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People Are Starting To Take A Second Look At The Cowboys

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August 2010.  The Cowboys are the favorite of almost everyone (not counting Football Outsiders) to win the NFC East.  With a largely intact team back from an 11-5 campaign and the first playoff victory in what seemed like forever, Dallas was eyeing the Super Bowl that was being played in their house.

November 2010.  As the record falls to 1-7, Jerry Jones finally faces the reality of the crater that is the Cowboys season and makes a head coaching change.  The Super Bowl dream is long forgotten.

August 2011.  With some big free agency signings, the Eagles are the favorite of almost everybody to win the NFC East.  With their unquestioned superstar quarterback (uh, well, the Steelers had a couple of things to ask him, it appeared) and key weapons from 2010, they are poised to finally challenge for the Super Bowl Championship.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys just smile to themselves and keep practicing with focus and determination.  They are under the radar.  And they seem to like it there.

Unfortunately, some members of the media are starting to reconsider what is happening with the Cowboys.  It looks like our cover may be blown.

More about losing our stealth mode after the jump

I personally was quite content to see all the national writers putting Dallas down around third place in the division.  After the debacle of last year, I did not want to see the team over-hyped.  Then today I see two articles, posted on consecutive days, that take the view that the Cowboys may be a contender this year.

The first one in the Sporting News specifically cites the Eagles "hoopla" for distracting everyone.  Vinnie Iver goes on to make some arguments that I have seen over and over here on this site, starting with this one:

the Cowboys have a roster talented enough to bounce back and take the division.

The first thing he lists is the return of Tony Romo, complimented by his big three receivers, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten.  Iver sees this as an explosion waiting to happen, something that most of us certainly agree on.

Next up he lists the improvements on the offensive line.  Clearly he finds Tyron Smith an upgrade and seems to think Phil Costa will be in the mix.  However, he lists Andre Gurode as part of the solution.  Maybe he hasn't been reading Rotoworld.  

One place he is definitely preaching to the choir here at BTB is in his comment on the defensive front seven, which he sees as a core strength of the team.  This is the "Amen!  Preach it!" quote:

They were fortunate to get a good replacement for Wade Phillips to oversee their defense. Armed with a premier all-around player in outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, new coordinator Rob Ryan adds a necessary attitude and aggressive scheme.

Well, most of us are on board with that.  Some people have raised doubts based on the fact that he is trying to get a new scheme in place as well as the fact he has had some pretty mediocre defenses, albeit without a Ware or Ratliff in his tool kit.

Ivers also sees that the secondary needs to improve, but feels that keeping the players in place healthy is the key. This is one place I think he is more optimistic than most of us, who still worry that we don't have the talent needed to handle the passing attacks the Cowboys will face.  And he doesn't even mention the safeties.

He is back on more solid ground with his remark that there is concern with the kickers (duh) and then closes out the article with another line guaranteed to get a shout from the congregation.

Knowing they're held more accountable by their coach.

Obviously, he is one man who does think that the coach can impact the way his player respond.

If Ivers seems to be a fan of the new Cowboys coaching staff, the article in the National Football Post is written by a guy who is all aboard the bandwagon and doing bongs of blue Kool Aid.  Matt Bowen hints he is going to pick Dallas to win NFC East, and he attributes his choice to one primary reason.

 Because of the new defensive coordinator in town—Rob Ryan.

As the debate over the how good the Cowboys D will be rages on, it is nice for us optimists to see someone else with the same kind of view as we have.  And like Ivers, Bowen clearly believes that the coaches will have a big effect on how his player perform.

Can one coaching change really do that? Of course. I saw it first-hand when Gregg Williams came into Washington. The first day he walked into the meeting room, our attitude and defensive scheme flipped. What came next was accountability and a different approach to practice and game days.

The leadership from the coaches is crucial, and did you notice that "accountable" thing showing up again?

Oh, Bowen does think there are other factors in making Dallas a possible pick for the division.  The next thing after the above quote:

But we didn’t have the offense that Dallas does right now. Because this is the other part of the equation for the Cowboys. A healthy Tony Romo at QB and solid talent at the skill positions.

A little more simply put than the other column, but basically the same things.  The talent from last year with some new fire on the defensive side of the ball, leading to the conclusion that maybe the Cowboys deserve more respect than they have been getting.

And those aren't the only people showing a little silver and blue optimism.  As OCC pointed out after reading my article while I was working on it (yes, he is the coming omniscient cyber overlord), John Clayton at ESPN sees a likelihood for 10 wins, citing the youth movement on the O line and the way the D line is shaping up even after the loss of Stephen Bowen.

And Peter Schrager over at Fox notes that every team could potentially win it all this year (they are all undefeated). But he also lists Rob Ryan as the big plus for Dallas.  I am getting a tad miffed at everyone figuring this out.

It all leaves me a little torn.  I like that some national writers put out articles that largely agree with what a lot of people, like me, have been saying right here.  But I am not too sure I am glad someone else is seeing what we see in the Cowboys.

I love stealth.  I hate to see our cover blown.