Well, one week from today, I will be writing my first post-game summary of the season, and we will be making huge generalizations about the 2009 season based on what we saw on Sunday in Tampa. But, with 6 days until "go time", we can still wonder what will be in that present we haven't opened yet. Will the Cowboys be good enough in 2009? Will they have enough to compete with their division rivals, who many claim is the toughest division in football (don't tell the AFC South and NFC North)? The truth will be told in very short order. Soon, I will look at the division rivals, but today, let's scattershoot about this thing with a week to go:
* First, let's get something straight about what I believe regarding the NFL. I believe that many teams have "good starters". I believe what seperates the good from the bad in this league is your depth. It is your only chance to enter a 16 game meat grinder and emerge from the other side intact. This team's single biggest weakness is its depth. It has very, very little. I think people get tired of me saying it, but I cannot tell a lie. I believe the ultimate un-doing of the season is going to be the very poor drafting for the last 4 drafts coming home to roost. Specifically, injuries to the OL, DL, LB, or DB will be devastating. You must draft with effectiveness, and you could make the case that the Cowboys have failed. For instance, a draft 4 seasons removed, like the 2006 draft should have yielded 3-4 starters to be great, or at least 2 to be solid. The Cowboys have exactly 0 starters from that draft. And, 2007, may hinge completely on Anthony Spencer proving he is the real deal and Doug Free proving he can enter a game and not get embarrassed.
Again, my concern is the depth of this team - and it is scary in a shallow sort of way. It might not be seen in September or October, but as the march continues, and soldiers get wounded, the reserves become starters. Then, we truly see how prepared your team is for a 16-20 game season. By the way, if this is true, and if your September is based on about your first 30 players, October on your first 35, November on your first 40, and December on your 45, would that explain the falling off of the team's performance around the holidays? Just a quick theory to ponder. No depth equals trouble when injuries happen. And they always do.
* Why does the NFL have a 4th week of the preseason? I understand Romo or Favre sitting the game out, but when Gerald Sensabaugh doesn't even wear shoulder pads (and he has eyeglasses on) and Bradie James has a cell phone on his hip - shouldn't we reconsider how things are done in this league? Neither team played any starters? How can the NFL allow this nonsense? Talk about not paying any attention to your customers!
* One thing I wanted to get a handle on in camp was to evaluate the play of the two tackles who are one snap from being in the game. OT Doug Free (4th round '07) and OT Pat McQuistan (7th round '06) could both be called into duty. And because OT James Marten (3rd round '07) and Jacob Rogers (2nd round '04) are washed out of the organization completely, Free and McQ have to be able to play if Colombo or Adams ever get hurt. So here is what I have on them: Free looks like he can move better than McQ, but he also looks a bit weaker. So, you have Free who can get to the corner but can be pushed back, and McQ who can not get to the corner, but can drop anchor a bit better. Either way, I don't think either guy is a long-term solution at tackle.
* Interesting and disconcerting to see Isaiah Stanback claimed by New England for many Cowboys fans, I am sure. But I think the Cowboys made an easy choice. 3 years is a lifetime in pro football, and Stanback had plenty of time to show he deserved a spot. Projects are part of the NFL, but at some point he has got to show you something. If the Patriots think he is a QB, then I wish them the best. He might be, but he is not a WR/KR/QB triple threat like the scouts here thought. Another wasted pick (#103 in 2007) that will further cost this team. You see, if you are taking a flyer on a player, you might do it much later on in the draft. But, when you do it near the top 100 picks, you really deplete your resources if you are wrong. And they were dead wrong on Stanback. The New York Giants next two picks after Stanback? LB Zak DeOssie and TE Kevin Boss. Two significant contributers to the Giants.
* It is time. You open against a team that doesn't know who its QB should be, fired its OC last week, and is rolling with a coach who has never been anything above a DB coach in the NFL. To say the Cowboys must win a game like this is an extreme understatement. It would be a very bad sign not to take apart the Bucs on Sunday. I see Vegas has the Cowboys as a 5 1/2 point favorite.