Cowboys 24th in ESPN Future Power Rankings (Insider)


Roster: Stalwarts such as Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff will be gone three years from now and even guys like Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher and Miles Austin could be less than effective. But the Cowboys do have potential stars in Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Tyron Smith, Morris Claiborne and Dez Bryant to carry the torch. The Cowboys do need to do a better job of reinforcing the bottom half of their roster, though. -- Williamson Quarterback: Tony Romo's new contract removes any doubt about the Cowboys' plans at the position for the coming years. How long will the coaching staff last? Romo will be 36 years old in 2016 (Roger Staubach produced at a high level until he retired at age 37, for reference). Romo has played too well too frequently for his big-game struggles to continue forever. If you're going to brand him as lacking in the clutch department, which tends to be more about narrative than substance, at least note that he ranks fourth behind Peyton Manning, Rodgers and Brees in fourth-quarter Total QBR since 2008 (69.9). The Cowboys are taking welcome steps to address their offensive line, which should help. -- Sando Draft: The Cowboys manage to puzzle me at least once every year during the draft, be it with a questionable pick based on either need or value. This year, it happened in Round 1, when they took a player (Travis Frederick) I thought would be available 30 picks later. Dallas is another team that hasn't been terrible, but simply doesn't find diamonds in the rough. A little luck would help, but it also makes me question if they're casting a wide enough net in evaluating. -- Kiper Front office: This is a franchise constantly in search of a playoff berth, but burdened with unrealistic perception and expectations. Jason Garrett and his offensive staff have done a nice job considering the poor state of the offensive line. That area must improve if the Cowboys are to contend. The switch to the Monte Kiffin Tampa 2, will take about a half season to effectuate. Look for this team to improve as the season goes on. -- Polian Coaching: Garrett is still learning how to be a coach, going into his third full season in Dallas. This is a defining year for him. Dallas has enough pieces to move the chains, but will Bill Callahan be patient enough and run the football? This team is built to win right now, and if it doesn't, Garrett could pay the price with his job. -- Edwards