NFL

Super Bowl Boom or Bust: Dallas Cowboys

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After years of mediocrity, the Dallas Cowboys finally gave their fans something to be proud of. The Cowboys finished the regular season 12-4, which was good enough to take the NFC East crown for the first time in six years.

Unfortunately, Dallas was unable to reach the NFC Championship game, after the infamous incompletion to superstar Dez Bryant.

With the 2015 season right around the corner, many are questioning if Dallas was just a one-hit wonder and if they’re not, do they have what it takes to reach that next level?

As far as Dallas being a one-hit wonder goes, it’s likely not the case. Outside of DeMarco Murray, Dallas didn’t lose anyone who’s not replaceable.

Even in Murray’s case, with Dallas having the best offensive line in the league any solid running back should be able to flourish behind them.

According to running backs coach Gary Brown, Darren McFadden is looking to be that guy.

“He wants to prove that he wasn’t the bust that people are talking about,” Brown stated. “We are going to give him the opportunity to prove that.”

Joseph Randle showed flashes of potential last year, but look for McFadden to see the bulk of the carries, if he can stay healthy.

“He is a great for the outside zone scheme, put-his-foot-in-the-ground type guy,” Brown said. “He wants to get going forward. He has tremendous speed. That is a positive. We just have to get him going on the other stuff.”

Behind the tremendous season Murray had, Dallas finished only behind Seattle in total rushing just a season ago.

While Dallas may not be as productive on the ground as last year, McFadden feels he has something special to show America.

“I just want to go out there and continue to show people what I can do,” McFadden said. “I still don’t think the world has seen the best of Darren McFadden.”

Neither McFadden nor Randle will be able to replace Murray single-handedly, but if they’re able to do it as a collective unit then Dallas’ offense should rank amongst tops in the league yet again.

The much maligned Tony Romo silenced his haters last year, as he threw for 3,705 yards to go along with 34 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.

Romo was heavily considered for the MVP award, but fell short at the hands of Aaron Rodgers.

However, individual success isn’t what fuels Romo nowadays.

“In my first three years, it was about what I was going to accomplish, what I was going to do and how great I was going to become. Somewhere in that process, that shifted, and it became about ‘we,'” Romo said.

After the veteran quarterback received the Nancy Lieberman Lifetime Achievement Award this past spring, Romo ended his acceptance speech with something Cowboys fans love to hear.

“This award is very meaningful to me, mostly because I get to be associated with this and to be associated with Nancy,” Romo said of the former WNBA coach, per The Dallas Morning News. “It’s incredible and I really appreciate you, and we’re going to win a Super Bowl next year.”

The Romo-Bryant connection would obviously play a major factor if Dallas were to reach the promised land.

Nonetheless, one thing holding Dallas back could be their defense. This unit was good against the run in 2014, but defending opponents passing attack was a totally different ballgame.

Dallas ranked 26th against the pass. A lot of that can be contributed to the Cowboys inability to get consistent pressure on the quarterback.

The Cowboys only totaled 28 sacks, which was near the bottom in the league. To Jerry Jones credit, he didn’t just ignore the weakness as he brought in Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory.

On the flip side, Hardy is currently facing a 10-game suspension, but Jerry Jones truly believes in what Gregory can do on the field.

It’s easy to see his talent, very easy to see,” Jones said about his second-round pick. “His willingness to take coaching from his teammates, as well as the coaches themselves – all of those things, you like. Those are intangibles.”

If the Cowboys pass rush is able to drastically improve, guys like Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr will just look that much better, which in turn will give Dallas a legitimate shot to come out of the NFC.

No matter what happens this upcoming season, it must be refreshing for Cowboys fans just to know they have something to look forward to.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.