I was looking at 8-8 with Ware and Lee gone. But the play of McClain really surprised me. He looked like the best player out there last week. If he plays like a top 10 pick what kind of a team are we now looking at?
Rowan: I would still temper expectations. You're probably overshooting most people's expectations at 8-8, but if you thought that before, I'm not sure McClain singlehandedly changes that. That's not to diminish what McClain has shown, though. He looks like he could be the best defender on the team, and he'll be a huge help in the middle. But the Cowboys still need to find a consistent pass rush, and I think that's line one on defense.
David: There's no doubt that McClain looked fantastic, but I'm not sure he could single-handedly fix this defense if he was playing at an All-Pro level. If you'll remember, Sean Lee was leading the league in tackles and interceptions as we neared the halfway point last year, and this defense still struggled plenty. I think McClain has to continue playing well if the Cowboys are going to defy the low expectations people have for them, and perhaps he can make the difference in a few games. He's going to need some help, though – particularly from guys like Orlando Scandrick and DeMarcus Lawrence, who aren't currently with the team.
I'm sure DeMarco Murray knows the definition of insanity. With the coaching staff continuing to take the ball out of his hands when they get near the goal line, is it reasonable to wonder if Murray might hesitate, himself, to renew his contract when that time comes?
Rowan:We were just casually discussing this today, actually. I think if he was offered some sort of a great deal, he'd still take it. But if it wasn't what he was looking for, he could point to the times he wasn't allowed to finish off [embedded_ad] drives and find a team who would let him. That said, he was the only Cowboys running back to rush the ball in the game and he did get more than 20 carries. He's the bell cow in Dallas and one of the few running backs in this league not to be in any real committee system. But he has a right to be angry about the lack of an opportunity late in drives, and I think that's at least a reasonable thought.
David: Given the way running backs are being paid in the NFL today – which is to say, they aren't – I think Murray would go wherever he can get the best deal that offers him the most security. If that's Dallas, so be it. But if he's got a comparable offer from a team with a better track record of featuring their tailbacks and letting them shine, I wouldn't be surprised to see him take it. It's not as common as it used to be, but there are still NFL teams that lean heavily on the ground game. Provided he stays healthy, I think Murray has the talent to be the centerpiece of an offense.