The 2010 NFL football season can not start fast enough for the Dallas Cowboys and their fans. While the ’09 season surely will not go down as one of the best in their history by a long shot, it did serve a very important purpose in Cowboy football – it got the monkey off their back. The Cowboys finally cleared that 13 year run of not winning a game in the playoffs from their collective brains and now can look towards trying to win a Super Bowl. While most experts seem to think that the Cowboys will win the tough NFC East, the reasons why are not without merit. Here are ten good reasons why the Dallas Cowboys could end up hoisting Mr. Lombardi’s trophy at season’s end:
1. Marion Barber Returning to the Third Down Role
Most everyone agrees that Marion Barber is not an every down back. He simply runs too hard to be fully effective carrying the rock play after play. With the maturation of a pair of superstars in the making in Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, Barber is now set to return to his role as a goal line monster and third down specialist. Expect him to have a much more laid back role in the offense this season and the Cowboys to benefit from having him healthy come Playoff time.
2. Felix Jones Taking Over as the Primary Back
Felix Jones is simply too good to hold back any longer. As mentioned above, Barber is not really the right fit to have in the starting lineup as an every down back. Jones is a bit susceptible to injury, but with Barber and the best number three running back in the league in Tashard Choice to back him up, Jones should be able to really explode this season.
3. Jason Witten is Still on the Team
Witten is simply the kind of guy that every NFL championship team must have. He does everything well, and he makes the plays that nobody else will. If you need a first down, Witten is the man that is likely to give it to you. He can catch the ball anywhere on the football field and is more than a capable run blocker as well.
4. Tony Romo Seems to Have Shaken the Jinx…Kind of
Tony Romo is certainly one of the best NFL quarterbacks, but he has had a really hard time with the mental part of the game it seems. For a few years there, he looked destined to be one of those guys that wins until it matters. Finally this past season the real Tony Romo stepped up and delivered a win during the playoffs. Granted, the Cowboys still flopped out early, but the guy was under some serious pressure. Expect this season to be much more breezy for the talented Romo, in spite of the high expectations. (On a side note, the curse Romo was playing under was vastly over-rated. He played well in the playoffs a couple of times during the Cowboy losses but got saddled with the moniker unfairly in my view).
5. Miles Austin Has Turned into a Star
Miles Austin is the perfect example of a guy seizing his opportunity and then not letting go. Once he got his chance to shine, the guy simply went out and grabbed the game by the throat. It helps when you have talent, of course, but Austin is more than just a great talent. He showed the very definition of a professional football player with his performance on the field.
6. The Playoff Game Monkey is Over
As mentioned above, the playoff monkey is gone now in Dallas. That is certainly not enough to quench the playoff fire within the gut of the Cowboys or their fans, so expect them to push even harder this season. The Cowboys are not used to being perrenial losers in the playoffs and it surely eats Jerry Jones alive. Wade Phillips might have saved himself for a year, but the Cowboys have to deliver this season as well for him to stay. Old Jerry will turn on him in a second with another one and done to be sure.
7. Roy Williams Can Finally Relax and Catch the Ball
No matter how much he claims otherwise, Roy Williams is simply not a number one wide out at this stage of his career. The guy was so busy trying to defend his right to be in that slot that he forgot the most basic part of the position – catching the ball. Now that Miles Austin is the unquestioned number one receiver, Williams will likely go back to being the productive receiver that he showed he could be in Detroit. Expect a big comeback season for Williams this year.
8. Dez Bryant is Going to be Better Than Advertised
Dez Bryant, the Cowboys first round draft pick in 2010, is simply a fantastic pro style receiver that will be much better than people think. He particularly will fit into the Cowboys passing scheme and Jason Garrett will find ways to help him succeed early and often. This guy will be the future number one receiver for the Cowboys and will be a huge star this season. He has serious skills and needs only a good surrounding cast to help him mature. Guys like Witten and Romo will help him along immensely in this area.
9. Nose Tackle Jay Ratliff Can Plug the Middle
Jay Ratliff is simply a beast. The guy is absolutely one of the most disruptive forces in the NFL and as long as he anchors that Cowboy defensive line, the linebackers will be free to chase the football. One can not put a price tag on the guy, and he is vastly under-rated in spite of the huge doses of respect he receives every week from the opposition. Ratliff is better than Haynesworth in my opinion, without the accompanying attitude to deal with.
10. Keith Brooking has Settled in as a Leader
Keith Brooking is the glue of this Cowboy defense. He settled in nicely last season, but this season he appears to be the leader in the defensive huddle. He has had a year now to gel with the guys and now can go to being the “Jason Witten” of the defense. He will keep them organized and focused, and will continue to make play after play like he always has.
Every NFL team has high hopes going into a new NFL football season, but the Dallas Cowboys know they are good. They should be right in the thick of things in the NFC, and a Super Bowl appearance is a very real possiblity for this outstanding football team.