Two preseason games down, two to go. Time to do my forecast for the coming week.
I was doing these as Fanposts, but I know not everyone who reads the front page gets over to the fan section (although you really should, particularly the recommended section, 'cause there is some primo stuff there), so let me explain what this is all about. This is my "bad weather" prediction for the Cowboys. I like to take a different view of things, so in these forecasts I set out a percentage chance for a certain part of the game to be a problem this week along with some discussion of why I feel that way. It's just like the weather guy. The higher the percentage, the more concern I feel about this part of the team. And the range is 10% to 90%, because nothing is completely certain, and there is always some small chance of things going completely opposite of the direction they have been.
Also, I have never tried a 53 man roster prediction, but I am going to include it here. As always, arguments, discussions, catcalls, and mocking are acceptable as long as it is done in accordance with the site standards.
Quarterback If there is one position on the roster that is set, it is this. And based on the Chargers game, I think the team has nothing to worry about here. Tony Romo made one bad throw, and the rest of the time he spent on the field looked far better than he did until well into the regular season last year. The only question at this point is when will the current #3 quarterback becomes the #2 quarterback. And the answer, basically, is when Jason Garrett thinks he's ready.
CHANCE OF QB BEING A PROBLEM: 10% Last week: 10%
Roster (starters in bold): Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee (3)
Running back The Cat was on the prowl and looking great. Meanwhile, Phillip Tanner stepped up and Lonyae Miller didn't. And DeMarco Murray may see the field against the Vikings. I have to do a little Garrettology here and a lot of guessing/hoping on Murray, but I feel a little better this week. Especially after seeing Felix perform.
One question that remains is what does the team do about Tashard Choice. My best guess: He doesn't stay around.
CHANCE OF RB BEING A PROBLEM: 30% Last week: 40%
Roster: Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray, Phillip Tanner (3)
Tight End/Fullback Lumping these two together is just my way of admitting that I am not sure how the team will approach the fullback issue. There is always the chance they could go with essentially four tight ends and use one or two of them to provide the lead blocker. However, I think they will go with the safe option for now.
Obviously, the tight end position is set. The starter is simply the best in the league. There is depth as well, and good depth if Martellus Bennett can remember to catch the ball. (In his defense, he caught three of four last game, but with his history, he is not going to get a lot of slack). The only reason this is not at 10% is that I do lump the fullback in here.
CHANCE OF TE/FB BEING A PROBLEM: 20%. Last week: 20%
Roster (TE): Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips (3); (FB) Chris Gronkowski (1)
Wide Receiver This is one position that is absolutely maddening to consider. What happened with Dwayne Harris? It almost seemed like they left him out. Someone suggested they had seen all they needed to last week, but I find that a bit unlikely. I think it may have been more that there were just too many others they wanted to take a look at. There were, after all, 10 wide receivers targeted during the San Diego game. One bit of good news is that Kevin Ogletree looked solid if not spectacular. I hate to say it, but the last two slots here are pretty much half SWAG and half throwing a dart. And that level of uncertainty caused my forecast for trouble to tick up this week. It is also one choice that may be a bit of a surprise to some, but I am influenced by what I saw most recently.
One thing I am very mildly concerned about is that we have not seen Miles Austin yet. I realize that the team is being cautious and that there are no real worries about him, but he did have a little bit of a slump last year. I want to see him on the field and find out if the Miles that dazzled so in 2009 is back.
CHANCE OF WR BEING A PROBLEM: 30% Last week: 20%
Roster: Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Manuel Johnson (5)
Offensive Line Is there anything that is more surprising than the play we have seen out of the rookies and younger vets here? Is it possible a rookie tackle could be named Rookie of the Year? I keep telling myself to not get too hyped up about this, but all the reviews, from the simple eyeball test of watching a game to the most detailed play by play breakdowns, keep showing good things here. On the touchdown play from Sunday, Tony was running around, but it seemed to be more to find a target. The line pretty much had the pass rush shut down. Only caution bordering on superstition keeps me from improving the forecast here. The amazing thing to me is that, of my roster picks, the two bubble players are Montrae Holland and Sam Young. The team would probably have to sign a free agent if one of them was to be replaced, but Jerry is sitting on a reported $6 million in cap money right now.
CHANCE OF OL BEING A PROBLEM: 40% Last week: 40%
Roster: Doug Free, Phil Costa, Andre Gurode, Kyle Kosier, Tyron Smith, David Arkin, Bill Nagy, Sam Young, Montrae Holland (9)
Defensive Line Musiccitynorm wrote a great play by play post of Igor Olshansky that is a textbook example of damning with faint praise. While everyone else is really stepping it up, he just lumbers along. I think the addition of Kenyon Coleman makes him expendable. The only real issue here is for Rob Ryan to figure out how to use Jay Ratliff. I think this unit will be solid once they learn the system better.
CHANCE OF DL BEING A PROBLEM: 30% Last week: 40%
Roster: Marcus Spears, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Kenyon Coleman, Josh Brent, Sean Lissemore (6)
Linebackers What will happen with Bruce Carter? Here, I'm going to make a bit of a chancy prediction, and say that he will be on the roster for the first game. I make that call without any way to really know how serious his injury is, but that is just a kind of gut reaction as to what they coaches will do. The rest of the linebacking corps is pretty solid, with only the question of who the fourth outside backer will be. Unfortunately, Carter playing is likely to mean Orie Lemon will have to go on the practice squad, which is a bit of a shame. He is intriguing. I also show Victor Butler as the starter, but he and Anthony Spencer are going to be close to interchangeable. I hope. Alex Albright is largely a hope on my part.
CHANCE OF LB BEING A PROBLEM: 30% Last week: 30%
Roster (ILB): Bradie James, Sean Lee, Keith Brooking, Kerwin Cummings, Bruce Carter (5); (OLB) Demarcus Ware, Victor Butler, Anthony Spencer, Alex Albright. (4)
Defensive Backs There were some bad plays against the Chargers, but they seemed to be as much due to confusion over the coverage or scheme as anything else, and there were some positives. Gerald Sensabaugh almost had a beautiful pick, Alan Ball and Barry Church had some good coverage, Abram Elam and Danny McCray brought some blitzing excitement and some hard hits. The lingering injuries to Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman just make me nuts, though. Still, I am more hopeful this week. It's the biggest area of worry on the team, but a little less troubling than last week, at least to me.
CHANCE OF DB BEING A PROBLEM: 60% Last week: 70%
Roster (S): Abram Elam, Gerald Sensabaugh, Danny McCray, Barry Church, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (5); (CB) Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Alan Ball, Bryan McCann, Josh Thomas (6)
Special Teams The new kickoff rule continues to influence my thinking. I think it cost Jessie Holley his spot on the roster. AOA and Manny Johnson will likely be the deep men for kickoffs with Dez laying claim to the regular season punt return role. The big unknown is kicker. With four now in camp, this absolutely is a dart toss. I am going to make a bet that all the kicker karma that has gone so bad for us is going to finally reverse, and a washout from another team will catch fire and become the answer to our woes. But at this moment, we simply have no idea.
CHANCE OF ST BEING A PROBLEM: 40% Last week: 30%
Roster (ST): Mat McBriar, J.P. Ladoucer, Shayne Graham (3)
I think I got my numbers right on the 53. However, there are two more parts of the team that warrant a forecast.
Coaching I remain a firm believer in all things Jason Garrett, and I like Rob Ryan. The only concern is the complexity of the Big Robowski's scheme and whether he can get things up to snuff for the first game. I don't think he will have things more than about 75% to 80% in place for the Jets, with full installation coming midseason or even a little later. The load is going to be on the offense's shoulders the first half of the season, I think. Still, this beats the everliving crap out of the Wade Phillips era.
CHANCE OF COACHING BEING A PROBLEM: 30% Last week: 30%
Jerry Jones On the Dallas Cowboys, JJ is a unique presence. As owner/CEO/GM/head spokesman/chief bar crawler/grand poobah, he is pervasive. I am hopeful that Jason Garrett and Stephen Jones are getting him to back off on making his own personnel moves, but every time I see him parked in front of a bunch of reporters explaining his strategy for putting the roster together, I want to go find an industrial strength taser and head for Valley Ranch to conduct a little counseling and motivation session. ("What happens when you sound off to the microphones?" TZZZAAAP) But whether it is the return of the Cowboy Way or the limitations of the salary cap, he hasn't made any stupid moves to this point. I just wish I could trust him to stay the course.
CHANCE OF JJ BEING A PROBLEM: 40% Last week: 40%
As you can see here, even though I have a lot of hope for this season, I do acknowledge that there are difficulties to overcome. My hope is to see these all at 10% or 20% by the end of the season.
That's it until next time.