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State of the Cowboys - Training Camp Preview
David Dorey
July 22, 2009
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This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2009.
Team Menu

Training Camp Opens: July 29
Head Coach: Wade Phillips (3rd year)
Stadium: Cowboys Stadium (Retractable Roof)  Surface: RealGrass Matrix
2009 Schedule   2009 Roster   2008 Statistics   2008 Record: 9-7

QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2006 42 130 2 506 310 61% 4067 13.1 26 21 7 5
2007 36 124 2 531 342 64% 4290 12.5 36 19 4 2
2008 30 40 0 545 327 60% 3946 12.1 29 20 9 4

Quarterback - The passing game in Dallas has been one of the NFL's most productive since Tony Romo and Terrell Owens joined forces. Even last year with Owens dropping passes and Romo missing three games, they still remained no worse than top ten in passing categories. But now Owens is gone and the Cowboys are talking about a return to a run-heavy offensive scheme. Romo has also broken up with Jessica Simpson so he's should have fewer distractions and without Owens maybe down to no distractions. The true test for Romo won't come for many months because it's all about December and getting the Cowboys over an apparently insurmountable hump. This time around - the Cowboys want to rely on Barber and Jones instead of the passing game.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2006 427 1795 4.2 19 53 34 64% 359 2 12 19 4
2007 383 1617 4.2 12 90 74 82% 542 2 17 16 13
2008 362 1626 4.5 12 96 77 80% 619 3 14 19 15

Running Backs - The Cowboys rushing game has not been much better than average in recent seasons but the plan is on changing that for 2009. Marion Barber has been a solid runner for several seasons now and the addition of Felix Jones ignited the offense for several games until Jones missed the final 11 games when turf toe ended his season. Jones rushed for a 8.9 yard average which offered a nice complement to the banging style of Barber. Once Jones was gone or very limited in the final four games from his own toe injury, the Cowboys discovered that the rookie Tashard Choice was great backup when he gained 5.1 yards on average with his 92 carries. The rushing game looked so good - at least in spurts and when players were healthy - that someone in Valley Ranch remembered the Super Bowl years were all about rushing Emmitt Smith and that the running game would become more showcased. The players are there so long as they are healthy and this unit wants to improve their ranking dramatically this year.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 335 196 59% 2818 14.4 23 8 3
2007 270 155 57% 2442 15.8 23 15 5
2008 279 142 51% 2102 14.8 18 19 5

Wide Receivers - The decline of Terrell Owens is evident in the sliding ranking for yardage by the Cowboys wideouts though he still maintained a healthy number of touchdowns. The Cowboys acquired Roy Williams from the Lions at great expense during last season but he only managed 19 catches for 198 yards and one score during the ten games he was a Cowboy. He is thrust into the #1 spot this season where he'll try to replicate his only good season of 2006 when he had 1310 yards and seven touchdowns in Detroit. Patrick Crayton starts camp as the #2 but there is limited expectations with him. He may be passed by Miles Austin who combines a 6'3" frame with a surprising speed. The intent this year is to focus more on the run which means this unit will almost certainly come in below the league average.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 120 78 65% 880 11.3 1 7 30
2007 165 113 68% 1306 11.6 11 2 2
2008 160 109 68% 1267 11.6 8 1 4

Tight Ends
- What will happen with Jason Witten? He's already an elite tight end and now that Terrell Owens is gone, does that make him even more productive? Between he and Owens, they accounted for about half of all the passes thrown last year. Witten had 121 passes thrown to him (Owens 140) which was second only to Tony Gonzalez last season. Martellus Bennett only had 20 catches last year but gained 283 yards and scored four touchdowns. That helped the Cowboys to have the #1 ranking in tight end yardage for 2008.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - There are several angles of note this year. First off, the absence of Owens is huge and the need for Roy Williams to step up is great. The Cowboys need to see Williams taking that next step. Patrick Crayton may be penciled in across from Williams but it is expected that Austin will pass him in training camp. That may not result in all that much fantasy value but the Cowboys will need to throw in many if not most games despite their stated desire to rush the ball more. Another big key to the year is seeing that Felix Jones is healthy again (he is) and that he can pickup where he left off in 2008.

Determining what the mixture of Barber and Jones will be can be hinted at in training camp, along with how much even Choice may show up.

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Team-by-Team Offensive Line Review and Ratings
Head Coaching Changes and Their Fantasy Impact
Ease of Schedule for Quarterbacks
Ease of Schedule for Running Backs
Ease of Schedule for Receivers
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