What else went right in 2011

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
3:03
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Today we wrapped up the What Went Right in 2011 for the Cowboys’ series and you can click on the links below to get a recap.

But more than five things went right, even in an 8-8 season that finished with the Cowboys losing four of their final five.

** Laurent Robinson. Little was expected of him when the Cowboys signed him and even less was expected when he hurt his hamstring in his first practice, which led to his release. Once he was re-signed, he was too good to be true. He had 11 touchdown catches and had 54 receptions for 858 yards. He has to be one of the Cowboys’ top priorities in free agency but if a team wants to blow him away with an offer the Cowboys will have to let him go.

** Mike Jenkins. The former first-round pick displayed a toughness some wondered he had after an abysmal 2010 season in which he had too many penalties. He played through a stinger and shoulder injuries but a hamstring strain kept him on the shelf for four games. When he played he was the Cowboys top cornerback and that is not meant to as faint praise. He is in the final year of his contract and the Cowboys should want to keep him.

** Pro personnel department. They found Robinson, Tony Fiammetta, Frank Walker, Montrae Holland and Sammy Morris and all five players helped the team win games. Walker slumped badly down the stretch, but it’s not easy picking guys up off the street and the Cowboys had more hits here.

** Dez Bryant. He developed as a receiver in his second year and was on the field for 15 games. He continues to need work but improved at his craft as the year went on. As Jean-Jacques Taylor wrote, this is a huge offseason for Bryant in terms of his maturity.

** DeMarcus Ware. Complain all you want about how “quiet” his sacks were, but there is not a team in the league that wouldn’t want Ware. He had 19.5 sacks and played hurt down the stretch. Ware was named an All-Pro again, so he had to be doing something right.

Here's the top five:

DeMarco Murray emerges as No. 1 back

Emergence of kicker Dan Bailey

Sean Lee takes over at inside linebacker

Tyron Smith takes over at right tackle

Tony Romo returned to form

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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