After a season of bitter losses, it's easy to get discouraged. Making matters worse is that several of the Cowboys best players do not have many years left. Witten turns 30 this off-season. Ware will, too. Romo turns 32.
Then there are other players that don't deserve to be on the team next year, like Newman, Brooking, and maybe even Brady James and Ratliff, both of whom will turn 31 before next season starts.
I think last year, Jones hoped the 1-7 start under Philips was something of a fluke. That the defense was better than it showed. And it was better this year. But not nearly good enough.
Between the shaky defensive backfield and the lack of a pressure on the QB (outside of Ware or a blitz, the Cowboys seem like they are a long way from being a dominant football team on the defensive side.
The offense, on the other hand, has a lot of firepower. For sure, I wish the last game against the Giants was played with Romo having an unswollen passing hand and Demarco Murray being in the line up.
But if the offense is healthy, this team looks like a team that can put a lot of points on the board. Not that there can't be improvements there, too.
More after the jump.The obvious weaknesses on defense start with the lack of a pass rush. You are not going deep in the playoffs or getting to the playoffs if the great quarterbacks can pick you apart. However bad our secondary is, it's made much worse by the need to blitz and the lack of pressure on the QB. Obviously, we're stuck with the mediocrity of Sensabaugh, who will be 29 next year, given the long term contract the team just gave him. Jenkins showed heart this year. Scandrick is an OK third CB but not a starter. But Newman has to go. He clearly can't cover any more. He compounds that problem with mediocre tackling and a long injury history. Where he was once a solid cover corner, he's now a guy offensive coordinators attack at will.
We've all hoped the Spencer was going to transform himself into Demarcus Ware lite. Yes, he was good against the run, and yes he had a few big plays in the backfield. But not enough. This is a first round player, lined up opposite the best rushing linebacker in football. He simply has to be more disruptive, but he's not and he's a free agent. You gotta let me go and find a replacement. IT would be nice if the Cowboys got innovative and found a nose tackle who could beat one-on- one coverage or a defensive end who could.
Someway, some how, the cowboys have get consistent pressure on the quarterback A few quarterbacks need to be taken out of games, in fact. This needs to be a pass rush that other QBs dread. Can they find a better nose tackle? Is there an end that can give them some pressure and still stop runs on running downs? But mostly, can they find the next Ware?
For sure, they need to use their first round pick on other that pass rusher and that pass rusher need to deliver in year one or they need to use it on a cover corner. The truth be be known, the cowboys need an infusion here. No one on the defensive line is special. James and Brooking best years are in the rear-view mirror.
So what can Jerry do. He must draft well and he can't be stupid again and lavish a big contract on a mediocre free agent thirtysometing player cornerback or safety. That's why we're in this mess now.
Can we find a cover saftey in the draft? What about a cover corner? What free agents will be worth while?
History says not. But in the off season, there's always hope.