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2006 Dallas Cowboys Preview

By Robert Ferringo of Doc's Sports Journal

T.O. T.O. T.O. T.O. T.O. T.O. T.O. T.O. T.O. T.O. T.O.

Hey, did you hear about some wide receiver named Terrell Owens? Did you know what Owens had for breakfast today? Did you know T.O. likes unicorns and spits on poor people when he sees them on the street? Not much overkill going on in the media about a guy who has played in exactly eight of the last 21 possible games since Jan. 1, 2005.

Actually, I forgot about him for about 12 seconds when ESPN decided it wanted to manufacture a quarterback controversy last week between a guy who's been to a pair of Super Bowls (Drew Bledsoe) and some dude named Romo.

So what the hell is REALLY going on with the Cowboys? Well, what people are missing out on is that this was a very good, but undisciplined, team last year and they appear better this season. The defense has been ravenous in the preseason and appears to be better in the secondary. With Julius Jones and Marion Barber they have a potent running game, and Drew Bledsoe has looked sharp.

Look, the Cowboys gave away two games (Washington, Seattle) last year. I mean, those were complete rip-your-fans-and-bettors-hearts-out-and-eat-them losses. They were two plays away from being 11-5 and hosting a playoff game. They brought most of the principle players back from that team, added some depth and gained some experience, and should be a Player in the East this season. But that is only if Parcells can hold the nuclear reactor together long enough before the impending meltdown. Stay tuned.

Here's Doc's 2006 Dallas Cowboys Preview:

  • 2005 Record: 9-7 (5-3 home, 4-4 road)
  • 2005 Rankings: 13th offense (15th pass, 13th rush); 10th defense (11th pass, 15th rush)
  • 2005 Against the Spread: 7-7-2 (3-3-2 home, 4-4 road); 8-8 vs. total (3-5 h, 5-3 r)
  • 2006 Odds: 8/1 to win SB, 6/1 to win NFC, 2/1 to win NFC East, 9.5 wins O/U
  • 2006 Strength of Schedule: 18th (.504 opp. win %)
  • Key stat: The oddsmakers have a perfect read on this team. In the last seven years, Dallas has won between seven and nine games ATS every year. They haven't had back-to-back winning or losing regular seasons in that time and posted three 8-8 marks.
Returning starters: 14 (7 offense, 7 defense)
Key acquisitions: Terrell Owens, WR (from Philly); Mike Vanderjagt, K (from Indy); Bobby Carpenter, LB (draft); Akin Ayodele, LB (from Jax); Marcus Coleman, S (from NYJ); Kyle Kosier, OG (from Detroit); Jason Fabini, OG (from NYJ); Anthony Fasano (draft), Pat McQuistan, OL (draft).
Key departures: Larry Allen, OL; La'Roi Glover, DT; Mike Barrow, LB; Dan Campbell, TE; Scott Fujita, LB; Keyshawn Johnson, WR; Dat Nguyen, LB; Torrin Tucker, OT.

Offense: I'm a big fan of the two-tight end set. I think it's going to help offset their weakness at the tackle positions. Their 50 sacks allowed last year was fourth-worst in the NFL. Trouble is Witten and Fasano are two of their better receivers if T.O. is out. Other than him, Terry Glenn and Pat Crayton, the Cowboys don't have anyone with over 20 career catches on the roster. Also, I don't think Owens will adjust well to Parcells offense. T.O. likes to catch the ball on slants, ins or streaks, in stride and facing the end zone. In the Cowboys offense he'll be expected to make plays with his back to the goal line. That's not his style.

Defense: The biggest difference between last year's respectable defense and this year's potentially game-altering one is that DeMarcus Ware, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears are all a year older. Those three are mutants. The 3-4 was soft last year, and they didn't have the linebacker depth to pull it off. They yielded over four yards per rush. Carpenter is a heady rookie and Ayondele was a great value pickup. The secondary allowed just 54.7 percent completions, but teams managed 6.2 yards per attempt.

X-factor: Flozell Adams. The offense averaged 23 points in the six games he played last year. That dipped to an average of 18.8 points after Adams was sidelined with a sore knee. He's already nursing a strained calf muscle this preseason.

Outlook: Marcus Coleman got busted for drugs. Keith Davis got shot. Greg Ellis has been bitching about his playing time. Owens is, well, Owens. Mike Vanderjagt may get cut because he can't kick. Flozell Adams is a twinkie away from injured reserve. Does this sound like a Disciplined Bill Parcells Team to you? Me neither. Expectations are high - not Nate Newtown high, but close - and I just think this team has too many question marks to be considered a Super Bowl team. Playoffs? Sure. Championship? Not even close.

Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at robert@docsports.com.

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