August 2010—Arlington, Texas
Heading into the 2010 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys look like the NFL's team to beat.
Personally, I have to give Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips all the credit in the world for how this roster is assembled.
On offense, the Cowboys have gone with the notion that less is more on the offensive line. As we all know, teams with excellent offensive lines have a long history of losing. The 2007 Patriots were the perfect example of a team that had three Pro Bowl offensive linemen but somehow struggled to score points. The Jimmy Johnson era Cowboys had one of the best offensive lines of all time but the team struggled to stay competitive in the early '90s.
The Cowboys have learned from the mistakes of their own past, and they have now invested nearly all of their offensive draft picks into skill position players instead of drafting a tackle or guard. This is the same strategy that Matt Millen used with the Lions from 2001 until 2008, and the Lions were only about seven or eight wins per season away from being a perennial championship contender.
To complement their aging and under-performing offensive line, the Cowboys have also decided that depth at the quarterback position is not really important, letting Jon Kitna handle the role of second-string quarterback. After all, what are the odds that starting quarterback Tony Romo would get hurt behind an under-performing and injury prone offensive line that lets him take hits almost constantly?
Dallas has also decided to further boost their offensive success by committing extra hard to the passing game. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has said that he intends to only run the ball about 33 percent of the time. After all, if you have a running back in Felix Jones that only averages 5.7 yards per carry for his career; it is an excellent idea to limit his touches as much as possible.
Also, Dallas has so much confidence in its passing attack that Garrett is convinced that they can still throw the ball with defenses over-committing to the pass. This is simply genius, because the Cowboys know that other teams are going to think: "OK, you've thrown the ball on the last seven plays, so this time you'll be smart enough to run it," and the Cowboys can pass the ball with great effectiveness against bewildered defenses who are expecting a running play.
If the Cowboys offense doesn't have you convinced, then look no further than one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Mike Jenkins, Terrence Newman and Orlando Scandrick are shutdown corners that rarely make mistakes, and the safety tandem of Gerald Sensabaugh and Alan Ball might be the most disciplined in all of football.
To top off this championship-caliber football team, the Cowboys have one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL. I don't see why Wade Phillips takes so much heat: he has a 33-15 win loss record over the past three seasons. Jason Garrett has a bright future as one of the great offensive minds in the game, and he will most likely be a head coach sooner rather than later. His extreme propensity to abandon the running game is really what makes him a valuable play-caller.
The Cowboys coaching staff has rightly decided that discipline on the football field is just a minor detail. After all, false starts and holding calls rarely kill drives, and defensive penalties that give opposing offenses a first down rarely hurt a team's chances at winning the game.
I am aware that most of us football analysts predicted the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl each of the last three years and that they have only won one playoff game in that span. However, this year will be different. This year will be something special.
With a team that has one of the best rosters and coaching staffs in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have the potential to go 13-3 or 14-2 and go on to play for the Super Bowl in their own stadium.
Jerry Jones should be proud of his Dallas Cowboys: they are the best team in the NFL.