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The VRR: The Cowboys' Regular Season is Right Around the Corner

We have been waiting for this week for a long time. With preseason over and the 53-man roster set, it is time to focus on the regular season.

After missing out on the playoffs last year, it may be difficult not to be curious about what the season has in store for the 2009 version of the Dallas Cowboys. SAEN's Tom Orsborn debates whether or not the Cowboys are a playoff-caliber team.

The Cowboys aren’t the only NFC East team with issues. The Eagles lack a cohesive offensive line, the Giants lack a dynamic receiver, and the Redskins lack a quarterback they can believe in. But only Dallas has a well-earned reputation for folding when it counts most. Another brutal December schedule looms, and there’s no evidence the Cowboys will deal with it in championship fashion.

Let's just take it one game at a time, shall we?

This Sunday, when the Cowboys take on Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers will be starting Byron Leftwich at quarterback. Because the team traded Luke McCown to the Jaguars on Saturday, first-round pick Josh Freeman will be the team's immediate backup to Leftwich.

"We are married to him," Morris said Sunday. "Everything we do around that position, around this team, around this organization, around the Tampa Bay area ... when we clean the street on MacDill, it's going to be around Freeman."

Freeman will be one injury by Leftwich away from taking over the Bucs' offense, even though he showed he needs considerably more experience before he's anywhere near ready to see regular season action.

More VRR after the jump.

Here is how the Bucs' depth chart currently stands.

Vic Carucci lists the Bucs as one of his five teams that have reason to panic.

The defense is very young, and its inexperience has shown during the preseason. One player it needs to be able to count on is cornerback Aqib Talib, but his off-field issues are cause for concern. His most recent incident was an arrest for allegedly assaulting a cab driver.

Rich Gannon weighs in on the preseason firing of coordinators.

"I think it's embarrassment to an organization," Gannon said. "You're supposed to be ready for the opener, and you're making critical changes to your staff. ... A coordinator has to get all the coaches on the same page, and the time isn't there now to do that."

For you number-crunching folks, Larry Acker breaks down the Cowboys' upcoming opponents vs. those from last year. Pretty interesting stuff. Check it out.

When looking at all of the numbers, I come away with a couple of things. First, the Cowboys should be able to put up tons of yards and points this year. With a significant drop in average opponents’ defensive rankings, they should be able to move the ball offensively pretty well. As I said, getting back Felix Jones should help as well. Keeping Romo healthy will be the key. Second, if the Cowboys had a weakness on defense last year, it was rush defense. Obviously, with Ware bringing the heat, the pass rush was ferocious last year. But, the ‘boys could be run on, and they will be facing even better rushing offenses (on average) this year than last. The hardcore Dallas fans will know better if there are any changes that you could expect to see improvements in rush defense, but based on this analysis, it looks like there may be more rush yards given up than last year. Most likely, the Cowboys’ strategy will be to try to get early leads that will take away opponents’ run games. If they can do this, it will help their run defense.

The Cowboys were awarded their waiver claim on S Marvin White, but they had also put in claims for two other players: RB Chauncy Washington and LB Tim Shaw. Both players were released by the Jaguars.

Stephen Hodge is happy to see another Horned Frog on the Dallas roster.

Cowboys rookie linebacker Stephen Hodge sent White a text. That’s how White, who played at TCU, found out he was headed to the Cowboys. "I couldn’t be any happier," White said after arriving in D-FW. "It’s a blessing how God works. This is home, too, so the transition should be much easier for me."


"He is a headhunter," said Hodge, a sixth-round pick whom the Cowboys placed on injured reserve Saturday. "Everybody tells me I hit hard, but he was probably the hardest hitter at TCU. ... He also has a tremendous work ethic. He just loves playing the game. ... I’m glad we got him."

Could rookie K David Buehler help the Cowboys special teams' coverage units with his shoulder pads?

Dallas took Buehler strictly for kickoffs, with reliable Nick Folk, a former Arizona Wildcat, still handling field goals. Buehler hopes to eventually have both jobs, but for now he's comfortable with a different kind of double duty, kicking off and working with other coverage units.

Dallas would prefer to pack its coverage squads with guys who make a living hitting and tackling and leave its specialist on the sideline, except for his own kickoffs. But it's not that simple.

Several rookies who were expected to contribute primarily on special teams are already hurt. One is out for the year and two more are going to miss the first month. So the luxury of having a kicker who can tackle is suddenly close to being a necessity. It also makes it easier to justify Buehler's spot on the 53-man roster.

Not only are the Patriots taking on the Isaiah Stanback-at-QB project; they have also signed CB DeAngelo Willingham, just recently released by Dallas, to their practice squad.

Apparently, Stanback is more comfortable playing quarterback.

"I tried very hard at receiver," Stanback said. "I busted my butt at receiver and did whatever was asked of me. I think I could do it, but I was never comfortable with it. Quarterback is what I've done my whole life. It's what I'm comfortable with."

Nick Eatman put together a list of former Cowboys recently released.

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