Despite completing four weeks of OTAs and mini-camp practices, several things remain unsettled for the Cowboys. When the team reports to training camp on July 28 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions still need answers.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp.
Today's question serves as a sort of follow-up on 2014. The Cowboys needed plenty of great performances to reach 12-4 and win the NFC East. Which of those will be the hardest to repeat?
14) Which performance from 2014 will be the hardest to match?
Rob Phillips: DeMarco Murray's not here anymore, right? OK, give me Tony Romo's NFL-best and club-record passer rating (113.2) and completion percentage (69.9). It's nearly impossible for any quarterback to play more efficiently than that from a statistical standpoint. But here's what he can do: play at his optimum for more games than last year and move around better than he did last year in stretches. If he isn't so rusty in Week 1 against San Francisco, if he doesn't get hurt in Week 8 against Washington, maybe the Cowboys win both those games and finish 14-2. Romo will need an effective run game again to keep defenses honest, but just the fact that he's healthier this summer gives him a better chance than 2014 to function as his normal self, week-to-week.
David Helman:It's hard for me to say this without it sounding like a knock against the guy – because it certainly isn't. But I struggle to see how Zack Martin can possibly top his rookie campaign with the Cowboys. He's already been named a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler as a rookie. He could have a fantastic 2015 season and still not live up to that, just by virtue of how good he was right off the bat. On top of that, he's now a known name around the NFL. I've got to imagine that being named an All-Pro is something that'll make your opponents pay extra attention when they're looking at your tape. I don't necessarily think Martin is going to have a "sophomore slump," but he has set an incredibly lofty standard to live up to, especially at his young age.
Nick Eatman: This was probably intended to be an individual category, and I initially thought of Dez Bryant's 16 touchdown catches as a stat that would be difficult to top. It took 55 years for a receiver to get to 16 touchdown receptions in one year, so it's unlikely he will top it. Then again, doubting Dez is not a good idea because he'll probably prove me wrong. So I'll go with another franchise first that we saw in 2014. As a team, I find it hard to believe they will match the perfect 8-0 road record from last year. Just going 3-0 in NFC East road games seems like a chore, not to mention the other five, which include trips to Miami, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and then December games at Green Bay and Buffalo. So I'm really stepping out there by stating the Cowboys won't go 8-0 on the road again, but that one seems pretty hard to top. [embeddedad0]
Bryan Broaddus: It would hard to believe that Tony Romo or Zack Martin could play as well as they did, but I am going to take a different approach and say it will be difficult for Rolando McClain to match his performance from last season. When McClain was healthy and on the field, this defense had a physical tone to it. His passion and emotion carried it through some situations where games could have gone either way but his presence was the difference. What worries me about McClain is his inconsistency and reliability -- on an off the field. I think that football is important to him, but not every minute of the day and for him to play as well as he did last season, he will have to make that commitment. I just don't feel like he can do it and that will affect the defense.
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