Dallas Cowboys Preseason Report 2012: Offense Vs Defense

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I wanted to take a minute and do my first Cowboys preseason report, which will examine both the offense and the defense. I will also include my list of who I think will be the best players in 2012. One list will be the veterans, the other will be the young guys. The list is by no means in any type of order, it’s just the guys who I think are currently the best on the team in each category. Granted, among the young  guys, they may not all be starters, but this is based purely on what I saw on tape.

The Cowboys should be pretty solid on defense this year. They have a lot of  up and coming young talent that can rush the passer. Combine that with the upgrades in the secondary and the depth at LB and there should be no real concerns there. Currently the defense is ranked 8th in points allowed, allowing 14 per game (0 in the 1st game), 9th in yards against, allowing only 265.4 per game, 14th against the pass, allowing 194.5 per game, and 4th against the run only allowing 71.0 per game. As a whole, they are ranked 9th overall in the NFL. If you look at the fact that their starters on defense never allowed a point, it suggests they could be at least top 5 in the NFL.

The biggest concern is the offensive line (OL). I spent the entire week studying the OL play of a lot of the teams around the league, and it made it obvious that the Cowboys are weak on the OL. A lot of teams have better players as backups than the Cowboys have as starters. You know a team has depth when 1st round draft pick Riley Reiff is not a starter. With the exception of Tyron Smith, the Cowboys have all undrafted free agents and late round picks as starters.

The Cowboys will face some of the NFL’s best pass-rushers this year, including:  the New York Giants twice, Philadelphia twice (NFL leaders in team sacks in 2011 and they improved the pass rush even more this year with the additions of Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry), Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Chicago, just to name a few. Unless Jerry Jones  and Jason Garret wise up and recognize this problem, they can forget about a running game, or Tony Romo staying healthy.

"With the current OL,  a 6-10 season seems realistic for the Cowboys. The Raiders are not a top team in the NFL. The fact that the Cowboys were unable to put up more than 3 points against them, as well as the way the defense played, is a scary thought."

It’s like a trip down memory lane when Wade Phillips’ defense was solid and Garrett’s offense couldn’t run the ball (currently ranked 28th in the league in rushing) and his erratic play calling resulted in multiple 3 and outs(currently they are 5/23 on 3rd down). I find it amusing that Wade went to Houston and had the #2 ranked defense in the entire NFL, converting a 4-3 to a 3-4 in a lockout year. The result (much like last year) is by the 4th qtr, the defense was wore out. The bottom line is, 18 out of 23 possessions, the defense only got a 3 play rest.

It’s easy to say Garret wants a balanced offense, but when you consider that Romo threw 31 TDs and all of our RBs combined for 4 TDs in 2011, you can see that there is no balance at all. In fact, currently, the Cowboys are only averaging 67.5 rushing yards per game (49ers 189, Detroit 182 and Seattle 181.5). The sad part is, the 1st team hasn’t logged a single rushing TD ( Murray and Jones combined for 26 yds and only averaged 2.6 yds per carry) and as a whole team, the Cowboys have one rushing TD. It is impossible to be successful in the NFL when you can’t pound the ball into the endzone.

"Nov 6, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys ring of honoree Larry Allen smiles during the halftime ceremony from the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE These are supposed to be experts, but even a neophyte like me can clearly see that until there is a solid offensive line, there will be no balance on offense. It is the key to Tony having the time to make good reads and move the ball down field, and it is also the key to a solid running game."

Why the experts can’t figure this out is perplexing and even frustrating at times. When I watch teams like the New Orleans Saints play, I get sick to my stomach. Sean Payton gets it. Jerry Jones should have never let him walk out the door. Maybe JG should spend a week with him (carrying a notebook)and learn the concept of a “REAL” balanced offense, clock management, etc. Jimmy Johnson and Tom Landry both understood that it all starts up front. Until these people in Dallas grasp that concept it will be another 16 yrs of mediocrity.