everyone wants more from him, but just remember, you got 63 catches for 928 yards and NINE touchdowns from a guy who basically played two years of college ball, missed most of training camp his rookie season, some last year and really is in his first full and much-needed offseason with the team right now. Heck, Michael Irvin never had more than 10 touchdown receptions in a season during his Hall of Fame career, and didn't catch more than 63 passes in a season until his fourth. Give this kid some rope. His time is now.
The defense as a whole? Not great last year, but significantly better than 2010. You guys remember 2010, don't you? The 1-7 start that got Wade Phillips fired? That defense giving up a franchise-record 436 points, most in 51 seasons, for proper perspective? Well, the Cowboys did give up 89 fewer points last year (347), going from 27.25 a game to 21.7. Any chance that group improves in their second season under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan? Maybe cut down on the six times the Cowboys needed to score more than 25 points to win a game, or the four times it would have required more than 31 points to win a game?
I'll be the first to tell you the pass-rush must become more consistent. But having said that, the Cowboys did finish tied for seventh last year with 42 sacks, eight behind league-leaders Minnesota and Philadelphia and six behind the Super Bowl champs and Baltimore. So it's not as if they were totally out of touch with the best. And they still have DeMarcus Ware, his 19.5 sacks second to Jared Allen's 22, and maybe the league's most consistent pass rusher there is, last year becoming the only active NFL player with at least 10 sacks in six consecutive seasons.
Let's see, the Cowboys have improved at fullback, Lawrence Vickers taking over for a combination of many, including Tony Fiammetta, who wasn't all that bad when healthy, it's just that he wasn't healthy enough.
As good as Jon Kitna was, the Cowboys got younger and better at backup quarterback by signing Kyle Orton to a three-year deal. He doesn't turn 30 until November, and just recently Pro Football Weekly rated the six-year veteran with 69 starts the best backup quarterback in the league, ahead of Jason Campbell, Jake Locker, Chad Henne and Shaun Hill.
Also, don't fall asleep on such young guys as Barry Church, competing for the starting free safety spot with free-agent signee Brodney Pool, or first-year receiver Andre Holmes, competing for the third receiver spot. Did I mention Dallas didn't do all that bad last year with a rookie kicker, 24-year-old Dan Bailey?
Let's also not forget the Cowboys were operating with a first-year head coach, too. Not just a first-year NFL head coach, but Jason Garrett was a head coach for an entire season for the first time in his entire life. Guarantee you he'll get better.
And ... oh yeah, the quarterback, that Tony Romo guy. Maybe he won't have to play nearly half the season with a broken rib and punctured lung. Or maybe the running game can get him more than the five rushing touchdowns the Cowboys totaled last year, a 52-year franchise low, and to think even one of those was his.
That means of the 39 touchdowns the Cowboys scored last year, Romo accounted for 32, Kitna and Stephen McGee one each and the departed Terence Newman the other. In other words, if Romo didn't have a hand in a touchdown, chances were the Cowboys weren't scoring. And they still managed 23 points a game, thanks mostly to Romo posting his third, and only the Cowboys' third, 4,000-yard passing season – 4,184 yards, just 28 short of his second-most passing yards in a season, that pass Miles Austin couldn't find against the Giants, for example.
Not only that, Romo had his best touchdown-to-interception differential of his career, 31 to 10, so consequently his career-best passer rating of 102.5, fourth best in the NFL last year behind only the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
So can we just can the when is Tony Romo going to finally step up and play better junk when last year he was more efficient than he's ever been, arguably his career best season. Did I say perfect? Nope, he wasn't, but then when you throw 522 times, you never are. Sometimes teams must win those games anyway.
And wait, one last thing: Did I mention