Cowboys look to rebound from tough finish
July, 26, 2013
By Micah Adams, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Gus RuelasThe pressure is on Jason Garrett despite a vote of confidence from Jerry Jones
Is the problem Jason Garrett or Jerry Jones?
Jason Garrett is 21-19 as the Cowboys head coach since taking over in the middle of the 2010 season.
The Cowboys have finished in third place in each of the last three seasons in the NFC East. Dallas has never finished outside the top two in their division in four straight seasons since the NFL split its conferences into divisions in 1967.
In each of the last two seasons, the Cowboys have started 8-6 before losing their final two games to finish 8-8. Dallas has lost a Week 17 “win-and-in” game in each of these past two years.
Is Tony Romo worth his new contract?
Dallas signed Tony Romo to a six-year extension on April 1 that includes $55 million in guaranteed money, tied with Drew Brees for the third-most in any active NFL contract (Matt Ryan reportedly signed a new deal on July 25 that guarantees $59 million; while Tom Brady is guaranteed $57 million on his deal).
Romo has been the Cowboys starting QB for two full seasons under Garrett, ranking among the top four QBs in completion percentage and pass yards in that span.
However, Romo threw 19 interceptions (tied for the most in the NFL) and led the league with eight interceptions when under duress last season.
Can Dez Bryant back up his breakout season?
Over the last seven weeks of last season, Dez Bryant led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (nine) and ranked third in receiving yards per game (113.1).
Bryant finished with 1,382 receiving yards and 12 TDs last season, joining Terrell Owens in 2007 as the only players with 1,300 receiving yards and 12 TDs in a season in team history.
Will the Cowboys fix their running game?
Dallas ranked 31st in the NFL in rush yards per game last season at 79.1, the lowest rate in team history. In fact, the team finished in the bottom six in yards per rush (30th, at 3.6), yards after contact (30th, with 522) and rush TD (T-27th with eight).
Tailback DeMarco Murray has shown flashes but has battled injuries in his two seasons. Murray missed six games with a foot injury last season and a hamstring injury caused him to miss parts of Cowboys OTAs this offseason.
Since Murray’s breakout game (253 rush yards) in Week 7 of 2011, he ranks among the top eight in the league in rushing yards per game and yards per rush.
What changes will Monte Kiffin make?
Rob Ryan was fired after two seasons as the Cowboys coordinator and replaced by Monte Kiffin, who is expected to change the Cowboys to a 4-3 defensive scheme.
Kiffin has spent 26 years as an NFL defensive assistant, including 15 as defensive coordinator. Kiffin, the architect of the “Tampa 2” defense, spent 13 years as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator, helping lead the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title after the 2002 season.
Dallas was exposed downfield last season, allowing a league-worst 96.9 Total QBR on throws more than 10 yards downfield.