The Dallas Cowboys have had one of the busier offseasons so far in the NFL. To start, I'd like to say that the Cowboys had a great season with the circumstances that they were playing under. They played the whole season without leading tackler Sean Lee, not to mention that Jay Ratliff was out for majority of the games and never really got back to 100% this season. The Cowboys secondary was banged up the entire season, Demarcus Ware only played at full health for a few games, Felix Jones and Demarco Murray were both banged up this season so the running game never really took off, and by the final game of the season they were down to playing with 5th and 6th string WR's.
Because of the defenses poor performance this season, the Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. I wasn't too shocked with Ryan's firing because although the defense was banged up to say the least, even when the pieces began to come together he still couldn't get the defense to perform. I can't recall a single game this season where the defense played a great game, only a few good games at best. Jason Garrett was looking for big plays to boost the morale of the team and give them momentum, but the only two I can think of are the interception by Brandon Carr in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers and a fumble return for a touchdown by Morris Claiborne against the Eagles in their first match-up. In 16 regular season games, the Cowboys defense was only able to generate 16 turnovers (7 interceptions and 9 recovered fumbles), and that's just not enough. The Cowboys were negative in turnover margin and that's not playoff worthy at all. So with all of that said, I am perfectly fine with the firing of Rob Ryan and I'm very happy with who the Cowboys hired to take his place.
The Cowboys hired Monte Kiffin, defensive genius and legend, as their defensive coordinator. Kiffin will be transforming the defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3, trying to implement the Tampa 2 defense that won him a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers. In Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense, speed and skill is better than size, and for the Cowboys, this is actually a good thing. I believe that players like Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Demarcus Ware and Bruce Carter will have no problem transitioning into the 4-3. They're very talented players with room for growth. The Cowboys also hired Rod Marinelli as their defensive line coach. Marinelli and Kiffin will be reunited for the first time since their days of coaching the defense in Tampa. The fact that these two have already coached together is a major positive. They have chemistry, and they know how to win together. Lookout for the Cowboys defense in 2013 because I think they'll be one of the top 10 defenses next season.
Now to the offense. Tony Romo is either getting major love or major hate from Cowboys fans, but never anything in between. I myself am a Romo supporter, and I'm willing to debate this with anyone. Romo has the most passing yards in Dallas Cowboys history, and much like Ben Roethlisberger, Romo creates and extends plays with his feet. Ranking in the top 5 in passing yards this season with 4903 yards, Romo can obviously get the job done. The only problem is his interceptions, but by midseason Romo was actually very efficient and didn't throw many interceptions, he got off to a bad start this season and made his stats look worse then they actually were. So the rumors and speculations saying that Romo needs to go are just ridiculous. Romo will be back next season and rightfully so. The main problem that the Cowboys have on offense is the offensive line. The offensive line showed hope throughout the season, but overall it was shaky at best. Doug Free has a huge contract to live up to, and he didn't do that this season. Tyron Smith has talent, but he has to put in the work and actually show that he's a quality lineman. In my opinion, although it's not a flashy move, the Cowboys definitely need to draft an offensive lineman in the first or second round. If you look at the two teams in the Super Bowl this year, you'll see that they have tremendous offensive linemen. To succeed in this league you need to protect your quarterback, so the Cowboys need to invest in an offensive line this offseason if they hope to make a run at the playoffs next season.
Overall, the Cowboys offseason has been a great success so far. The hirings of Rod Marinelli and Monte Kiffin will greatly improve the defense. And although it's not confirmed, Jerry Jones strongly hinted at Jason Garrett giving up his play calling duties to Bill Callahan, and that could be a big positive for this team. It's been a great offseason so far, but the Cowboys still have a lot of work to do in the next few months.