By Mike Lucas
Featured Columnist

The Dallas Cowboys finished the 2012-13 NFL season with an 8-8 record, once again missing the playoffs.

Most of the Cowboys offseason moves this year were made on the coaching staff. Dallas signed Monte Kiffin to be their defensive coordinator and gave the play calling responsibilities to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan.

As far as players go, Dallas is returning almost their entire team from 2012, with the exception having added safety Will Allen and linebacker Justin Durant to the mix. The team did not lose any key contributors from last year.

Head coach Jason Garrett is on the hot seat in 2013, and the only way to save his job will be to lead this team back to the playoffs.

With that said, here is the Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 NFL season preview.


The Cowboys had one of the most unbalanced offensive attacks in the NFL last year, finishing the season ranked third in passing yards per game and 31st in rushing yards per game.

With Bill Callahan calling the plays in 2013, look for these rankings to be much more balanced. Callahan is a run-first type of play caller while Jason Garrett loved to throw the ball down field.

Tony Romo had a great statistical season last year, throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. He can sling it with the best of them, but Romo still hasn’t proven he can make the big plays when necessary, though.

This was once again on display during the last game of the 2012 season. In that Week 17 matchup against the Washington Redskins, Romo completed only 54 percent of his passes, and was picked off three times.

The winner of that game determined the winner of the NFC East, with Robert Griffin III and Washington coming out on top. Romo will need to be better in the big situations in 2013 if this Cowboys team is going to make any noise.

Romo definitely has a lot of weapons to throw to ball to, as the Cowboys have one of the best receiving corps in the league.

Dez Bryant is an absolute beast and Miles Austin has proven he can be very productive when healthy. Throw sure-handed Jason Witten into the mix and Dallas has weapons all over the field. Rookie Terrance Williams could surprise a lot of people this year, too.

One of the biggest reasons the Cowboys were so bad at running the ball last season was that starting running back DeMarco Murray missed six games due to injury. Felix Jones replaced Murray while he was out, but Jones isn’t nearly as good as Murray.

With Murray entering the the season healthy and Callahan calling the plays, look for the Cowboys to have one of the most improved running attacks in 2013.

Dallas’ offensive line played alright last season, and four of the five starters from last year’s line are returning in 2013. Rookie center Travis Frederick is slated to get the start in Week 1. With a year of playing together under their belt, this unit should be pretty good in 2013.


The Cowboys defense wasn’t great last year, finishing the season ranked 19th in the league against the pass and 22nd against the run.

Dallas played a 3-4 defense in 2012, but will play a 4-3 defense in 2012 with Monte Kiffin calling the shots. A lot of Dallas’ players on are more suited for the 4-3 scheme than they were for the 3-4 scheme, so this may end up being a great move.

In the new 4-3 defense, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer will make the transition from "stand-u, pass-rushing outside linebackers" to "hand-in-the-ground defensive ends”. While both Ware and Spencer a bit small for 4-3 ends, they are both extremely talented and shouldn’t have an issue making the transition.

One reason the 3-4 defense never really worked in Dallas was that the Cowboys never had a space eating nose tackle. Jay Ratliff is a Pro Bowl-quality defensive tackle, but he isn’t the prototypical, linemen-eating nose tackle. In the new 4-3, Ratliff and Jason Hatcher will get the two starting DT spots, and that duo up front has a ton of potential to excel. Look for Ratliff to have a huge season.

Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Justin Durant make up the Cowboys linebacking corps, and have all been productive throughout their careers. Lee is one of the best young middle linebackers in the game, and had 58 tackles through six games last year before getting hurt. Carter only played in 11 games last year, but was still the Cowboys third leading tackler, and Durant had more than 100 tackles last season in Detroit.

The Cowboys secondary has potential, but hasn’t been very productive the last few years. Morris Claiborne was a top 10 pick in the 2012 draft, but often looked lost in coverage last season. Brandon Carr led the team with three interceptions last year, but also got burned on quite a few occasions.

Dallas’ safeties played terribly last year, so the team brought in Will Allen and promoted Barry Church to the starting safety spots. Allen has been around the league for a while and isn’t great, but is an upgrade over what the Cowboys had last season. Along with that, Church is still a very unproven commodity (three games played, six tackles in 2012).

2013 Prediction: 9-7

The Cowboys should have one of the NFL’s best offenses in 2013 with Tony Romo at the helm distributing the ball to all of his weapons. Dez Bryant should put up monster numbers in 2013, and DeMarco Murray should have a nice season with Callahan calling the offensive plays.

The defense is what is going to make or break this team. Switching to a 4-3 is a good move for the team, but it won’t turn this defense from an average unit into one of the league’s best. Dallas still has a lot of work to do on that side of the ball, especially in the secondary.

Wins: St. Louis, @San Diego, Washington, @Detroit, Minnesota, @New York (Giants), Oakland, @Chicago, Philadelphia

Losses: New York (Giants), @Kansas City, Denver, @Philadelphia, @New Orleans,  Green Bay, @Washington


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