2006 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys Will Be Anything but Boring

The Dallas Cowboys are another team that many “experts” are picking to do some big things in 2006 – and while I think they ‘Boys may be able to improve on their 9-7 season in 2005, I am not prepared to hand them anything on a silver platter, not even a division title.

If everything goes right for Dallas, they could be playing in the season’s final game. However, if things go wrong (which is always a possibility when Terrell Owens is in town) the Cowboys could flame out faster a fizzling firecracker.
Here’s the skinny on the Dallas Cowboys for 2006.

Quarterbacks
As I recently told my good friend, BetUSradio.com host, Matthew Ross, the Cowboys’ quarterback situation is simple. If the Cowboys provide adequate protection for Drew Bledsoe, he can still read the defenses and make the correct throws. As everyone knows, he still has a big arm as well. If Bledsoe doesn’t get protection, you’ll see a lot of sacks, incompletions and interceptions. Incredibly, Bledsoe has been sacked an unfathomable, 189 times the past four seasons.
Backup. Tony Romo may not have attempted a regular season pass in his short professional career, but that might not last much longer. Romo has opened some eyes this preseason and has probably played himself into a good look at the starters position in the near future.

Running Backs
Julius Jones is the guy the Cowboys start at tailback and when he’s healthy, Jones is pretty good. Unfortunately, Jones has never been able to make it through a full season as of yet. No matter, I like the Cowboys other running back, second-year player, Marion Barber, who rushed for nearly 600 yards and five touchdowns last season in a limited role.
If Jones can stay healthy all season, that will only serve to make Bledsoe all the more effective. If Jones goes down again, the Cowboys had better seriously think about making Barber their permanent starter.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
Who needs Terrell Owens when Terry Glenn has been running by dazed defensive backs all preseason like he’s 25-years-old again? Glenn has been nothing short of spectacular and can still perform at a high level, but the addition of Owens, whenever he does get on the field, should make the pair even more formidable. However, I can’t see the Owens-Parcells relationship going beyond 2006, so this may be just a one-year deal for both. Patrick Crayton is the Cowboys’ third receiver and one that is getting better with each game.
The Cowboys also have an excellent receiver in tight end Jason Witten, who should also flourish more with the addition of Owens opening up things considerably more for others.

Offensive Line
The Cowboys offensive line has looked decent during the preseason, but I am reserving all judgment on this unit until at least mid-season.
Kyle Kosier will start at left guard, Flozell Adams at left tackle, Al Johnson at center, Jason Fabini at right tackle and Marco Rivera at right guard. Cohesion could be a problem with this group and if any player in this starting unit suffers a lengthy injury, the ‘Boys offensive line could become a detriment again in 2006.

Defensive Line
I like the Cowboys defensive line, which has a nice mix of veterans sprinkled in with some young talent. Veteran defensive end, Greg Ellis combines with second-year players, Marcus Spears and Chris Canty, to give Dallas a nice trio of pass rushing ends. Jason Ferguson plays the nose tackle in Dallas’ 3-4 system. Jason Hatcher, a third-round pick from Grambling, should also see some time this year in the rotation.

Linebackers
The Cowboys have some talented linebackers, beginning with outside linebackers, DeMarcus Ware and Bobby Carpenter. Inside linebackers, Bradie James and newcomer, Akin Ayodele, should form another competent pair for the Cowboys as well. Rocky Boiman and Al Singleton will also find their way into the Cowboys linebacker rotation.

Defensive Backs
Although cornerback, Terrence Newman hasn’t fulfilled all of the potential that made him such a high first round draft pick two years ago, he and Anthony Henry have combined to make a formidable duo -and along with veteran Aaron Glenn – give the Cowboys three talented cornerbacks.
Safety Roy Williams, is one of the league’s biggest hitters although he can be beaten in coverage at times. Free Safety, Keith Davis is a more cerebral player who makes up for his lack of big-time hitting, with on-field smarts.
Should either of these guys go down, the Cowboys could be in trouble because Lynn Scott and Willie Pile certainly aren’t the answer.

Special Teams
The Cowboys signing of former Indianapolis Colts kicker, Mike Vanderjagt is an acquisition that could put the Cowboys over the top in a close contest that comes down to a field goal.
As good as Vanderjagt is, that’s how maddeningly inconsistent punter, Mat McBriar was last season. If he doesn’t improve, Parcells, who treasures good field position as much as coach, may be looking for a replacement.

Coaching
And speaking of the “Big Tuna,” I know that Parcells signed a two-year contract extension before this season that will run through the 2007 season, but I am going on record right now to say that Parcells could just as easily call it quits after this season than return for another treacherous trek in ’07 – especially if Owens turns out to be as big of a head case as he usually is.

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