The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2012 off-season with many personnel issues to address. Some of these needs, (pass rush, cornerback, offensive line), are more glaring than others. In order for the Cowboys to return to the glory of America’s Team, and the glory Eli Manning has now reached twice, the Cowboys need to address the small needs just as much as the glaring ones.
The Giants proved by beating the New England Patriots that a complete team is needed to win the Super Bowl. A team needs to be efficient in every aspect of the game; offense, defense and special teams. There may be more important needs for the Cowboys to address this off-season, but in order to become a complete team that can contend for the Super Bowl, they need to address these needs as well.
Current Player – Tony Fiammetta
Fact: running the ball is easier with more blockers. Remember the years of Daryl Johnston leading the way for Emmitt Smith? Look at Vonta Leach opening holes for Ray Rice. Fullback is a crucial position for a football team, and the Cowboys have mostly ignored it since Johnston. The Cowboys have tried to utilize undrafted free agents at fullback for far too long.
Tony Fiammetta entered the 2009 draft as one of the top fullback prospects and he finally showed some of that talent in 2011. Fiammetta could be the long-term solution for the Cowboys.
Fiammetta led the way for DeMarco Murray in the Rams, Seahawks and Bills games. In all three of those games Murray ran for over 130 yards. However, Fiammetta only played in ten games due mostly to a mystery illness. Fiammetta has also battled concussions issues with the Panthers.
Can the Cowboys rely on Fiammetta’s health? Or should the Cowboys look for an establish run blocker to led the way in 2012?
Current Player – Stephen McGee
If Tony Romo goes to the bench for an extended period of time in 2012, the season is probably over. There are few backup quarterbacks who have been able to lead a team to Super Bowl; and the Super Bowl is the Cowboys’ goal every season.
Most backup quarterbacks cannot sustain the necessary level of success for their team to reach the playoffs. The Cowboys do not need the next Tom Brady, or Kurt Warner on the bench but they do need someone who can fill in and sustain a lead.
With Jon Kitna’s retirement, can Stephen McGee become that reliable quarterback off the bench? Or should the Cowboys look to sign a veteran backup such as Kyle Orton, or David Garrard?
Current Player – Dwayne Harris/Felix Jones
If the Cowboys plan on using DeMarco Murray as the lead back in 2012 and feature Felix Jones as a kick returner and change-of-pace back, this may not be a position of need. Jones has been effective in that role before, and he showed he can still be explosive with that 69 yard return in 2011.
If the Cowboys plan on splitting carries between Murray and Jones, then the Cowboys need to find an explosive kick returner. Returners create field position for the offensive, spark momentum and make scoring points much easier.
Maybe Dwayne Harris can be that explosive returner the Cowboys need. He showed some flashes in 2011, but there is always room for some healthy competition. If Jones isn’t going to be involved in the return game in 2012, the Cowboys would benefit from using a day three draft pick on a guy like Jeff Demps. Two explosive kick returners are always better than one.
Current Player – Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant should not be in this role next season. Bryant needs to develop into a premier receiver in the NFL. Bryant needs to focus all of his practice time into becoming an elite receiver, not splitting his practice time between returning and receiving. In addition, the Cowboys cannot afford another Bryant injury while he is returning.
Fielding punts is extremely difficult as Kyle Williams proved this post-season. Dwayne Harris might be able to take over for Bryant but the Cowboys need to make sure they have an answer at punt returner.
Bryant should no longer be an option, and the Cowboys need to look outside of their roster for a play-making talent. The San Francisco 49ers traded a 5th round pick for Ted Ginn Jr. and gave their team a tremendous boost in special teams.
The Cowboys should take notice and find a player who can spark their team by returning punts without jeopardizing Bryant’s career as a receiver.
Current Players – Martellus Bennett, John Philips
The Cowboys have a long history of great tight ends. From Mike Ditka to Jay Novacek to Jason Witten, the Cowboys have always been ahead of the rest of the NFL in realizing the mismatches a tight end can create in the passing game.
The Cowboys even attempted to create a dynamic duo before the Patriots’ Gronk and Hernandez tandem when they selected Martellus Bennett in the 2nd round in 2008. Bennett just has not achieved the success the Cowboys had in mind for him.
Creating mismatches is the goal of every offensive coordinator and a second tight end would give Tony Romo another weapon to spread the ball around to. The tight end position is quickly becoming a glamorous position in the NFL and the Cowboys need to stay ahead of the curve by finding a second talented tight end to pair with Jason Witten.