As training camps are set to convene, fan speculation increases. We've had rookie camps, OTAs and offseason workouts. All of which say much and mean nothing. We've all read the reports and listened to the coaches talk about player A looking fantastic. Player B is stronger this year. Player C has really worked hard this off season and we expect big things from him.
The Cowboys' offseason has received superfluous reviews. Warranted or unwarranted. We have been over PFF grades and the extrapolation explanations of why this unit or that unit was better than you thought. Yet there the Cowboys sat at 8-8 in 2011. Mediocre, middle of the pack, again sitting at home watching the playoffs.
We fans entered the offseason pontificating over another failed season. We replay it in our minds time and time again. This play , that play. IF we would have not dropped that INT. If we would have converted that 4th-and-goal. If Garrett would have....and on it goes. The offseason commences and the media jockeys begin to tell us how smart they are and why your team wasn't worthy enough to be in the playoffs.
In our case it's Tony Romo (tongue planted firmly in cheek). Fortunately for fans we get a bone in April via the NFL draft. For some of us the draft is our other life. The end of the 3-day jubilee brings with it an even larger void as the off season drags on....until July. July brings with it a new beginning for football fans. Finally the prior failed season is but a fading memory as the new and hope is now the primary focus.
As I was perusing through the roster I began to wonder what percentage of improvement will manifest itself with each position group. This can be an exercise in futility as we don't yet know who the starting 22 will be. Furthermore, breaking down the percentage of improvement is but mere speculation by any fan or pundit. As I delved further into my thought process I began to break down the percentage of each of the starting 22 players and how much improvement is necessary to make the playoffs.
Assigning each player a maximum 100%, the cumulative total would equal 2200% for the starting 22. Now the X-Factor comes into focus. For example, if Tron's highest possible value is 100% , what percentage did he play at in 2011? I graded Tron at 85%, which is stellar for a rookie offensive tackle. Costa , I graded at 35%. Free at 65%. Lumpy at 70%. Kosier at 36%. No one was as bad as Costa. Cumulative total for the O-Line: 291% out of a possible 500%.
Now that you understand how this exercise works, let's look at all of the position groups (I'll be using a 2-back set) and how much improvement we need to make a serious playoff run. We will look at the variables like special teams after the breakdown. Jump to it !
|POS Group||Max Grade||2011 Grade||2012 Grade||2012 Starters|
|O-Line||500%||291%||375%||Tron, Nate, Mac, Leary, Free|
|RBs||200%||75% (injuries)||190%||DeMarco, Vickers|
|D-Line||300%||180%||210%||Liss, Rat, Hatch|
|LBs||400%||285%||355%||Ware, Carter, Lee, Spencer|
|DBs||400%||145%||295%||Carr, Mo, Sensi , Pool|
The 2011 total for the offense is 666%. Projected total for the 2012 offense is 925%. Which equates to a 259%-age points improvement for the offense. 2011 total for the defense is 610%. Projected total for the 2012 defense is 860%, which is a 250%-age point improvement for the defense. Total team improvement for the 22 starters equals 509%. This represents a substantial upgrade for the team, embarking upon the 2012 season. With a percentage increase of over 500% the playoffs should be just a formality. A deep run and even the superbowl should be a realistic attainable goal. With the improved cb play both the d line and linebackers have an opportunity to increase their posiiton groups percentage to an even higher number.
On to the unknown variables, including special teams:
Will Dallas find a legit replacement for Dez as a returner? Dallas averaged 7.1 yards a return last season on punt returns. That is pathetic. In letter grades if would be an F-. This needs to be addressed as special teams play a huge role in the outcome of a game. Imagine the offense getting a minimum of 10 yards closer to the goal line 3 times a game. Over an entire season it begins to add up. I don't want Dez to return punts as it would make him more susceptible to injury.
3 WR sets. This is the great unknown. Our starters are as good a pair as you could ask for. Who will be the third WR? What percentage will he figure into the team totals at the end of the season? Will one player step up and own the position ? Or will it be 3rd wr by comittee ?
Coaching. What percentage of increase will there be? I think Garrett needs a 50% improvement from last season. With the new assistant coaches I believe as group they will be greatly improved and motivated. I am certainly looking forward to the changes in the secondary and o line. Last seasons coaches at those respective positions had long since grown stale. New voice , new fervor , much anticipation.
Obviously this is all speculative on my part and my opinion. I am interested in what the retinue of BTB thinks.I look forward to and would appreciate your opinions on whether you see the marked improvements I am expecting, and/ or what your percentage totals might be . All projection systems are flawed. There are few absolutes in the game of football. It is a game unlike any other. For instance, qb's needing 10 other players working in unison to succeed. No other sport commands the necessary team work as football. I love this game !
I would like to thank OCC for helping me with the tables in this post.