As the pre-season draws to a close and the regular season looks set to begin the Dallas Cowboys’ look ready to begin on another deep playoff run.
Every offseason ends with a sentence just like the one above, and every season for the past 12 years, the Dallas Cowboys have failed to win a playoff game.
This season is another chance for the Cowboys to reclaim their glory as the league's best, and bring home the Lombardi Trophy...or to drop off as a playoff contender and be remembered yet again as an underachiever.
The Cowboys cleaned house at the end of last season after finishing with a very pedestrian 9-7 record and an early vacation. Terrell Owens was sent packing, along went Adam “Pacman” Jones, Tank Johnson, and Greg Ellis. The common theme with these players is that they were either a disruptive force in the locker room or had a clean cut history of creating problems, legal or otherwise.
The Cowboys then took a conservative approach in the draft, trading out of the first day and drafting 12 players on the second day in an attempt to improve depth and special teams.
From the 12 draftees, only two were offensive players: Robert Brewster and Manuel Johnson. Brewster tore a pectoral muscle while bench-pressing prior to training camp, and was placed on the PUP list (physically unable to perform) and therefore will not be able to play until at least week 10 of the regular season.
Manuel Johnson was cut as the final roster was trimmed to 53 players. This is now being taken into account the Cowboys gained almost nothing offensively from the draft.
As training camp got underway, five players were either put under the microscope or pulled it on top of them.
Kyle Kosier is the starting left guard, and last season he went down with a foot injury and missed 13 games. Kosier stepped back into his starting roll as left guard and trained with the first team, and from general observation and reports, Kosier hasn’t missed a beat and is playing great football.
This is great for not just Romo and the running back trio, but Flozell Adams as well. Last season, Adams had a lot of trouble with speed rushers and without Kosier there, they usually came speeding around the edge and took Romo down from his blind side, resulting in more fumbles, turnovers, and losses.
Kitna is 36 and obviously in the twilight years of his career. There is still no doubt, however, that he is a considerable upgrade over Brad Johnson, who’s lack of arm strength and aging body caused the Cowboys’ to go 1-2 when Romo went down with a broken pinky finger on his throwing hand.
Kitna is the type of player that can come in and win a few games; he is not the player that you would want to be starting at quarterback for consecutive weeks. If Romo manages to stay healthy, we will never have to find out what would happen if Kitna had to take the reins of an elongated period of time.
Kitna has created some chemistry with the Cowboys’ receivers and has looked sharp all through training camp and the preseason.
Last year, Bennett was known as the loud mouth rookie that wasn’t committed and didn’t try hard enough. This year, coaches and reporters can’t seem to say enough good things about him.
Bennett came into training camp in shape and prepared to work hard, and he has exceeded all expectations, seeming to make an amazing grab almost every practice session. In the preseason, he led all Cowboys’ receivers with 12 receptions for 155 yards.
He has proven to everyone that he can be a threat when given the chance, and because of that fact, the Cowboys’ have been looking at a lot of two tight end sets during the preseason and could possibly become the base offense in the future.
Ogletree was signed by the Cowboys’ as an undrafted free agent, but as soon as he stepped onto the field, heads started to turn.
Although he played with the third team offense, he impressed many of the Cowboys’ coaches with his route running abilities and his nice speed. Finally given a chance to play in the second preseason game, Ogletree made the most of it, catching three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown.
The touchdown grab is what really made people take notice.
Ogletree ran a fade route into the left corner of the endzone, Kitna threw it up, and as the ball came soaring down, the defender started grabbing onto Ogletree, committing a pass interference penalty.
Ogletree, unfazed, managed to catch the ball with one hand and keep both his feet inbounds for the go ahead touchdown. He continued to play well through the preseason and finished with seven receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns, doing just enough to earn himself a roster spot as the fifth receiver on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster.
Williams has been called a lot of things this offseason, and one of those things is not a number one wide receiver.
Williams is the number one receiver on this team though, and he has put in the time, sweat, and pain to have the best year of his career. He started the offseason by coming in early and having throwing sessions with Tony Romo; he then began an extensive weight program, stating that he would drop eight pounds to get a leaner build in order to help his agility.
He has the natural ability—nobody should doubt that, but the most important thing for Williams is to stay healthy.
In the one season in which he started all 16 games, he had over 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns. If he can match that production this season, a lot of doubters will be put to rest.
The Dallas Cowboys’ offense is going to look a little different this season, there won’t be as many long bombs and there will probably be a lot more running plays and dinky little dump off passes, but with that comes less turnovers and heart crushing last minute losses.
The question is not whether the offense has enough weapons, but how does the offense utilize all of its weapons.