IRVING, Texas – For the last two seasons under Jason Garrett, the Dallas Cowboys have had a chance to win the NFC East title only to fall short in games against the Giants and Redskins.
My expectations for the club were not particularly high going into either season, but I have a much different thought going into this campaign. I have learned over my years in this league not to look so much as who you play but who currently plays for you. If you would have asked me before last season who I thought was the most talented team in the East was, I would have said the Eagles but as the season played out and their record ended up 4-12, I wasn't even close.
This is not an excuse but for the Cowboys to win eight games last season with the injuries that this team suffered on both sides of the ball, it was numbing, and with a chance to win the division, it was honestly a miracle.
Can this team win 11 games? You bet it can. Even though injury is part of the game, I don't feel like this defense will lose Sean Lee and Jay Ratliff for over half the season, I don't feel like that DeMarco Murray will miss six games and I know that DeMarcus Ware will be 100% healthy by the time the season opens against the Giants. All these injuries crippled a team that still managed to finish 8-8.
I have said this a bunch on "Talkin' Cowboys," give me this defense healthy with Lee, Carter, Ratliff and Ware and the outcome in several of those loses, I believe it is a different story. I feel the very same way about Murray and without him in the running game as bad as it was at times, he still gave you a chance just on his ability.
Don't focus on who this team plays and where but focus on Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Tony Romo and Tyron Smith. Focus on Miles Austin, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Focus on guys like Anthony Spencer and Barry Church, these names are the reason why this club will win more games. Coaches put players in position to make plays, it's something that we hear all the time from Jason Garrett.
Great players tend to make great [embedded_ad]
coaches, just ask Phil Jackson about that. Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli have a solid plan on defense and you can see how players are in better position to make plays and it's more about that than trying to out trick the opponent. From my experiences with Bill Callahan, he has always played to the strengths of his players and along with this offensive staff, he will find ways to move the ball consistently and finish drives.
We all learned last season what a factor injury can play in these games on a week-to-week basis but I have always believed this: It's about the Jimmy's and Joe's and not the X's and O's. I have the utmost respect for the coaches in this league but generally the most talented teams win. This team when healthy, can compete with any other in the league and if that remains the case, they will be the difference in three more victories in 2013.