We have all had a chance to digest the upcoming 2012 Dallas Cowboys schedule. It does not look easy.
Sept 16 @ Seattle
Sept 23 Tampa Bay
Nov 18 Cleveland
Dec 9 @ Cincinnati
Oct 1 Chicago
Oct 21 @ Carolina
Nov 22 Washington
Dec 30 @ Washington
Oct 14 @ Baltimore
Oct 28 NY Giants
Nov 4 @ Atlanta
Dec 2 Philadelphia
Sept 5 @ NY Giants
Nov 11 @ Philadelphia
Dec 16 Pittsburgh
Dec 23 New Orleans
On paper (and early), it looks like another 8-8 season. However, we all know that anything can happen. The emergence of unknowns, good health, and the demise of perennial contenders can swing the pendulum in different directions.
By Christmas 2012, we will have 15 games in the books with only a trip to see RGIII in DC remaining. At this time we should have a pretty good grasp on the 2012 season.
Yes, it is way too early, but here are 12 “positive hopes” for 2012 that I fee will be vital to our success.
12. Dan Bailey continues his reliable kicking. Whether it is acquisitions via free agency (Vanderjagt) or the draft (Folk), this position continues to be an issue. We all thought that Folk had a bright future until he got a case of the yips. Bailey only has one year under his belt, but his smooth and effortless style gives me reason to believe that he will continue to be a reliable and clutch kicker for years to come.
11. The health of Tyron Smith and Doug Free. There continues to be a lot of concern about the interior of our offensive line. Myself, I feel pretty good about the competition going into camp. I am much more concerned about Jermey Parnell as our reserve swing tackle. I do not want to ever witness another performance similar to that of Alex Barron a couple of years ago!
10. Dez and Miles. I keep reading about a #3 WR emerging, but I think more than anything we need Miles and/or Dez to start playing like a No. 1 WR. These guys were rarely healthy last season. If we get both these guys healthy and on the field at the same time, almost anybody can be productive in that slot. Sorry Jerry, but these two guys are the key, not Andre Holmes!
9. Bruce Lee. I don’t know if others were as frustrated as I was last year watching our aging veteran ILB’s try and make plays in space. Thank God Sean Lee emerged. Now it is time for our Bruce Lee combination to dominate. If Carter can emerge like Lee did, it will take a lot of pressure off our defensive backs.
8. The Orton Factor. Kyle gave up at trying to find a starting job in the NFL, and that was our gain. Orton signed a multi-year deal, which in my opinion may free up a roster spot. This will let us go long at a different position where injury or talent warrants it.
7. Bye Bye Buehler. See #8 above. No PK specialist means that we can keep one extra player. This could be an old veteran that we sign during camp as insurance for an injury, or a young deserving camp player that has impressed coaches.
6. Mr. Henderson and Mr. Callahan. I think we all appreciated the years of service that Hud and Camp gave this team, but we needed some new life and their respective positions were two of the glaring weaknesses on this team.
5. More CC’s. Our CB position needed an upgrade and Jerry got it done. There is no possible way that Claiborne or Carr can play worse than Newman did last season.
4. Red & Rob. In 2010 Red was named an interim head coach. In 2011 the lockout limited Red and Rob’s off-season work with this team. In my opinion, there are no more excuses for Red & Rob. Too many times Romo has to yell instructions to his offensive teammates as they are lining up and the defensive players are looking at each other while raising their hands and shrugging their shoulders. This should not be happening to a professional football team! I want to see a team out there that looks and acts well coached.
3. Improved safety play. It’s hard to say that with a straight face. I am not expecting a lot from rookie Matt Johnson, or FA Brodney Pool. I think it is going to take a collective effort. I think more than anything, if the underneath coverage (LB’s) can improve and the outside (CB’s) coverage can improve, our safeties will have more freedom to read and react.
2. DeMagic. Sure it was the weakest part of the schedule, but the Cowboys were rolling when DeMarco Murray was carrying the ball 20 times a game. His game-breaking ability kept up all glued to the TV, because we knew he was only one shoestring tackle away from taking it to the house! I know the durability concerns are there, but I am hopeful that we can get a 300 carry/1,200+ yard season from DeMarco, which would likely also mean we are winning football games.
1. Tony Romo. Romo has simply carried this team for the last six seasons. It is hard to think of this team being successful without a career season from Romo. In those six seasons, our defense has not stopped anyone when it has counted. Imagine what a running game and dominant defense could do?