2013 Record: 8-8-0
Key Additions: DL Henry Melton; DL Terrell McClain; DL Jeremy Mincey; QB Brandon Weeden.
Key Losses: DL-LB DeMarcus Ware; WR Miles Austin; QB Kyle Orton; DL Jarius Wynn; DL Jason Hatcher; DL Everette Brown; OL Phil Costa.
HEAD COACH: Jason Garrett
Offense: Quarterback Tony Romo put up good numbers last season (3,828 yards, 31 touchdowns and ten interceptions) and is coming off two back surgeries this off-season, but the team is optimistic he will be the same steady QB he has been in the past. Brandon Weeden was brought over from the Cleveland Browns and will be the primary backup.
DeMarco Murray is the top running back again after going for 1,121 yards (5.2 ypc average) and scoring nine touchdowns. He also had 53 receptions, including one touchdown grab. Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar will back him up.
The wide receivers feature All Pro Dez Bryant (93 receptions, 1,233 yards and 13 TD) and tight end Jason Witten (73, 851, eight TD) as the main targets for Romo. Terrance Williams (44, 736, five TD) is the other starting wideout. Filling in when needed will be Dwayne Harris, Jamar Newsome and rookie Devin Street (Pittsburgh).
The offensive line has center Travis Frederick, guards Ronald Leary and rookie (Notre Dame) Zack Martin. The tackles are Doug Free and Tyron Smith.
STATS - Dallas finished 16th on offense last year, averaging 341 yards per game. The rushing game gained 94 yards (24th) while the passing game was 14th with 247 yards. The Cowboys averaged 27 points a game, which was fifth overall. Romo was sacked 35 times while the Cowboys turned the ball over 20 times.
Defense: After finishing dead last in the NFL on defense a year ago, the Cowboys will look to revitalize the 4-3 set with a better effort in 2014. Up front at tackles are Nick Hayden and Henry Melton. The ends are Jeremy Mincey and Tyrone Crawford.
George Selvie (seven QB sacks), Terrell McClain, Ben Bass and possibly Ben Gardner, a rookie from Stanford, are also available.
The linebackers have Bruce Carter and either Justin Durant or Kyle Wilber on the outside and either DeVonte Holloman or Orie Lemon in the middle. Also in the mix are rookies Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State) and Will Smith (Texas Tech). Gone from this group this season is DeMarcus Ware (free agency) and Sean Lee, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
The secondary will have Brandon Carr (three interceptions) at one corner spot with either Morris Claiborne or Orlando Scandrick (two picks) at the other spot. The safeties are Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Others looking to help out here will be B.W. Webb, Matt Johnson, rookie Ahmad Dixon (Baylor) and Jeff Heath.
STATS - Giving up 415 yards per game a year ago, the Cowboys ranked last in the NFL. They gave up 128 yards on the ground (27th) and also allowed a whopping 287 yards through the air, which ranked 30th overall. In addition, they managed just 35 quarterback sacks, but they did garner 28 takeaways, which ranked them in the top ten. The Cowboys allowed an average of 27 points per game and finished 26th in scoring defense, giving up 432 points.
OUTLOOK: After finishing with a .500 record for the last three years, the Cowboys are looking to improve on that mediocrity and get back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2009 season.
Head Coach Jason Garrett will no doubt face the scrutiny of being on the "hot seat" this year if the team struggles and fails to reach the post-season yet again.
An improved defense is a must for Dallas in 2014 if they want to even sniff the playoffs, but without Sean Lee, the other linebackers must step up and contribute. The secondary was awful last season, getting smoked on a regular basis and needs to step up and get more interceptions. An improved pass rush would help as well for the Cowboys.
As long as Romo is healthy once again and the rest of the offense contributes, the 'Pokes will be fine in this area. It will be an interesting season in Dallas and they need to get off the .500 record in the right direction as they look to get back to the post-season. They went 5-1 in the NFC East a year ago, so they need to repeat that effort and win some more games outside the division.
It's not out of the question this team could win the division, but they also could finish on the bottom as well. The key will be the defense improving and Romo and company doing their thing.
The Cowboys know they have to be better than the past three seasons to get to the playoffs, but another 8-8 finish appears to be on the horizon once again.
Week 1- vs. San Francisco
Week 2- at Tennessee
Week 3- at St. Louis
Week 4- vs. New Orleans
Week 5- vs. Houston
Week 6- at Seattle
Week 7- vs. NY Giants
Week 8- vs. Washington
Week 9- vs. Arizona
Week 10- at Jacksonville (London, England)
Week 11- BYE WEEK
Week 12- at NY Giants
Week 13- vs. Philadelphia
Week 14- at Chicago
Week 15- at Philadelphia
Week 16- vs. Indianapolis
Week 17- at Washington