I have to briefly rant. I’ve heard this line used far too often lately, with NFL Network’s Jamie Dukes breaking my camel’s back with it on Monday evening. The Dallas Cowboys are a good football team, no doubt. But the public’s impression of the talent on “America’s Team” has always been significantly inflated.
I would describe Dallas as a team with more talent than your average NFL squad. But I’d also like to suggest that more than half a dozen teams — the Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Eagles, Packers, Saints and maybe even the Jets and Texans — have more talent than the Cowboys.
Okay, here comes the unstructured rant.
When you actually look at the Cowboys’ roster, you realize that on a sliding scale they’re closer to ordinary than special. Yes, Jason Witten’s a top-three tight end and DeMarcus Ware is the best pass rusher in the game. And yes, Jay Ratliff is one hell of a nose tackle who merits All-Pro votes perennially. But beyond that, do they really have any other elite players?
Tony Romo is good, not spectacular. Or at least not consistently great. Everyone’s lauding his herculean Week 2 effort, but he was a disaster in Week 1 and he falls on his face far too often in crucial situations.
Felix Jones has yet to establish himself as a No. 1 back, let alone a Pro Bowler.
Miles Austin has superstar ability when healthy and Dez Bryant is undeniably talented, but both are hurt right now, Bryant was hurt for much of 2010 and Austin has also had issues with consistency.
The offensive line is tremendously overrated by those who don’t actually pay close attention to the games. Sometimes I feel as though people forget that Andre Gurode, Flozell Adams and Leonard Davis are washed up and no longer in Big D. Two rookies are starting on the line this year, and left tackle Doug Free isn’t exactly shining. The unit’s elder statesman, Kyle Kosier, is off to a terrible start in 2011. Not one offensive lineman on the current roster has been to a Pro Bowl.
In Dallas’ defense, it does lead the league in sacks this year, but 40 percent of the team’s 10 quarterback takedowns have come courtesy of Ware. Beyond him, there isn’t a lot of pass-rushing talent. Ware also had over 40 percent of the Cowboys’ 35 sacks in 2010. His top complement, Anthony Spencer, saw his production fizzle last season.
As for the rest of the front seven, they’re still awaiting the emergence of Sean Lee, Keith Brooking is no longer effective enough to start, ends Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher are unspectacular journeyman types and Bradie James is a good player, not an exceptional one.
And then there’s the abysmal secondary. Terence Newman’s best days are far behind him, and he can’t stay on the field anyway. There was a lot of hype surrounding fellow corner Mike Jenkins going into 2010, but Jenkins was torched throughout the season and now finds himself dealing with a slew of injury problems in 2011. This is a defense that surrendered a league-high 33 touchdowns through the air while giving up a disgusting 27.2 points per game last year. I refuse to believe there’s a lot of talent to be found on the back end.
Because of some of the key cogs like Ware, Witten, Ratliff, Romo, Austin and Bryant, the Cowboys are a good team. If they’re healthy and focused, they’re clearly a playoff team. But because they play in prime time a lot and get so much national media exposure, we tend to buy into a myth that they’re a lot more talented than they actually are.
End of rant.