While some teams aspire to a playoff berth, and other teams just hope to land more than a goose egg in the win column, the Dallas Cowboys are year-in and year-out a Super Bowl-or-Bust team. The 2009 Dallas Cowboys are no exception to this rule.
And for good reason.
Tony Romo and Jason Witten are a dangerous quarterback-tight end tandem, while Marion Barber III, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice are a three-headed monster in the backfield. And while Roy Williams has taken the brunt of fan and media pessimism this off-season, he is still a major playmaker among the receivers.
Given the number of weapons available, the Cowboys' offense will be able to exploit defenses by spreading the ball around and creating mismatches. This will lead to a potent offense able to score at any point on the field.
But the Cowboys are not merely a finesse team. Their offense has balance in bruising running back Marion Barber III and one of the biggest offensive lines in football. While the passing game will score the early points, it will be the power running game that finishes ballgames.
On the opposite side of the ball, the league's eighth ranked defense should be even better in 2009. Strangely enough, this improvement is due to the firing of their defensive coordinator and their lack of hiring a replacement. This puts Wade Phillips in charge of the defense. Long hailed as a defensive guru, his increased involvement with the defense in the latter half of 2008 really showed in the games.
And he will certainly have his work cut out for him. The Cowboys will be missing Roy Williams, Anthony Henry, Chris Canty, Kevin Burnett, and likely Greg Ellis among others, which means players like 2007 first-round draft pick Anthony Spencer will really need to step up.
On special teams, the biggest improvement will come in getting punter Mat McBriar back from injury. The special teams should also improve under new coach Joe DeCamillis and a new commitment to special teams demonstrated by the Cowboys picking up kicker David Buehler in the fifth-round of the draft as a possible kickoff specialist.
Unfortunately, all of the talent in the world won't keep Tony Romo upright if the offensive line doesn't block for him. While there is plenty of blame to spread around for a dismal 2008 season, the cornerstone of the blame lies with lackluster play from the offensive line. Often deemed one of the best in the NFL, the Cowboys' line lacked anything resembling consistency in 2008.
And if the Cowboys are to reach their "Super Bowl or Bust" goal in 2009, they are going to need the offensive line to play well. They share a division with three of the best defenses in the NFL, so keeping Tony Romo upright and healthy is a big priority.