Dallas Cowboys 2015 Season Preview

09
Sep

2014 Record – 12-4

Key Additions

RB Darren McFadden, DE Greg Hardy, LB Jasper Brinkley, CB Byron Jones, OL La’el Collins, OLB Randy Gregory

Key Departures

RB DeMarco Murray, DT Henry Melton, LB Justin Durant, RT Jermey Parnell, WR/KR Dwayne Harris, DE George Selvie, OLB Anthony Spencer

Breakdown

Last year Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys finally broke through their streak of missed postseasons and 8-8 records by having the league’s leading rusher to play alongside an unstoppable Romo. The consistent and healthy offensive line was a huge factor and they only got better when first-round talent La’el Collins fell into their lap…after the draft. The team did however lose that leading rusher and didn’t do a ton to replace him. Jerry Jones has faith that Joseph Randle will be good enough to handle most of the load and the team is hopeful that Darren McFadden can shoulder some the rest of that burden.

The defensive front also got better by adding guys like Keith Rivers and Greg Hardy to the bunch that already hosts Rolando McClain and Sean Lee. Having playmakers on both sides of the ball and winning the battles in the trenches is what allowed the Cowboys to be so successful last year and they managed to keep most of that intact. However, the loss of Murray will prove to be more of a hurdle than thought. They are also unproven at cornerback. The Cowboys are still the Cowboys and even though they seem to have put it all together, too much headline grabbing and not enough attention to maintaining success will again be the reason this team fails to make the postseason.

X-Factor – Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle

You could call this the X and Y-factor because the Cowboys desperately need both of these guys to be good. Playing behind the league’s best line should be beneficial but the departure of DeMarco Murray means that a largely unproven Randle and consistently banged up McFadden will need to step up big time to have any form of balanced offense.

2015 Breakout Player – Tyrone Crawford

Crawford put himself in his coaches sights last season when he beat out Henry Melton for the starting defensive tackle position. He only managed three sacks throughout the whole season though. Coaches believe Crawford learned more than struggled, despite the statistics, the addition of Greg Hardy will also free up some space for Crawford to get after the quarterback.

Best Case

The running backs carry the weight necessary behind a dominant line and the offense rolls. 13-3

Worst Case

The loss of DeMarco Murray proves to be worse than anticipated and the playmakers on defense don’t play as a unit. 5-11

Key Game

November 1 vs. Seattle Seahawks

The Cowboys went into Seattle last year and beat the Seahawks for the second time in 19 home games, which not only was a major confidence booster but gave the Cowboys a shot at home field advantage late in the season. This game is early on the schedule but the stakes will be similar. If the Cowboys can win this game at home, they could be primed for another solid season.

Projected Record – 9-7

About the author: Matthew Palmateer