Cowboys Are So Close But Far Away From Super Bowl


 The Dallas Cowboys went from a Super Bowl contender to a team with more questions than answers.

On paper, the Cowboys look like they are primed to win a Super Bowl, especially when Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo is healthy and starting. When Romo is running the show, the Cowboys are a hard team to beat. Romo’s presence seems to make everything run smoother, even on the defensive side of the ball.

Romo knows how to engineer a 14-play, game-winning drive. In fact, he has more fourth quarter comebacks (25) than any other quarterback since 2008. We all agree Romo makes the Cowboys a complete team, even more so when he’s playing with other stars and Pro Bowlers.

The Pro Bowlers and stars I’m referring to are offensive linemen Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, La’el Collins, wide receiver Dez Bryant, and tight end Jason Witten. Role players play a significant role too, like wideouts Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and running back Lance Dunbar.

The defensive side of the ball boasts linebackers Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, defensive linemen Demarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory. Jeremy Mincey, Nick Hayden, and versatile defensive back Byron Jones.

Most of these players were on the Cowboys team last season. More importantly, all of these players were on the Dallas’ roster opening day, although Hardy didn’t play until week five after serving his four game suspension. And all of these players were supposed to help owner/general manager/egotistical Jerry Jones lift his first Lombardi trophy in 20 years.

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Everyone expected it, and here is why.

When the Cowboys ended their highly successful 2014 season, Dallas was believed to be the front runners to participate in Super Bowl 50. The Cowboys finished the regular season 12-4, won the NFC East crown, went 8-0 on the road, and beat the Detroit Lions in the playoffs.

Wide receiver Bryant led all wideouts with 16 receiving touchdowns, Dallas still boasted the best offensive line in football, drafted versatile defensive back Jones in the first round, and had first round grades on two other rookies, defensive end Randy Gregory and offensive lineman Collins.

The Cowboys had fixed or addressed every issue that plagued them in 2014, most notably their pass rush. The haunting scene of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers beating them on one leg was enough for the Cowboys to draft mostly defensive linemen. The Cowboys also signed troubled free-agent sack machine Hardy to make sure no more one-legged quarterbacks would ever beat them again.

All of this drafting and signings meant a championship run was in the making.

We all know that won’t happen because of a season-ending injury to Romo and Bryant missing five games because of a broken foot. It’s been down hill ever since. Backup quarterbacks, Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel, won a combined one game as starting quarterbacks and now the Cowboys are playing free-agent, third-stringer QB, Kellen Moore.

Moore has an early audition on earning the backup quarterback position for next season. If he’s really good, he could be Romo’s successor one day. Right now we’ll focus on the former instead of the latter.

However, the backup quarterback position isn’t the only problem with the Cowboys.

As much talent as this Cowboys team has, and for all of the Super Bowl aspirations heaped upon them (rightfully so), they have a long way to go. Romo’s absence revealed that not only do the Cowboys need his future replacement, it showed that the Cowboys were weak in other areas, most notably the defensive tackle position. The Cowboys need a one-technique guy who can clog up the middle because Nick Hayden isn’t the answer.

Other positions were exposed, too, like the safety positions and cornerback positions. Safety J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church aren’t good safeties, no matter how you look at it. Church might be slightly better than Wilcox but both are liabilities in coverage and take bad angles on tackles.

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Brandon Carr and former first round pick Morris Claiborne are playing better this season but neither one has an interception this year. That’s all you need to know about these two impostors. It’s really sad when a practice squad player, Terrance Mitchell has more interceptions (1) in one game than the two veterans collected all season.

Mitchell had the audacity to get his first career interception in his first career start for the Cowboys, and he did it by just playing proper zone defense and simply taking advantage of an opportunity that the others never could.

The one position I believed to be the Cowboys strong suit really isn’t strong at all: the wide receiver position. Williams was supposed to step up his game when Bryant was out. He was supposed to play like a number one receiver.

Williams played so inconsistent that the Cowboys will be looking to upgrade at the wideout position. Williams was inconsistent with dropped passes and bad route running. One play he looked like he belonged in the NFL, the next play he looked like he was playing for a church league.

His inconsistency is one of the reasons the Cowboys lost seven games in a row. With Williams playing as if he were in Pop Warner football, opposing defenses were able to stack the box and dare Weeden and Cassel to beat them (which wasn’t hard to do). As a result, Jason Witten became the primary receiving threat.

Devin Street didn’t do much better. In fact, I’ll be surprise if makes the team next year. His play is on par with being a bust or a wasted fifth round pick, another project gone bad.

The linebacking corps could use some depth, with McClain set to be a free-agent at the end of the season. The linebacking positions appears to to be the most solid and stable on the defensive side of the ball.

Next: Cowboys: What If DE Greg Hardy Isn't Resigned?

Since the Cowboys need to address so many key positions (starting with the quarterback position) in the upcoming draft, they’re not sure when they’ll make another Super Bowl run.

That’s because the Dallas Cowboys are so close, but yet so far away.