Despite Playoff Loss, Reasons for Believing the Cowboys Are Trending Upward
The postseason of good feelings came to an abrupt end for the Cowboys last Sunday in Minnesota.
After being dispatched heavy-handedly by the Vikings, it appeared any progress that was made during the season was wiped away in the span of 60-minutes.
The reality, however, is much different.
Here are a few reasons why the Cowboys are trending upward going into 2010.
Reason No. 1: Wade Returns
Like it or not, Wade Phillips is coming back for at least another season.
Jerry Jones really has no other choice than to bring back Phillips. The few realistic alternatives are far worse.
Phillips helped lead the team to its first postseason victory since 1996, after a late season playoff push.
If nothing else, it's a good move for the sake of continuity. Now is not the time to bring in a new coach with a new philosophy. The players like Phillips and respond to him.
That's half the battle.
Reason No. 2: Felix's Increased Role
During the last seven games of the season, Felix Jones averaged roughly 13 carries and close to 80 yards per game, including a 148-yard performance in the wildcard game against the Eagles.
Going into 2010, Jones will likely touch the ball just as much, if not more than he did during the second half of this season.
This should have Cowboy fans grinning with anticipation.
Reason No. 3: Mike Jenkins Shutting It Down
It's hard to believe the coaching staff had a hard time deciding who was going to be named the starter opposite Terrance Newman when the season began.
Once Mike Jenkins was given the opportunity to start his second game in Week 3, he never relinquished the position.
Outside of Darrell Revis in New York, you would be hard pressed to find a cornerback who covered the field as well as Jenkins.
What makes Jenkins special is his confidence, tenacity, and phenomenal ball skills.
Now with a season of starting under his belt, Jenkins should improve exponentially.
Look for the coaching staff to start assigning Jenkins the responsibility of covering opposing teams No. 1 receiver.
Reason No. 4: Anthony Spencer Playing With Confidence
Upon first glance, Spencer's season statistics (67 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 10 TFL, 2 FF, 1 INT) are respectable, but not spectacular.
However, if you were watching the games you saw a player he who blossomed in the second half of the season and was a key component to the Cowboys' playoff push.
Not just a pass rushing OLB, Spencer is a tremendous asset in defending the game.
Now with a complete season of starts against division opponents under his belt, look for Spencer's sack totals to increase in 2010.
Reason No. 5: A Full Season of Miles Austin
His numbers are gaudy:
Now, consider the fact Austin accomplished this in only nine starts and you'll realize why the Cowboys believe he's on the verge of super stardom.
And you should too.
Reason No. 6: Romo Can Play Reigned In
Don't let the Viking game debacle fool you, Romo is an improved QB. If you had an ounce of objectiveness you would acknowledge that no quarterback could have dealt with the pressure the Vikings defensive line put on Romo.
Outside of a three interception game in Week Two, Romo played smart, controlled, winning football.
Romo set a career high in pass attempts (550) and career low in interceptions (9).
He knows this is a formula that can work. Look for more of the same from Romo in 2010.