Team Profiles- Dallas Cowboys by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Two years ago, Jason Garrett, the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, had to listen to daily rumors that he was on the way out of Dallas. That’s what happens when the team you are coaching goes 6-10 in 2010, then 8-8 the next 3 years in a row. Owner Jerry Jones stayed with Garrett for 2014, and consequently the Cowboys had a dominating 12-4 season, won the NFC East Division and went to the playoffs. Garrett’s job is safe for a couple more years. It’s hard to tell where Garrett’s coaching ends and Jerry Jones’ begins, but as a team, they understood the value of a strong offensive line, and in 2014, they had one of the best…if not THE BEST. Opposing teams knew RB DeMarco Murray would carry the ball on the first down (he did it nearly every set of downs), and yet the O-Line made holes and RB Murray got his 6-8 yards. It happened all season. That’s when you know you have a great O-Line, when they know it’s coming, and can’t stop it. RB Emmitt Smith had a gigantic O-Line back in the 90s that made holes your grandmother could run through, so it’s no surprise that Dallas is built that way again.
2015 Team Outlook – Dallas runs in the NFC East Division with Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants. It’s a quirky division, because all 4 of these teams take turns winning the NFC East. Dallas won it in 2014, Philly in 2013, Washington in 2012 and the Giants in 2010. Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants have a lot of question marks heading into the 2015 season, so with the Cowboys as the most stable team, it’s a pretty good guess that they’ll win the division 2 years in a row. (Philadelphia and Washington aren’t committed to their current QBs and the Giants ended the 2014 season 6-10, so they have issues to address.) Whether Jones can buy a Superbowl like he tried to in 2014, is a wait and see.
2015 Fantasy Outlook –
QB– Owner Jerry Jones will tell you that he got very lucky landing QB Tony Romo, who was not selected in the 2003 NFL Draft, and signed on as a free agent with the Cowboys. All Romo has done since, is being selected to the Pro Bowl in the 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014 seasons…all years in which the Dallas has made the playoffs. In 2014 he ranked as the #13 quarterback in the NFL, the same ranking he had in 2013. He ended 2014 with 3766 total yards, 34 TDs and only 9 INTs. He’s as solid for fantasy owners as he is the Cowboy organization, but he’ll need a Superbowl ring to ever be considered great.
RBs– Going into the 2014 season, the knock on RB DeMarco Murray was his durability, a word used a lot when discussing running backs. Murray shut up all the doubters however, becoming the #1 running back in the league this past season, playing in all 16 games, racking up 2261 total yards from scrimmage and scoring 13 TDs. He even played Week 16 vs the Colts with a broken hand. On January 31st, the Associated Press named DeMarco Murray its 2014 Offensive Player of the Year. Murray is a free agent, so his return to the Dallas line-up is questionable. The Cowboys also have their star receiver as a free agent this year, so getting both signed is currently Dallas’ dilemma. (If Dallas can’t resign RB Murray, The Dallas Morning News believes Joseph Randle will be the Cowboys’ starting running back in 2015…if Randle can stay out of prison.) UPDATE: Cowboys losing RB DeMarco Murray to Philly, makes RB Randle the front-runner for the starting running back. Dallas signs RB Darren McFadden, who will be a back-up only.
WRs– The Cowboys have plenty of talent in their receiving corps, with WR Dez Bryant as the big-time play maker. Bryant was the #3 wide receiving for the 2014 season, catching 88 passes for 1320 yards and 13 TDs. WR Terrance Williams lines up opposite WR Bryant and he quietly had 681 yards in 2014 and 8 TDs, WR Williams, a 3rd round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, came on strong in playoffs for Dallas, scoring 3 TDs, 2 vs Detroit. The #3 WR Cole Beasley is a little “Wes Welker” type receiver for Dallas, who finished fourth on Dallas with 48 targets last season, posting a 37/420/4 line. UPDATE: Cowboys signed WR Dez Bryant to a five-year, $70 million contract, including $45 million guaranteed.
TEs- Who is the second all-time leader in career receptions and receiving yards for a tight end, trailing only Tony Gonzalez, currently in the NFL? Hint: Since I am profiling Dallas, he is a Cowboy. I’ll take a wild stab, and guess that no one got this wrong. Jason Witten has been with Dallas since being drafted in 2003, and every year, Witten is a top 5 tight end in the NFL. Clearly one of the best to ever play the position and a lock someday for the Hall of Fame. At 32, he shows little signs of slowing down, and will be an important factor in Dallas’ offense once again in 2015.
K– You have to hand it to Dallas, and their knack of discovering undrafted free agent talent. Following the 2011 NFL Draft, Bailey signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. He ranked #8 for the 2014 season. As of October 2014, when his 100th made field goal made him eligible for ranking, Bailey became the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, and is the only kicker to convert over 90 percent of his kicks.
DEF– In 2013, the Dallas Cowboys finished last in the league in sacks per pass attempt and No. 25 in the league in sacks. In 2014 they finished 28th in sacks, which was a little improvement. Dallas simply doesn’t have difference-makers on their front seven, and they need them. The team ranked #19 among NFL defenses last season, but they should be better on 2015. UPDATE: Cowboys sign OLB Keith Rivers, MLB Jasper Brinkley, DT Nick Hayden and claim CB Corey White off waivers.
2014 Dallas Fantasy Surprises– Easily, RB DeMarco Murray becoming the #1 running back in the league this past season, and playing in all 16 games was the biggest surprise. We expect QB Romo, WR Dez Bryant and TE Witten to be very good, and post big numbers. I’d be surprised if getting the Dallas defense back on track wouldn’t be a priority, 2nd only to getting the free agents signed. I can’t say however, that I believe defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is the right guy to do it.
2015 Free Agents that Dallas Needs to Address – RB DeMarco Murray (signed w/ Philly)- WR Dez Bryant (franchise tagged)- FB Tyler Clutts- WR Dwayne Harris (signed w/ NY Giants)- OT Doug Free (re-signed)- DE George Selvie (signed w/ NY Giants)- DT Nick Hayden (re-signed)- OL Bruce Carter (signed w/ TB) – OL Justin Durant Signed w/ Atlanta) – CB Sterling Moore (signed w/ TB)
2015 NFL Draft – The immediate needs of Dallas are defensive help, keeping their O-line solid, and likely addressing the running back position. Dallas needs a stronger, more effective pass-rush (DE), they need to keep their O-Line solid, especially if they loose anyone to free agency (OT) and roster depth at running back (RB). Additionally, Dallas hasn’t drafted a quarterback since 2009, and Romo can’t play forever (QB). UPDATE: Dallas’ entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- DALLAS’ DRAFT
Did You Know – The Dallas Cowboys have an estimated value of $2.3 billion, the Cowboys are the most valuable team in the NFL, they are the 5th most valuable sports team in the WORLD, they generate $560 million in revenue which is the most of any NFL team AND YET…The NFL hasn’t paid a dime in taxes since the 1960’s and is still considered a “non-profit organization”.
All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS
Team home page: www.dallascowboys.com