DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – We can no longer bitch about Terence Newman being embarrassed as a human hurdle by Giants’ tight end Bear Pascoe. Alan Ball can no longer be blamed the blown coverage. Montrae Holland’s bean-bag body is no longer the punch-line for the joke of an offensive line.
Nope, the Cowboys will different in 2012. But will they be better.
After signing NFL free agents, drafting seven players and signing 21 undrafted rookies, the Cowboys have the makings of the roster they will take to Oxnard, California for training camp in July.
Let’s break it down position-by-position on offense – defense to come next week – and see if there’s improvement, or merely change.
2011: Tony Romo; Jon Kitna; Kyle Orton; Stephen McGee
2012: Tony Romo Kyle Orton; Stephen McGee
Better. With better protection and even further grounded mindset as a father, Romo should be healthier and happier – and even more productive – than his 4,000-yard, 31-touchdown, punctured-lung season. Orton a younger, better player than Kitna.
2011: Tony Fiametta
2012: Lawrence Vickers
Better. While Fiametta was decent, Vickers is an above-average receiver who cleared holes in Houston for Arian Foster.
2011: DeMarco Murray; Felix Jones; Phillip Tanner
2012: DeMarco Murray; Felix Jones; Phillip Tanner
Same. Will Murray be better in his second season or will the effects of that gruesome broken leg retard his development?
2011: Jason Witten; Martellus Bennett; John Phillips
2012: Jason Witten; John Phillips; James Hannah
Better. I know the Cowboys claim Bennett was a great blocker, but his hands also cost Romo interceptions and his lack or urgency only weakened the position. Hannah, the rookie from Oklahoma, has the athleticism to make big plays down the field.
2011: Miles Austin; Dez Bryant; Laurent Robinson
2012: Miles Austin; Dez Bryant; Kevin Ogletree
Worse. Robinson caught 11 touchdowns before signing with Jacksonville as a free agent. Ogletree has been given this job twice and lost it. Fifth-round draft pick Danny Coale from Virginia Tech is said to be a poor man’s Wes Welker.
2011: Doug Free; Derrick Dockery; Phil Costa; Kyle Kosier; Tyron Smith
2012: Tyron Smith; Mackenzy Bernadeau; Phil Costa; Nate Livings; Doug Free
Better. Smith is a monster and Free is back on the right side, where he was spectacular in 2010. Costa needs to get stronger to protect Romo from in-his-face pressure. Bernadeau and Livings better be worth their free-agent money.
2011: Dan Bailey
2012: Dan Bailey
Same. You’d think Bailey would get better in his second season. But with handling kickoffs full-time and without David Buehler pushing him, you never know. He’s a kicker, after all.
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