OXNARD, Calif. - The Cowboys have returned from what Jerry Jones called a highly successful training camp. Not sure how, but I am in no mood to argue. Just go with it.
After spending a week out there with the team, here are some random observations about this team thus far:
There is no reason not to be scared to death of the defensive front seven
Jason Garrett said there have been times in his tenure when he thought his team was over-matched, and that because of that it looked like this team quit.
There is a better than average chance his team will be overmatched defensively beginning in Week 1.
Unless Rolando McClain decides he cares and Anthony Spencer can return from micro fracture surgery, there is no reliable player on the front seven who can pressure passers, or command a double team.
Best case is that defensive tackle Henry Melton returns to his Pro Bowl from the Bears before he blew out his knee.
Bruce Carter looks done
The linebacker two years ago that NBC color analyst Chris Collinsworth raved about as one of the best young linebackers in the game is gone. Whether it is this team’s switch to the 4-3, the return from injury that ended his 2012 season with four games remaining, or just plain indifference, Carter continues to look like a player who is on this team only because there are not other options.
He is going to be given every opportunity to produce, but thus far it looks like the light is out in Carter.
They built a good offense
Even if Brandon Weeden has to play because Tony Romo is hurt this offense should be able to move, and control, the ball. The offensive line is as good as it’s been in years. Receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams are one of the NFL’s top five duos in the league. DeMarco Murray and now even Joseph Randle are legit.
Offense will not be this team's problem. If it is, all hope is lost.
Ahmad Dixon will make the team, and play
The rookie seventh round pick from Baylor has impressed everyone thus far at camp with his fearless, and instinctive play. In little time he demonstrated when to support the line, and how to get over in coverage.
The problem is that already his size - he listed generously as 6-0, 205 - lends itself to injury. He is not reckless, but fearless and will hit anybody. He has been out with concussion like symptoms, and given the way he plays that is not a great sign.
The Cowboys will carry three quarterbacks
It has been many years since the Cowboys carried three on the roster, but undrafted rookie free agent Dustin Vaughan is going to make the team as the No. 3. At 6-5, 233 he has the size and fits the perfect description of a developmental player this team does not want to expose to the waiver wire.
Hope for 1 of three between Spencer, McClain & Okoye hits
The Cowboys added defensive lineman Amobi Okoye and linebacker Rolando McClain and kept defensive end Anthony Spencer. Only Spencer played last season; that was about one half against the Chiefs.
The fact the team added this trio shows how desperate they are for front seven help. If one of these three does anything meaningful, call it a coup.
The NFC East makes this a possibility
What has bailed out the Cowboys in each of the past three years is a division that consistently is one of the NFL’s least-good from top to bottom.
With the possible exception of the Philadelphia Eagles, no team looks that much better than the rest. Given the first-to-worst, worst-to-first nature of the NFL, it would surprise no one if the Eagles were not able to duplicate their record from a season ago.
It’s worth noting the Cowboys were 5-1 against the NFC East last season, and 3-7 against the rest of the league.
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