Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Cowboys regular-season wrap-up

By Matt Mosley

NFC Wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 18
Preseason Power Ranking: 4

Mike Jenkins
Mike Jenkins finished the season with only one interception.
Biggest surprise: A defense that had been the backbone of the team in 2009 collapsed in 2010. Players eventually quit on coach Wade Phillips, causing him to be fired after a 1-7 start. The Cowboys' defense gave up a staggering amount of passing touchdowns and it often cratered late in games. Players such as outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, who took major steps forward in 2009, reverted to their old ways. It was surprising early in the season that Roy Williams was one of the most productive offensive players, but he faded once Tony Romo suffered what turned out to be a season-ending shoulder injury.

Biggest disappointment: The season was such a disaster that it's hard to pinpoint one player, but for clarity sake, let's go with cornerback Mike Jenkins. He appeared to be on the verge of stardom following a breakout season in 2009, but he was burned repeatedly in 2010 and then he shied away from contact on a Green Bay touchdown in a 45-7 loss on national TV. Jenkins was expected to become one of the Cowboys' best players on defense, but he had an awful season and probably deserved to be benched at one point.

Biggest need: The Cowboys need to overhaul the offensive line. Marc Colombo was exposed at right tackle by quick defensive ends and right guard Leonard Davis is no longer a dominant player. Left tackle Doug Free is the only offensive lineman who had a solid season. You could see the Cowboys attempting to change out as many as three spots along the line. Dallas needs to bring in talent via the draft or free agency. The Cowboys also need help at safety. There's no reason for Alan Ball to start in 2011 based on how he performed. And it's time to start figuring out who will replace Terence Newman at cornerback. Orlando Scandrick actually had a decent season, but I'm not sure he's ready to take over for Newman full-time.

Team MVP: Jason Witten. Once Tony Romo suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, tight end Witten stepped up his game and became a big-time weapon for Jon Kitna. DeMarcus Ware had a lot of sacks, but he disappeared in too many games. I think Witten was a huge part of the Cowboys finishing the second half of the season 5-3.

Worst moment: You have to go all the way back to the last play of the first half against the Washington Redskins in Week 1. The Cowboys simply needed to kneel and head to the locker room, but Garrett called a short passing play that fans will never forget. Tashard Choice caught the pass, but he fumbled while fighting for extra yardage. DeAngelo Hall raced the other direction to score a touchdown. On a night when Donovan McNabb and the Skins' offense couldn't do much, it was exactly what the Redskins needed.