Since 2006, just a year after a full commitment to the 3-4 defense under former head coach Bill Parcells, I have waited.
And I have waited.
Half a decade later, I am still waiting.
See, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. While the Cowboys don’t seem to realize this from an offensive standpoint, other teams in the NFL do. Best way to stop someone or something from traveling in a straight line is to put something in the way. The bigger or stronger that obstacle is the more difficult it will be for … you get the point.
To this point it appears that Jay Ratliff will again man the nose position on the defensive line. A move made out of desperation in the 2007 season opener following the loss of then-nose guard Jason Ferguson still impedes the Dallas defense from reaching the next level.
Ratliff is now listed at a lean and mean 285 pounds, perfect for rushing the passer, but not exactly ideal for clogging the middle, though. Ratliff was drafted as a defensive end and looks the part now more than ever.
Understand that the secondary was not as bad as people thought last year just because of the personnel. When your defense often faces anything from 3rd-and-5 to 3rd-and-2, the unit will struggle. It’s simple: You’re giving up too many yards on the ground, especially on first and second down.
The Cowboys do this famously. A recent example would be watching Adrian Peterson run through the Dallas front like a hot knife through fresh bird poo in the third week of the preseason.
Oh sure, it is only preseason … yet we’ve seen this kind of thing before.
The Cowboys kept only three, and one turns 36 by midseason. Another, rookie Bruce Carter was taken in the second round in this year’s draft and currently resides on the non-football injury list, despite the fact he was hurt playing football at North Carolina.
Yes, the Cowboys knew he was rehabbing from a torn ACL, and that tells me that this undersized future prospect is exactly that: the future.
I am not big on predictions seeing as how the NFL is as unpredictable now as what two numbers will pop up after a roll of the dice at a Vegas casino. Last season’s success stories are likely to slide after being raided in free agency and the disappointments come roaring into relevance like a Texas afternoon thunderstorm completely non-existent earlier the same morning.
Nothing but nothing says that this defense is turning any corners anytime soon.
It is hard to imagine Dallas finishing worse that Washington in the NFC East in 2011. Then again, this team was supposed to become the first one to ever play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Instead, that distinction could go to the Colts, who are never out of the hunt so long as Peyton Manning is under center.
A finish of 10-6 and a possible Wild Card playoff game on the road would be a huge accomplishment for the 2011 Dallas Cowboys. But for a team not too big on huge accomplishments in recent decades, I’m thinking somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7.