2013 Record: 8-8
America’s Team has been a victim of its own hype ever since they moved into enormous Cowboys Stadium. As teams get pumped up to play and win there, the Cowboys are just 17-15 at home since the place opened in 2009. And they still haven’t beaten those darn New York Giants in the stadium in four tries. Tony Romo set a career high in passing yards last year with 4,903, but also lead the league in interceptions with 19. Romo has a tendency to collapse in clutch situations, but that doesn’t count the fact that his defense almost always put him in a tough position. There were some positive to be found in the 2012 Cowboys, notably the development of Dez Bryant into a true #1 receiver. After making headlines in training camp as the Cowboys coaching staff put rules on him to keep him in line, Bryant shook off the doubters with a 92 reception, 1,382 yard season with 12 touchdowns. Jason Witten (110 receptions, 1,039 yards) had a typically great season. Miles Austin (66 receptions, 943 yards) found himself overshadowed by Bryant but still has plenty of big play potential. The problem with the offense was the running game. DeMarco Murray, poised for a breakout season, only played in 10 games to injury and wasn’t nearly as explosive as the year before at just 4.1 yards per carry. Felix Jones did a poor job filling in for him. Romo also seems to think he has to do it all himself sometimes. They better hope Murray gets going this year or the offense will continue to underachieve.
Speaking of underachieving, there’s that suspect defense. After a season ranking 19th against the pass and 22nd against the rush, the Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in a controversial move where some thought Ryan was just the scapegoat for the unit’s struggles. It was supposed to be a dominant year for the Dallas D, complete with a new pair of corners in LSU’s Morris Claiborne and free agent signee Brandon Carr. Claiborne was somewhat disappointing and failed to create turnovers last year. The core of the defense was also broken up when they lost middle linebacker Sean Lee for the season in the middle of the year. DeMarcus Ware (11.5 sacks) and Anthony Spencer (11 sacks) led the pass rush, but overall were burned in the passing game again and again. And with few additions to the team so far, the Cowboys better hope new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin knows what he’s doing. But as usual with the Cowboys, they have the talent on paper to make the playoffs.