The Cowboys last playoff team was the 2003 edition. How does this year's model stack up to that one, personnel wise? You be th judge:
2003 and 2005
I see a 2005 club that is better at on WR position. Keyshawn is old by NFL standards and not a burner, but he's much more productive than Joey Galloway was. Center is much better today, as is RG. Petitti is green, but he can't be worse than Young, who was playing on a bad knee. Jason Witten is more seasoned now. At RB Jones is head and shoulders above Hambrick. And for all his faults, a 33 year old Drew Bledsoe is better than Quincy Carter.
On defense, the line is stronger, with Ferguson better than Stewart and Leo Carson, who rotated in. Ellis is an upgrade over Ekuban and at Ellis' old position, the rotation of Coleman and the emerging manchild Marcus Spears should be an upgrade by week eight, if not sooner. (They won't get worn down rotating, where Ellis had to take all the snaps.) Another factor is depth. Chris Canty is on this unit. Willie Blade was on the '03 team.
At linebacker, it's a bit unfair to compare, since the systems they played in were apples and oranges, but Ware shows far more playmaking capability than Coakley. Dexter was ideal for the old system, but he didn't produce sacks and turnovers in the way Ware suggests he can. When Dallas went to the bench then, Marcus Steele came in. Today, Kevin Burnett and Scott Shanle do.
In the secondary, Anthony Henry is one cut above Mario Edwards, perhaps two.
The only place where the '03 Cowboys were decidedly better was at FS, where Darren Woodson stands above the game but inexperienced Keith Davis.
That team went 10-6. Can this year's model hope for the same? It has better talent.