With a disappointing loss to the Giants, coming off of the 13-3 regular season, the Cowboys figured to be just as dangerous in 2008.
And at the beginning of the season, it looked like they were going to live up to the billing. The Cowboys started the season 4-1 and looked just as potent on offense as they did a year before that.
Following the loss, in an effort to keep the offense going and make it even more potent would Romo would return, the Cowboys would complete a rare midseason trade with Detroit to bring talented receiver Roy Williams over to Big D.
Romo would return in time for Dallas to run off 3 straight wins and be in the thick of a very competitive NFC Wild Card race.
But when the Cowboys were sitting at 8-4, the distractions that doomed this team a season ago would resurface when anonymous reports would come out about Terrell Owens having rifts with teammates.
It was a very disappointing finish to a season that began with so much promise and no shortage of hope.
The season also wasted one of the best individual efforts by a defensive player in recent memory as DeMarcus Ware recorded 84 tackles, 20 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles in 2008.
But this was a microcosm of the Cowboys season in a nutshell.
And in the end, it left the Cowboys well shy of their lofty expectations.
DE Chris Canty (NY Giants)
DE Greg Ellis (Oakland)
DT Tank Johnson (Cincinnati)
CB Anthony Henry (Traded to Detroit)
S Roy Williams (Cincinnati)
CB Pacman Jones (Unsigned)
LB Zach Thomas (Kansas City)
S Keith Davis (Oakland)
LB Kevin Burnett (San Diego)
TE Tony Curtis (Kansas City)
G Joe Berger (Miami)
3-75. Robert Brewster, OT, Ball State
4-101. Stephen McGee, QB, Texas A&M
4-110. Victor Butler, DE/OLB, Oregon State
4-120. Brandon Williams, DE/OLB, Texas Tech
5-143. DeAngelo Smith, CB, Cincinnati
5-166. Michael Hamlin, S, Clemson
5-172. David Buehler, K, USC
6-197. Stephen Hodge, SS/OLB, TCU
6-208. John Phillips, TE, Virginia
7-227. Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati
7-229. Manuel Johnson, WR, Oklahoma
With Owens gone, the Cowboys hope the circus that comes with him with leave town as well.
With that being said, Phillips will inherit a roster that looks noticeably different from a year ago, and it's not just the departure of Owens.
The defense will once again revolve around one of the most complete players in football in DeMarcus Ware.
In the secondary, the Cowboys will be led by Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins at the cornerback position. At safety, Dallas will start Ken Hamlin and free-agent acquisition Gerald Sensabaugh. Draft pick Michael Hamlin (no relation to Ken) will provide depth at the position with Pat Watkins.
Offensively, the keys to the Cowboys and subsequently the spotlight will be turned over to Tony Romo. With Terrell Owens now in Buffalo, Dallas hopes to get a much better season out of the other Roy Williams, who struggled mightily in his first season as a Cowboy.
In the running game, the Cowboys discovered they have three solid tailbacks following injuries last season. Marion Barber will once again be the starter but will rotate with explosive back Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Once again, the Cowboy offensive line will be highlighted by big Flozell Adams and Leonard Davis.
|Sun 9/13||at Tampa Bay|
|Sun 9/20||NY Giants|
|Sun 10/4||at Denver|
|Sun 10/11||at Kansas City|
|Sun 11/8||at Philadelphia|
|Sun 11/15||at Green Bay|
|Sun 12/6||at NY Giants|
|Sun 12/13||San Diego|
|Sat 12/19||at New Orleans|
|Sun 12/27||at Washington|
Dallas definitely did one thing very well in the offseason; they upgraded the team's chemistry and got rid of many of the main sources of their distractions the past two seasons.
With that being said, there are still fair questions about the play of Tony Romo when the games take on a much greater scale of meaning.
But even if it does, the Cowboys play in a very difficult division with a tough schedule and may be the odd team out in the NFC for a second straight season.
Which isn't exactly the way you would like to open a new billion dollar stadium.
Predicted Finish: 9-7, 3rd place NFC East