I've been a Cowboys fan for over 35 years now and I cannot remember ever being quite so excited about the Cowboys going into the season.
There are a variety of reasons for this....I have to admit that perhaps some of my excitement stems from the fact that for the first time ever I will get to see the Cowboys play live, not once, but twice. I am going down to the SF preseason game next week and a friend who has season tickets to the Chiefs is taking me with him in October. He's definite proof that not all Chiefs fans suck :)
But I do not really think that's the source of my excitement because I have been pumped ever since the draft.
The draft? What the heck am I thinking? I mean where's the impact?
Well, we've hashed the draft over and over and our opinions are probably set as to the value of the draft, so I do not want to get into a huge discussion about it. I will merely say that once I thought about what they were doing I not only understood their strategy but also agreed with it. We needed to shuffle the bottom 25 players, we didn't need starters, we needed people to do the dirty work, and I think we got some.
I also recognize that not all of these players will pan out, however, I do think our odds of having, say, 4 or 5 out of 12 become really productive NFL players are pretty good. It's not like we're hoping for 4 good players out of 7, especially given that even 1st rounders are not guaranteed. I am comfortable predicting that in 5 or 6 years we'll look back at the drafts of 2009 and 2010 and seeing the foundation of a damn good team that will win its share of playoff games. The NFL is no longer entirely about having a bunch of stars, it's about having a few stars and a whole bunch of solid, productive players.
I think they're there on our roster. I see everyone concerned about our depth at a few positions because we don't have proven producers behind our starters.
To which, I respond, uh, yeah, and this is different from every other NFL team how?
The nature of the free agency and salary cap structure mean that proven backups get picked up by other teams for exorbitant salaries or traded away for immediate value. The NFL is now about getting production from unknown players. For example, which of us would rather have Tank Johnson, a formerly proven DT with slightly more salary than the minimum as opposed to Junior Siavii? No doubt that Johnson is more well known, but I think we're going to get more production out of Siavii than Johnson.
Hence I, for one, am not concerned about depth.
OK, so I'm not viewing this with rose-colored glasses. We lose Ware for the season and we're screwed. Kitna's an improvement on Brad Johnson and he could cover us for a few games, but for the bulk of the season? No way. Yeah, I'm more and more intrigued by Siavii the more I learn and see of him, but let's be honest, we are relying on the Rat.
And you can pick players from every other team that are just as crucial for them.
We can't predict injuries. They will happen. If we're lucky, the injuries will be minor and happen at places of greater depth for us, such as running back. We could get unlucky like last year.
And so I view injuries as part of the serenity prayer. Fix what we can, accept what we can't, and hopefully we'll know the difference.
Jerry Jones has figured out some things he can fix. First, he's gotten a bunch of new players to fix some things that I predict will show us some improvement.
For example, I really believe our special teams will be better this year. You might think I'm crazy after last night, but understand that right now there's a ton of fluctuation on special teams. My understanding of special teams is that it's often controlled chaos which means that players need to work as a unit. We haven't seen any consistency yet, but I predict we will in the next few weeks as things settle down, fewer players get used, those players learn DeCam's system. There's an energy on our coverage units that I have not seen in previous years.
And I think that sums up my excitement about this team. We know we have as much talent as any other team. But this year, I perceive that we have more energy, more zest, and more enthusiasm.
The NFL is a cruel league. Stuff happens. We could quite easily miss the playoffs again if injuries go against us.
But I definitely believe this team has a greater chance of winning the Super Bowl than I believed of last year's team. 2007 was a very lucky year in terms of injuries and breaks, and we were due. I expected regression to the mean in 2008.
Yet in 2009 a regression to the mean is in our favor, and combined with our energy and our enthusiasm makes me excited.
We may not win the Super Bowl this year, we may not win anything this year, but this year I feel confident we're going to be excited because we're going to hit people and score points.
And I am immensely excited to see a taste of that in a week.