During the offseason, the Dallas Cowboys made a few waves by trading up to draft former LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne in the first round with the sixth pick. Back in March, the Cowboys signed at least six free agents and released a number of players who played a role in the Cowboys' success.
Dallas also did a lot to address its issues in the secondary, something that was a serious problem for the team in 2011. Team owner Jerry Jones attempted to improve the team's less-than-stellar offensive line by signing no less than six offensive linemen, proving that Jones wanted postseason success, and he wanted it now.
But what have these signings and picks done for Dallas so far this season? The Cowboys are an average 8-7 with a chance to make the playoffs, a position the team was in last season as well.
Can Jones honestly say that his offseason signings have given the team the type of improvements he looked for? Well, that's what I'm here for, to prognosticate and judge everything the Cowboys do.
As the Cowboys prepare for their showdown with the Washington Redskins on Sunday night, let's take a look at each free agent and draft pick currently on the roster who has failed to live up to what the Cowboys expected of them.
During the Cowboys' spending spree back in March, Jones signed Mackenzy Bernadeau to a four-year contract worth $11 million.
Bernadeau wasn’t supposed to anchor the ‘Boys line, but he was an upgrade.
I don’t think that Bernadeau has been a total disappointment, but his season hasn’t gone as well as many had hoped.
For a player to emerge from a backup role on his previous team, turn into a starter with the next, then sign such a lucrative contract, Dallas was hoping for better results.
The Cowboys offensive line has been a problem for them all season. Sure, they have played better as of late, but it’s not what Jones wanted when he invested so much this past offseason.
Like Bernadeau, Nate Livings was signed this offseason to a pretty nice contract—a five-year deal worth $18.7 million.
Livings has had a decent year for Dallas, giving up six sacks right before the Cincinnati Bengals game, but performing pretty strong in run blocking.
I have no reason to believe that Livings will be released due to bad performance, but I also expect the Cowboys to look to improve at the guard position.
For his contract, $6.2 million guaranteed, Livings was expected to perform better.
Last year, former Cowboys fullback Tony Fiammetta was compared to another former Cowboys fullback, Daryl Johnston, by Jerry Jones.
Jones went so far as to say that Fiammetta was the team’s best fullback since “Moose” left the team.
But things didn’t work out, and Fiammetta didn’t return. So, to fill the hole due to his absence, the Cowboys signed Lawrence Vickers.
Vickers hasn’t been as good as Fiammetta. In an article last year talking about how the Cowboys were having success in the running game, I gave a breakdown of what Fiammetta did so well.
He isn’t having a bad year, but he’s not having a great one either. He has 12 receptions for just 93 yards and has been known to miss a key block here or there.
Vickers' contract is only for two years and $2.4 million, so if Jones wants to try to upgrade, releasing him wouldn’t represent a huge lose for the team.
At the top of the year, the Cowboys named former Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Garrett would still call the plays, but Callahan would hold the title.
He was also brought in to replace longtime offensive line coach Hudson Houck, who decided to retire after almost 30 years in the league.
When the Cowboys struggled to protect Romo last season, and open holes for Murray and Jones, Houck was criticized for not doing enough to improve play along the line.
Callahan is having the same type of struggles as Houck, and just like Houck, Callahan is dealing with a young line dealing with injuries.
But one has to wonder if the season-long struggles of tackle Doug Free contributed to Callahan's inability to fix Free's technique problems. Then again, Free hasn't been the same player since he signed his $32 million contract, so all of his issues can't be matched to Callahan.
Tyrone Crawford was drafted in the third round by the Cowboys with hopes of him turning into an eventual pass-rushing threat.
He did so well in mini and training camps that some said he was exceeding expectations.
But when the real season started and the Cowboys line started to go down with injuries, we still haven’t seen much of the young fellow.
He has 18 total tackles, no sacks and a few quarterback pressures and hits. I didn’t expect Crawford to turn into a beast his first year in the league, but I thought he would have more of a defensive impact.
James Hanna wasn’t picked until the sixth round, but I thought he would have a pretty good rookie season. With Jason Witten’s slow start due to a lacerated spleen, many thought Hanna and backup John Phillips would be decent fill-ins.
But Witten returned pretty quickly and eventually broke the single-season tight end all-time reception record.
So the opportunities for Hanna have been limited. For the year, Hanna has five receptions for 66 yards, a few less than Phillips, but he does have more yards.
Hanna isn’t a disappointment; I just thought he would have more of an impact.
Expect a better showing from the young tight end in 2013.