The Dallas Cowboys: 2014 Final Report Card
The Dallas Cowboys made huge steps in improving their team in the 2014 season. As I predicted in the preseason their offensive line emerged as one of if not the best OL’s in the NFL. I also predicted in the preseason that their defense would improve even with the losses of Ware and Hatcher to free agency and Sean Lee to injury. I went out on a limb when I wrote that in the preseason but truly felt that with Marinelli moving to DC he’d get the best out of some of the younger guys. Let’s take a look at how the Dallas Cowboys performed this year.
Cowboys Grades for 2014:
Coaching: (A-) Jason Garrett still needs to get this team more disciplined and hungry but we are starting to see him emerge from young up and comer into a seasoned coach. The trust he’s gained from Jerry Jones to build this team from the interior line has them heading in the right direction. Let’s hope the new found success doesn’t go to Jerry’s head and make him start getting involved with player personnel. It would be nice if the Cowboys could retain Callahan’s services on offense but more than likely he’ll end up with another team. They’ve already resigned Rod Marinelli and Jason Garrett to contract extentions which were obviously correct decisions.
Offense: (A+) This season saw Demarco Murray win the rushing title, Tony Romo lead the league in completion percentage, an offensive line opening up lanes from the 1990’s, and Dez Bryant look like the most talented receiver in Cowboys’ history. Yes, we will have to give them an A+ here. It looks like the Cowboys finally got it right in building the OL in developing three first-round draft picks who made the Pro Bowl for the Cowboys -- tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and guard Zack Martin.
What to do in the offseason? I believe that it will the best decision to not sign Murray to a huge contract this offseason. We’ve seen it happen over and over where teams reward RB’s with huge contracts only to see them get injured or their skills diminish. It’s an unfortunate reality in today’s NFL but one that the Patriots have mastered. However, resigning Dez Bryant to a long term deal is a must.
Defense: (B+) The defense overachieved in many ways this season which is why they get a B+ as a group. It helped that the offense was so proficient in keeping them off the field for extended periods of time this season. It’s a defense that really has no super stars yet we saw the chemistry of the group come together through the season. Their linebacking corp was a major surprise with Rolando McLain making his comeback to the NFL and the group as a whole making plays. With Sean Lee’s return I expect the LB group to be solid for years to come. The defensive line needs to improve and be able to pressure opposing QB’s.
What to do in the offseason? They need to draft DL and secondary for 2015. Rod Marinelli has done wonders with limited talent. I can’t wait to see what he can do with some more young talent via the draft. I believe we will see the departure of Henry Melton and Brandon Carr because of salary cap issues so expect to see a draft heavy on defense throughout.
What should we expect in 2015? The Cowboys will have to make a few tough decisions going into 2015. Again, I expect to see the departures of Melton, Carr, and Murray due to salary cap issues. They have the luxury in the draft of strictly focusing on defense and maybe a RB if they don’t land one via free agency (Peterson). They need to begin looking at who will take the reigns from Romo as he heads into his mid 30’s with back issues. There are enough quality veterans around the league to serve as backups that I doubt we’ll see them address that position in the draft this year. We should expect to see a team that will contend for the NFC Championship next year with enough young talent to be in that situation for years to come.