How ‘bout them Cowboys? Seriously. Has anyone heard a peep from or about them?
Considering the star of their offseason is their new stadium and that the biggest controversy generated came thanks to the oversized Magnavox hanging from the roof of the joint, it’s clearly a different kind of Dallas team in 2009.
Glitz is out -- Tony Romo put Jessica Simpson out to pasture and T.O. got shuffled off to Buffalo -- and focus is in.
But is it too little too late? Can this previously self-impressed team led by velvet-glove coach Wade Phillips change its personality that quickly? Or is underachieving in their DNA?
Consider this: the Cowboys have gone 1-3 in their final four games in the past three seasons. The year before that, 2005, they went 1-2. That’s 4-12 for those of you not mathematically inclined. And that’s an ingrained pattern.
Offensively, the loss of Terrell Owens hurts. His replacement, Roy Williams, is certainly talented but, even with Owens at 35, But Williams has not shown he can carry T.O.'s jock. Still, the jury can hold off on a verdict until seeing how Williams works with Romo after a full offseason to get to know each other.
The Cowboys real offensive talent is at tight end with Jason Witten and running back with Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, whose head coaching stock has plummeted in recent seasons, would be wise to funnel the offense through them and not let the impetuous Romo get too silly as he’s apt to do.
The trouble is, the Cowboys are going to allow bushels of points. DeMarcus Ware is terrific but Chris Canty, a defensive end, is gone replaced by a slipping Igor Olshansky. The Cowboys also added aging linebacker Keith Brooking and so-so free safety Gerald Sensabaugh to a defense that played without discipline against the pass and -- in the season’s final month -- without heart against the run.
But the Cowboys are rated this highly based on the talent they can roll out there on offense and the presence of Ware -- arguably the NFL’s best defender -- on defense. But Leadbottom Phillips has rarely gotten the best out of his team’s talent as a head coach.
The Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game since before Tiger won his first Masters. Unless the Dallas gets to the postseason and wins a game, Phillips is likely done.
Key player: Flozell Adams. We’ll go off the board here and say that the aging left tackle, who struggled at times in 2008, has got to return to a semblance of himself. If not, Romo gets flushed from the blind side, runs around, throws stupid passes and, inevitably, hurts a thumb or pinky. And the Dallas offense, which should be trying to get more conservative this year, gets loopy.
Rookie to watch: Kevin Ogletree. We select Ogletree, an undrafted player who made the team as the fifth wideout, because virtually every player the Cowboys drafted has gotten hurt and will be on the mend for significant time. If we could say none, we’d say none.
Best veteran acquisition: Olshansky. And the former Chargers defensive end gets the nod here by default over Sensabaugh -- a burgeoning turd -- and the aged Brooking.
Key game: Week One at Tampa Bay. Everything’s bigger in Texas and, if the Cowboys get slapped around by the rebuilding Buccaneers, the rock kicking will be massive.