant performance throughout the season will yield good results. Another year of leaking like a sieve,
letting RB's get hit behind the line, and leaving your QB to fend for himself...well, we know what comes next.This should be a major target in the draft, as the depth in not good. Holland looks like a solid backup for the starting guards, but there is no depth at center or at tackle. Had either Flozel or Columbo gone down
this season Romo might not have survived. This needs to be addressed asap.
There have been some suggesting the trade of MBIII on the blog, in my opinion a huge mistake. Why would you tryto get rid of one the hardest working players on a somewhat dysfunctional team? Especially, when this should be one of positions of strength on the offense? This is shaping up to be a very special group of runners, and inmy opinion, should be the focus of the offense next season. (I'll expand on this later) If the O-line can do their job, the trio of MBIII,Felix & Choice will rival any running attack in the league. All 3 of these backs are very good both running and receiving and any chance to get more than 1 of them on the field at the same time
will make any defenses' job difficult. Use Barber & Felix early in games to wear down a D and put points on the board, and Barber and Choice to close out games at the end, or any other combo you can think of. The priority for next season should be to focus on making this a very potent and constant running attack. This will help Romo immeasurably. No draft needs here.
This is another position of strength for this team. Not much to be said here. And not much to improve. Jason Witten is as good as they get. Excellent blocker, excellent receiver, the best TE in football. Martellus Bennett has shown his value already in his rookie campaign and should only improve with more experience. This is the
scariest 1-2 punch any team in the league has at TE. Curtis is solid if not spectacular and provides a solid back up. No draft needs here.
Another position where a lot of people are stressing addition by subtraction that I don't buy into. Yes we all know about TO and his "quirks". However, he put up solid numbers again this season, and should for another couple years. He will be staying, whether you like it or not. Deep down everyone knows this. There are 2 main priorities in my mind for the offseason here. #1 get RW11 fully integrated into the offense. If we can get him producing at a high level TO will be far more dangerous and we should see a return of the big plays he is capable of. The other,
is moving Miles Austin up to the #3 spot. He has shown a lot more than Crayton, fights for every catch and has the downfield speed to hurt teams. If we can get these 3 rolling and get them the ball, this might be one of the best groups of receivers in the league. Few if any teams can cover all 3 of them, let alone once you get Witten out there as well. Crayton remains a solid back up at the fourth spot. Hurd and Stanback will be on the bubble.No need to look to the draft here either.
And now for everyone's favorite target at whipping boy. Romo didn't have his best season, I won't argue otherwise. However, the combination of injuries and a turnstyle O-line didn't give him much chance. I still fully believe in Tony, but some things need to be addressed in the offseason. I don't think bringing in someone to compete with him is the answer, as many here do. With his contract, he is going to be our starter for a long time. Get used to it. The key is going to be putting him a position to succeed. Having him running for his life every passing down is not
the answer, that much I am sure of. I'm going to look at another QB who was his teams whipping boy recently for a game plan. We all remember the beating Eli Manning took in the football world last year prior to NY's title run. Like Romo, he had a knack for costly turnovers. Well, lets look at what's helped Eli, as the same things will help Romo. First, the O-line has to protect him. Romo was under siege for much of the year, and the injuries that resulted from it made him less effective. We saw in 07 that with protection and time to make his reads, he can produce at a high
level. He also should not be the main weapon for the offense. The other key to improving on what he can do, is to take the running game to a whole new level. We have the players to do that. Look at how little Eli has to do now in NY to win. A similar plan in Dallas would reap some great benefits. Get our 3 headed monster at RB dominating games and take the pressure off Tony to try and win the game on his own. Make play action really freeze a defense. Make them scared of the run. Protection and running will help Romo immensely, and should cut down on the turnovers. He also needs to have the phrase, "throw it away when there's nothing there" shoved down his throat through the entire offseason. As much fun as we've all had watching some of the crazy plays he's made when things break down, this is most often when the other team ends up with the INT or fumble. Now, I'm not advocating killing off his knack for improvisation, it's part of who he is, and what makes him special, he does however, need to use better judgement on when, and when not to, try and extend a play. Coaching will be big in helping to make this happen. Romo has the talent to take us where we want to go, we need a little patience with him, remember, next year will only be his 3rd year going in as the starter. There is no other way for a QB to improve than to play the game, and he hasn't played many. He still has a lot of upside and will get better. I am beginning to see the "leader" mentality brewing in him, he's shown signs this season. I do
believe he will grow into the "field general" so many want to see. Winning matters to this guy! The need at the position is obvious, neither of the backups on the roster this season were capable of anything. Either in free agency or the draft a competent back up must be found.
This is the guy who can make or break everything...
I do not claim to be a great X's and O's guy. Though I've learned a lot from some I know and from reading Raf's excellent work for several years now. So here's my main problem with the Red-Headed-Numbskull. I spent half this season calling
our offenses' plays as soon as I saw how they lined up. Now if I can do that, sitting on my couch, with no coaching experience...I'm pretty sure guys like Rex Ryan, Jim Johnson and Dick Lebeau aren't losing any sleep over what we're going to throw at them on game day. So, if Detroit decides not to take him off our hands, it appears he's going to be calling the offense again next season. I would like to see Garrett succeed here, he's got history with the team. But, seriously man, you need to do some serious studying during the offseason. The weapons you have to work with are most OC's wet dream. Let's just review there, you have the best TE in the NFL, and another great one right behind him, 3 big fast, strong WR's, 3 awesome RB's, a mammoth O-line and a good QB. We all know you're a smart guy, but would you mind showing it on the field? Please???? I have a hard time believing that this group should ever put up less than 20 points a game. There are very few, if any, other offenses that have this amount of talent assembled in one place. If they can put up the points on teams like Pittsburgh, we should be able to as well. So hit the books Jason...
Get creative, but not so cute please. There is nothing wrong with running right up the gut out of the I formation on 3rd and short.
I'll take a crack at the D and ST's and Wade next time around...