How desperate are the Cowboys, really?
In this scheme, the defensive coaches want their guys to play with more speed and quickness, which is right down the alley for Ratliff. There is a reason that Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett never wavered about Ratliff coming back for this 2013 [season] despite the legal problem he faces in the coming months. He was built to play in this scheme.
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsJay Ratliff is part of a talented nucleus in Dallas that should contend for the NFC East title again this fall.
Then that got me thinking that Ratliff isn't exactly alone on the roster. On the defensive side of the ball, DeMarcus Ware is an excellent player. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are very good. Linebacker Sean Lee is outstanding, and fellow linebacker Bruce Carter sure looked headed that way last season before his injury. Jason Hatcher was excellent last season, and so was Anthony Spencer, whether he's worth his $10.6 million franchise tender or not.
On offense, the Cowboys have excellent players at quarterback, tight end and both starting wide receiver spots. They have a very good running back and left tackle. Can you find fault with any or all of these players? Sure. But on balance, I just gave you 14 starting positions at which the Cowboys are at least above average, and in several cases much better.
|Calvin Watkins joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to talk about Martellus Bennett's progression since he left the Cowboys, the definition of a Tony Romo apologist and the Cowboys' salary cap situation. |
Now, of course they need work. I'm not naive. I know they've been 8-8 each of the past two seasons. I know the offensive line is a wreck, that they have question marks at safety, and that depth is an issue in spots. I know they need to find another starting linebacker to go with Lee and Carter. And yes, of course I know about Tony Romo's reputation for playing small in big spots. All of that stuff is true. I just think it's too easy too often for Cowboys fans to get negative about the way they perceive their team, and I don't think it's all doom and gloom there in Dallas.
Each of the past two seasons, they made it to the final game with a chance to win the division. By definition, that's a contending team, and as close to being a playoff team as one can get. They must improve in spots, most notably the offensive line, or it's going to be hard to believe they can make any big leap forward. But I don't agree with the perception that they're in big trouble because they were hamstrung this week in free agency. I think there are a lot of very good players on the Cowboys' roster who, if properly supported by a good draft and some smart free-agent bargain hunting, can make this a competitive team in 2013, just as it was in 2011 and 2012.
I think that's worth keeping in mind, is all.
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Play Podcast Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he saw at the Cowboys' rookie minicamp and how he helped Rod Marinelli on the defensive side of the ball.
Play Podcast Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he took away from the Dallas Cowboys' rookie minicamp.