Today, the subject is the Dallas Cowboys.
Biggest Strength: Linebackers
Before I begin this article, I would like to point out that this was a tough call. Depending on opinion, you could have also picked defensive line or running back.
DeMarcus Ware is the best pass rush linebacker in the NFL. While he had an off year in '09 (by his standards), he is poised for another 15-20 sack season.
What really makes Ware stand out is his speed off the edge. There is no other rush linebacker that can match Ware's quickness and agility.
DeMarcus also has a great bull rush. The reason for that is his hand placement, not to mention his pure strength.
Anthony Spencer mans the other outside linebacker spot. While Spencer has taken awhile to develop, his pass rushing, run defending, and coverage skills are much better. Spencer really started to play well down the stretch, and will look to continue that this season.
It does not hurt that Spencer has Ware starting across from him. Spencer will alway have a single right tackle trying to block him.
Bradie James and Keith Brooking are the two inside linebackers.
James is a fantastic inside linebacker for the 3-4. Sure, his sack numbers were not what they were in 2008, but the guy does many other things well.
James is a key part of the interior defense that ranked in the top five of rushing yards allowed. James has mastered one of the lost arts in the NFL. He is a certain tackler almost every time.
Keith Brooking is also a capable veteran. Brooking has definitely lost some of his quickness in recent years. What he lacks in physical ability, though, he makes up for by having sound technique.
It is worth noting the Cowboys traded former bust Bobby Carpenter (who might decide to change his career field) to the Rams for OT Alex Barron, who I will cover in a moment.
Other strengths: QB, D-line, RB, WR, TE, G, KR/PR
Biggest Weakness: Offensive Tackle
The Cowboys made a smart move by cutting Flozell "Holding" Adams. The guy was a liability out there, and was certainly not worth what the Cowboys would have paid him this year.
But releasing Adams does not mean the Cowboys have great options to replace him.
Doug Free, who will play left tackle, is their best option by default.
While he played well at right tackle, I am not so sure his abilities are best suited for left tackle. Free plays large and tall, but he is not as dominant as he should be.
I am also fairly concerned about his ability to block the speed rushers off the edge.
These are some of the guys he will be blocking (or attempting to) this season: Brian Orakpo, Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, Jared Allen, Justin Tuck, Dwight Freeney, and Trent Cole.
Marc Colombo will start at the right tackle spot. Colombo is one of the stiffest tackles I have seen on tape. It does not help that he is coming off of an injury plagued season in 2009.
The aforementioned Barron was shipped to Dallas earlier this offseason for Bobby Carpenter. There is a reason why Marc Bulger will continue to have nightmares about defensive ends and linebackers.
Barron is actually a solid athlete. But his footwork is abysmal. Look at this play (left tackle), for example. Freeney had his way with Barron (it didn't affect the play), because Barron simply tries to push Freeney with his hands, rather than do the actual footwork.
Other Weaknesses: S, K
This is the ninth of a 32-part series where I examine the biggest strength and weakness of every NFL team. Please put your disagreements in the comment section cordially. To view previous editions, click the following links:
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