The Dallas Cowboys are a team that can accomplish something great this season. As displayed against the Rams, the Cowboys are able to be explosive and dominant in every facet of the game as long as they’re clicking.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, things aren’t always clicking.
For every “pro” the Cowboys can list, there is a “con.” For a team that has Super Bowl aspirations, they are far from complete. The regular season is quickly approaching and there are still questions to be answered.
To me, there are four main concerns that the Cowboys have. They are legitimate and could directly impact the success of their season. If these concerns aren’t answered or remedied soon, it could lead to a melt down.
Lets take a closer look:
Phil Costa has missed virtually the whole preseason. He is slated to be back and for some that would provide some hope. For me, however, it doesn’t instill any confidence. Costa is, at best, a slightly above-average center. He has trouble with snaps and isn’t a true impact blocker.
Costa’s backup, Kevin Kowalski, has also been injured. Again, when he’s been able to play he hasn’t been stellar either. That leaves us with David Arkin who, for all intents and purposes, is just learning to play center.
That doesn’t leave me feeling good.
The Cowboys need stability on the offensive line. If Costa can’t come back and be effective, it will impact every part of the offensive game plan. Tony Romo will be under more pressure, DeMarco Murray will have trouble getting any yardage up the middle and the rest of the offensive line will falter as well.
This is a big problem that’s going to need more than a Band-Aid to fix. Jerry Jones chose to ignore the center position in the draft and this is what he gets. Until Jerry understands the importance of offensive lineman, this is going to be a recurring theme.
Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr look to be a dominant tandem for the Cowboys this year. They showed that ability against St. Louis Saturday night. I watched them both closely and they looked like they just couldn’t be beaten. That will go a long way to improve a depleted unit from last season.
When Claiborne was drafted, the idea was that the Cowboys would have one of the deepest defensive backfields in the league. Rotating in starting-caliber players Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick to keep the defense fresh.
Four weeks into the preseason, there has been nothing more than a sighting of Mike Jenkins, and Orlando Scandrick hasn’t been overly exciting.
The Cowboys have spent a lot of money and put a lot of faith into this rotation's success. Jenkins needs to get healthy and buy into what Dallas is doing. If he can he will still be a major part of this defense.
Without Jenkins, the Cowboys are left with Scandrick and Mario Butler. Butler is a good player but he’s no Mike Jenkins. To me, Scandrick is strictly a slot corner and if Claiborne or Carr got injured it would be Butler who would move into the outside role.
The secondary may be improved but it isn’t complete. There is still a lot to watch here and a lot of concern behind Mo and Carr.
Jason Witten? Spleen laceration. Jay Ratliff? High ankle sprain. Miles Austin? Bad hamstrings. DeMarcus Ware? Hamstring injury.
The list is actually even longer.
This isn’t a good sign for a team who relies so much on its core players. There are a lot of questions about what will happen to the Cowboys if they can’t get these players healthy.
Saturday at St. Louis calmed the storm a little, largely because of what Tony Romo is able to do on a football field. However, the problem isn’t going away. These players are key to what the offense does and they need to get healthy and contribute.
The biggest concern is that there isn’t anyone who can match the production of a Jason Witten or DeMarcus Ware. These are once in a generation type players who can’t just be replaced in an offseason.
There needs to be focus on getting these guys back healthy and not rushing them on the field. I’d rather have Austin, Ware and Witten miss Week 1 than risk further injury. The Cowboys need to be smart here and make sure they aren’t jeopardizing the whole season.
Third Wide Receiver
It’s almost a broken record at this point. “Who will be the Cowboys' third receiver?”
The point is that no one has emerged yet and that’s not good. That means that no one is exceeding the standard level of play and we’re pretty far into the game.
Dwayne Harris had an excellent game against the Rams, but has been less than stellar throughout the preseason.
Kevin Ogletree is the front-runner, but we’ve seen all this before from him. He’s the same guy who was the third receiver last year and caused the Cowboys to look at Laurent Robinson because he couldn’t get the job done.
Cole Beasley is the most consistent receiver in terms of making plays. He catches everything around him and plays with heart. His knock? He’s a small receiver who can only play the slot. There’s a problem there since the Cowboys prefer to play Austin in the slot.
We’re in week four of the preseason and we haven’t even solved one of the very first problems identified by the organization. The reason is because no one is playing consistent football.
Until someone steps up, it’s going to keep being a carousel of receivers who continually disappoint. When you think of the production lost with the departure of Laurent Robinson, you realize how important this position is.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys don’t seem to see the same urgency.
I am the ultimate optimist. I feel like everything is going to work itself out in every bad situation. In this instance though, I find myself baffled. These are legitimate concerns for a Cowboys team with lofty goals.
For now, we just watch and hope that these concerns rectify themselves but if they don’t, and that’s not a very big “if,” then we could witness a very ugly season in Dallas.
However, I digress and maintain my optimism—that somehow, someway, the Cowboys are going to get past these concerns and have a very special season.
At least, I’m hoping they do…