"I think the team will be about as good as it was a year ago, and that may be plenty to win the East, but I don't know if they have moved up to Seattle's or Green Bay's level just yet."
Dallas fans recognize that both Green Bay and Seattle are two of the biggest obstacles in the NFC for Dallas, but does that mean the Cowboys are not at their level? Here is why the Cowboys will be a better team than the Green Bay Packers in 2015.
To begin with, let’s take a look at last year’s NFC Divisional game. While this was a good back and forth game that was evenly matched, the Cowboys missed a lot of opportunities.
Early in the third quarter, Julius Peppers knocked the ball out of DeMarco Murray’s hand at our 40 yard line. If Murray secures the ball better, he is off and running. I’m not saying that he automatically scores on that play because he doesn’t have Joe Randle speed, but he should easily scamper off into Bailey range before getting caught from behind. But instead, the Packers get good field position and turn that fumble into a FG of their own. The Packers made a great play, but a Cowboys miscue squandered a great opportunity to get more points.
With four minutes left in the third quarter C.J. Spillman made a great hit on Randall Cobb popping the ball loose during a kickoff return. Several Cowboys players were in position to make the recovery, but it just didn’t happen. The Packers were extremely fortunate to get the ball back. If the Cowboys recovered that fumble and turned it into points, especially a TD, the Packers would be trailing by 15 points late in the 3rd and the dynamic of the game would have changed.
James Hanna was so close to recovering the ball.
And there’s more stuff:
- Two plays later Aaron Rodgers overthrew Davante Adams and the ball went through J.J. Wilcox’s hands. That would have given the Cowboys the ball in Packers territory. Instead, Green Bay continued the drive and scored a TD.
- Dan Bailey missed a FG which turned into a Packers FG late in the first half. Another six-point swing.
- And then of course we all know about the Dez catch. I’d show a picture, but if you haven’t seen it already, you probably don’t have internet.
I could analyze all these woulda-coulda’s until I’m blue in the face. Green Bay made the plays, so they earned the right to move on. But when I look past the results it is not hard for me to believe that the Cowboys were good enough to beat the Packers in that game.
But that is all in the past. The question is – how do we compare now? So what’s changed?
|Key Adds||Key Losses|
|FS, Damarious Randall (1st round, Arizona State)||LB, A.J. Hawk ()|
|CB, Quinten Rollins (2nd round, Miami OH)||CB, ( )|
|WR, (3rd , Stanford)||CB, ( )|
I like Ty Montgomery, but I was surprised he went that early and even more surprised he was selected by Green Bay. The Packers like dabbling early in WR picks to find more weapons for Aaron Rodgers. Last year’s second-round pick, Davante Adams, showed a glimpse of playmaking ability, especially against the Cowboys in the playoffs.The Packers secondary took a hit as they lost two starting-caliber corners. Tramon Williams got $21 mil (three years) from Cleveland and Davon House got $24.75 mil (four years) from Jacksonville. Green Bay looked to the draft for replacements as they took DBs with their first two picks.
And then there’s Dallas.
|Key Adds||Key Losses|
|DE,||RB, ( )|
|CB, (1nd round, UConn)||LB, ( )|
|DE, (2nd round, Nebraska)||LB, ( )|
|OL, La’el Collins (UDFA, LSU)|
Most of what determines how well the Cowboys did in the off-season will hinge on what happens with the running game. There is quite a wide range of opinions about how that is all going to play out, but I feel confident in this statement – if the collective production of the RB committee can be somewhat close to 2014, the team as a whole is going to be in great shape.
Greg Hardy, when he’s playing, will have a strong impact.
The Cowboys added a couple athletic defenders early in the draft to help strengthen a couple areas of concerns.
And Sean Lee returns. While he’s not a new acquisition, his services are still something the team didn’t have last season. When he’s playing, he will have a strong impact.
There are many other things that factor into the growth or regression of a team, but skimming off the surface – how do you think each team did?
A lot is made about the Cowboys defense holding them back, but the Packers are right there with them.
The defenses were pretty comparable in all the main categories. The only real difference is that Green Bay did a lot better sacking the quarterback, but the Cowboys defense should close this gap in 2015. With the new additions of Hardy and Gregory, plus the improvements of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford, the Cowboys should field an improved defensive line. Both teams boosted their secondary with early draft investments, but Green Bay also dug themselves a hole when the lost two defensive backs in free agency. Since the NFC Divisional game the Cowboys have made better strides in improving the defense.
Which team do you think is better now?
Next, a look at how the Cowboys compare to the reigning NFC Champions, Seattle Seahawks.