So here we are, early in the offseason, and the annual rite of predicting contenders for the Super Bowl to be played in 2012 has begun. As much as it pains other fans around the league, and sometimes pains us (expectations can be too much sometimes), the Dallas Cowboys keep showing up among the upper-tier of Super Bowl contenders.
It's seem strange that the Cowboys would be among that group after coming off a 6-10 season where they were forced to fire their coach midseason. Or maybe it's because we did fire Wade Phillips that pundits are high on the Cowboys again this year. Last year, we were a heavy-favorite to represent the NFC in the big game, but Wade Phillips charged out of the gate to a 1-7 record and all was lost.
When Jason Garrett took over, we rebounded to a 5-3 record. So the conventional wisdom that Dallas had one of the most-talented rosters in the league could still be true, it just took a coach that could tap into that reservoir of talent. That's what people are seeing in Jason Garrett.
But is it warranted? Should the Cowboys be thought of as Super Bowl contenders after the abysmal 2010 season?
Apparently, some people think so.
Okay, Pete Prisco is only predicting the playoffs for Dallas in 2011, but if you make the playoffs, that makes you a contender for the whole thing by default.
I really liked the way Jason Garrett instilled discipline in this team after taking over, leading them to a 5-3 second half after the 1-7 start. The discipline showed on game days. That's why he earned the job.
The defense, which is now run by Rob Ryan, a coach I respect greatly, will be where the big improvement is made. Anthony Spencer, a disappointment last season, will bounce back with a big season under Ryan. That will give the Cowboys two good pass rushers in Spencer and DeMarcus Ware. The secondary played poorly in 2010, but Ryan should help get that unit playing better.
Let's not forget that this was a chic Super Bowl pick before the 2010 season. Now that Garrett is running things, I think they start to look like it again.
Analysis: Jason Garrett went 5-3 over the second half of the season after Wade Phillips got the Cowboys off to a 1-7 start. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are coming back healthy in 2011, but if the secondary isn’t upgraded this offseason, the ‘Boys will struggle in the always-challenging NFC East.
2011 Result: CONTENDER
6. Dallas Cowboys - Nothing went right for Dallas in 2010, but there still might not be a more talented team in the league than the Cowboys. Without the pressure of a Super Bowl in their stadium, and with a competent coach in place, Dallas might be able to get its act together and be the surprise team of 2011.
So what say you BTB community? Is the praise and respect deserved, or are they inflating expectations that won't be met?