As an Eagles Fan it pains me to say that I believe the Dallas Cowboys will make the playoffs as a Wild-Card pick this year.
Wild Card vs. Division?
Last year we saw the Cowboys almost make it to the postseason but fail to show up for the Week 17 game where the Eagles thrashed the Cowboys 44-6 (stings doesn't it?). People have blamed that on locker room chemistry, poor offensive planning on the part of Jason Garrett, a complete lack of defense, and the fact that the Eagles were simply the better team that day.I think those problems have been fixed.
Locker Room Chemistry
There is no doubt about it that T.O. divides a locker room. He divided my locker room after the 2004 season leading the Eagles to a 6-10 record. Even Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones' heir, had this to say about T.O:
"It's hard to take over leadership when you've got a strong personality like Terrell,” Jones said. "If you look back at our old teams [from the 1990s], a lot of people would say maybe Michael [Irvin] was the leader. Then you might say, 'He was a receiver. What about Troy [Aikman]? He was the quarterback. Wasn't he the leader?' And the answer is, yeah, Troy was a leader. But if Michael wasn't supportive of him, Troy would've had problems."
"A lot of our players thought the world of Terrell -- they still do. They loved the way he prepared and how hard he played, and everybody respected his skills and what he'd done in the league. And with him here, I think he was always going to carry that kind of weight."
The Cowboys have acknowledged the fact that T.O. took leadership ability directly out of Tony Romo's hands and they fixed that with his release. Romo has had an offseason to build trust with his receivers (Roy Williams in particular) and earn the respect of everyone else. I think he has.
Several reports have been coming out of Dallas that Jason Garrett has a fire lit under him. Last offseason he could be seen during OTA's silently watching the offense, calling out the plays that needed to be read, and occasionally calling out a bad play. Not anymore! This year Garrett has been seen openly yelling at players and challenging their abilities. Garrett is finally on top of and holding accountable his players, like an offensive coordinator should be.
I also think the offense won't just fade out of some games like they did last year. With Felix Jones, Marion Barber, and Tashard Choice solidifying the backfield, the Cowboys will be able to lean on their running game while Romo continues to establish his relationship with his receivers.
Wade Philips has taken over the defensive play calling. While I don't like Wade Phillips as a head coach (he has never won a post season game EVER) I think he is a solid defensive mind. He will be able to make the necessary defensive calls to keep offenses on their toes. The only problem I have with their defense is the lack of Roy Williams and Greg Ellis. I understand that the Cowboys wanted to get younger at the position, but those two veterans kept experience on the defense and were still in completely capable playing condition.
So why not the Super Bowl?
There still remain some doubts with the Dallas Cowboys: The Romo-Williams relationship (it's getting better, but it has a long way to go), whether or not Wade Philips can handle both the defensive coordinator and head coaching jobs, and their tendancy to dwindle in December. There is plenty of room for error in my predictions, but the Cowboys have the talent to make it to the post season.
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