Every year there are predictions that come out for the season’s outlook. 2008 people were on board the Cowboys in the offseason, after all they touted a deep talented defense (or so we thought) that had added first round pick Mike Jenkins and the infamous Adam “Pacman” Jones. The offense was coming off a record-setting season that had scored the most points in franchise history and the backfield was bolstered with the home run hitting (or so we thought) Felix Jones.
2009 approaches and life as a Cowboys fan hits an all time low (or so it felt). Seemingly given every chance to make the playoffs, Dallas walks into the Philadelphia at the end of the 2008 season and gets slaughtered, embarrassed, etc. etc., by Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. The All Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens is released and it seemingly divides the BTB community. It’s the first time that I ever saw a very splintered fanbase on this site. The people who have been around can attest, there were quite a few people who defended TO like he was the Cowboys, and that the team would do no better than 6-10 the next season. 2008 had left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth and quite frankly, nobody knew what to expect. The team often looked like the 2008 team at the start of the 2009 season. The offense struggled to put points on the board and early losses to the Broncos and a close win against the bottom feeding Chiefs didn’t give much hope.
It did however create a #1 WR. Miles Austin emerged from that Roy Williams injury, seemingly taking every pass that was thrown his way and using runningback like strength to pull away from defenders. Still though, there were questions. Dallas gave up a nice lead to the Giants and then struggled to get into the endzone on four tries against the San Diego Chargers.
It definitely looked to be like another playoff-barren year. Then something happened. Dallas, for whatever reason, played their best football in years and went on a tear that would see them beat the undefeated Saints, then pitch back to back shutouts of the Redskins and the Eagles. The following week Dallas would once again be in the playoffs and finally get that playoff win that had haunted them for so long. They battered the Eagles in a game that would be the last that McNabb would ever wear their uniform.
The 2009 season ended with a battering by the Vikings, but still it felt like Dallas was at least on the right track. Bad loss, but it had seemed that they had finally come together and figured out how to work as as team.
Not so fast my friends.
2010 was a mixture of frustration and bad football. Dallas literally fumbled two of their games that season away, both to the Redskins and the Saints. The defense looked like they had replaced everyone on the team, when in fact there was very little turnover. Apparently, Alan Ball was not ready for primetime, and at that point neither was anyone else. A team with promise lost games, their quarterback. Scratch that QUARTERBACKS, and looked like they had no identity. Jason Garrett takes over and turns them around to a modest 5-3 over the last few games of the season. Peaks of promise came off the ultra talented Dez Bryant and the Sean Lee who seemed to make more players in one game than previous nickel linebacker and first round pick, Bobby Carpenter, ever made.
So here we are, a few months later, a few draft picks, and for most part the same team.
A pessimist would say this.
-No significant changes have been made.
-The other teams have all gotten better in the division.
An optimist on the other hand would probably say this.
-New coordinators, new scheme should approve.
-This team is basically the same team that went 11-5 and won a playoff game a couple of years ago, with possible improvements to the line.
So where do I stand?
I like to think that the team is somewhere in the middle of those two teams. I’m optimistic about Rob Ryan’s defense because it’s different, but cautious because as regular poster Fan In Thick And Thin has shown, his track record hasn’t been that great. So I definitely am cautious but hopeful that his personality and style will help this team, especially its young corner Mike Jenkins, return to form. I’m optimistic as well because I do feel like Jason Garrett and Romo are trying to make this team a PROFESSIONAL organization, despite how bat **** crazy their owner is.
So instead of a firm prediction I will say this, I think that if Dallas can return to some of that 2009 form, they can get back to 10-6, but I feel like their worst is sitting at 7-9. 8-8 or 9-7 is probably what most people will put them at.
I’ll leave you with this, everyone has images of last season in their heads including me, but history shows that the NFL (except for a few teams) is very unpredictable. The season for the most part, barring Jaguars and Packers butcherings, can be broken down by just a few big plays. A play against Arizona here, a play against Washington there, another play against Minnesota, and yet another play against New Orleans… that’s four more wins there.
I think this team is a few pieces from being great, but I honestly don’t think they are far removed from being good. We will see…