Today the Dallas Cowboys start training camp in sunny Oxnard, California. Training Camp is where we physically and mentally prepare for the upcoming season. The Cowboys are coming off back to back 8-8 seasons in which they had a chance to make the playoffs in the last week of the season but failed to do so. In 2011 they lost to the eventual Super Bowl NY Giants and last season they lost to the Washington Redskins. The Cowboys have a lot of talent on offense and defense but could use more consistency on both sides of the ball. Here are my concerns going in to the 2013 season.
1) Offensive Line: Quarterback Tony Romo was sacked 36 times last yr and the O-line play was marred with penalties and pressures. At Left tackle the cowboys seem to be fine with Tyron Smith entering his 2nd season as the starter at left tackle. At Right Tackle Doug Free seemed to be a turn style at times during the season last year and was benched for Jeremy Parnell. The Cowboys lowered Free’s salary during the off season and his job will be up for grabs at camp as he will be battling with Parnell to see who will start at Right Tackle. At Center the cowboys drafted Wisconsin offensive linemen Travis Frederick with their 1st rd pick back in April at the NFL Draft. The Cowboys like him and seem to think he can come in right away and help on a porous offensive line. The Cowboys also like Phil Costa was the starter last season but missed most of the yr with injuries. At guard there seems to be an up and comer named Ronald Leary who will be pushing for playing time along with Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. It’s imperative that the cowboys get their five best offensive linemen playing as a unit as quick as possible because they don’t wanna see their quarterback getting sacked and pressured too many times.
2) Safety: The Cowboys have some questions at the safety position. The Cowboys have one starter in Barry Church but he missed most of last season due to an ACL injury. Church was playing well in the early part of season last yr but he’s not exactly fleet of foot. How he quickly he recovers and can he play at a high level is the question. The Cowboys don’t have a starter at the other position so that spot is up for competition as well. Guys like veteran Will Allen, 2nd year player Matt Johnson and Rookie JJ Wilcox will be fighting in camp to see who that other starter is besides Barry Church when the Cowboys line up on Sept.8th against the Giants.
3) Transition to the 4-3: The Cowboys are making the switch to the 4-3 defense after running the 3-4 defense for the last eight years. Dallas brought in former Tampa Bay Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin to run the defense. I have some questions along the defensive front for Dallas. Jay Ratliff has been battling injuries these last few seasons. Can he get back to way he used to play is the questions and can he still pressure the quarterback on a consistent basis is the question. Is Jason Hatcher ready to take a step up and be more than a rotational player and where’s the depth going to be after Hatcher and Ratliff along the d-line. I know Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer are very good pass rushers but are they ready to put their hand on ground to rush and stop the run each and every down. Both haven’t been full time 4-3 defensive ends since their collegiate days.
4) Play calling: Head Coach Jason Garrett won’t be calling the plays for the 1st time since he arrived in Dallas in 2007. The play calling duties were handed over to Bill Callahan. Callahan will be calling the plays from up in the booth and quarterback Tony Romo will be more involved in the game planning on a weekly basis. The Cowboys need to run the ball better after finishing last season 31st in rushing last yr. Callahan needs to find a better balance than the cowboys had last season. They also need running back Demarco Murray to stay healthy for a large part of the season, because when he’s healthy and running well the Cowboys offense can be very explosive.
5) Young Players: Which young up and coming players are ready to the next step forward and give the Cowboys adequate depth if a starter or two goes down with injuries. The guys i have ready to step forward are: Morris Claiborne( Cornerback), Barry Church ( Safety), Dwayne Harris( Wide Receiver), Ronald Leary( Offensive Guard), Bruce Carter( Linebacker) and Tyrone Crawford ( Defensive Line)