Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 NFL PREVIEW - Dallas Cowboys

DALLAS COWBOYS                                            

2014 Record: 12-4-0 (1st in NFC East)

HEAD COACH: Jason Garrett

New Players in 2015 - RB Darren McFadden; DE Greg Hardy; RB Jed Collins; LB Jasper Brinkley; LB Keith Rivers; DB Corey White; LB Andrew Gachkar.

OFFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 7th in NFL (383.6 ypg)

DEFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 19th in NFL (355.1 ypg)

Offense:  Coming off one of his personal best seasons, Tony Romo is back at quarterback after passing for 3,705 yards with 33 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. Brandon Weeden is a decent backup quarterback.
The running game took a big hit when DeMarco Murray, the leading rusher in the NFL last season,  left for Philadelphia via free agency. In his place this season the Cowboys will have Darren McFadden (534 rushing yards, 3.4 ypc average and two TD with Oakland) who has been injury plagued in his seven year career. The backups are Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle (343 yards, 6.7 ypc and three TD in 2014).
Wide receiver is one of the best areas for the team as Dez Bryant re-signed with the team after a career best season last year in which he caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. Terrance Williams (37, 621, eight TD) is the other wideout with Cole Beasley (37, 420, four TD) and Chris Boyd in reserve. The tight end is Jason Witten, a favorite target of Romo who made 64 receptions for 703 yards and five touchdowns in 2014.
The line is solid with center Travis Frederick, guards Zack Martin and Ronald Leary and tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free.

Defense: Up front in the 4-3 set are ends Jeremy Mincey (six QB sacks) and possibly rookie Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State) or Tyrone Crawford until Greg Hardy serves a league imposed suspension. The tackles will be Crawford and/or Terrell McClain along with Nick Hayden.
The linebackers will have Rolando McClain (two interceptions) in the middle with Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens on the outside. Randy Gregory (rookie from Nebraska), Jasper Brinkley, Cameron Lawrence, Keith Rivers and Dekoda Watson will provide depth.
The secondary has Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick at the corners with Barry Church (two INT)  and J.J. Wilcox (three picks) playing the safety spots. Rookie Byron Jones (Connecticut) and Morris Claiborne are on hand in the secondary as well.

OUTLOOK FOR 2015 - After finishing atop the NFC East division a year ago, the Cowboys had a decent run in the playoffs and are looking for even better things in the 2015 season.
A lot will depend on the running game with injury prone Darren McFadden taking over for the departed DeMarco Murray. A strong running attack is vital for the 'Pokes offense in order to take the pressure off of QB Tony Romo, who played relatively mistake free football a year ago.
With Dez Bryant and company to throw the ball to, Romo has a good variety of targets and McFadden has shown a good ability to catch the ball out of the backfield in the past.
As long as the O-Line protects Romo (only 30 sacks allowed last season) and the running game is at least steady, the offense should be fine once again. Dallas scored 467 points a year ago, which was fifth in the league.
The defense has to get more pressure on the quarterback as they had only 27 sacks last season. Getting Lee back from injury at linebacker will help and once Hardy is ready to go at defensive end, that should be a big plus for the pass rush.
Head Coach Jason Garrett knows this team is capable of big things if they remain steady on defense and avoid the big mistakes on offense that have haunted them in past seasons.
Look for a 10-6 finish this year while they battle Philadelphia for the NFC East title. The Cowboys should make the post-season once again and how far they can go will depend on Romo playing mistake free football.

Week 1 - vs. New York Giants
Week 2 - at Philadelphia Eagles
Week 3 - vs. Atlanta Falcons
Week 4 - at New Orleans Saints
Week 5 - vs. New England Patriots
Week 6 - BYE WEEK
Week 7 - at New York Giants
Week 8 - vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 9 - vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Week 10 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 11 - at Miami Dolphins
Week 12 - vs. Carolina Panthers
Week 13 - at Washington Redskins
Week 14 - at Green Bay Packers
Week 15 - vs. New York Jets
Week 16 - at Buffalo Bills
Week 17 - vs. Washington Redskins

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