Enemy Intel: Cowboys

Enemy Intel: Cowboys
June 27, 2013, 10:30 am
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Should the Redskins carry more than 2 QBs?

Over the past four months, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the teams who appear on the Redskins’ 2013 schedule.

We’ve tracked their free agent signings. We’ve examined their drafts. Now, in our final edition of Enemy Intel, we’re taking a look at three storylines that will dominate each team’s preseason.

Up today …

Opponent/Week: Cowboys/6 and 17

2012 record: 8-8, 3-3 NFC East

Key acquisitions: LB Justin Durant, S Will Allen

Top draft picks: C Travis Frederick, TE Gavin Escobar, WR Terrance Williams, S J.J. Wilcox, CB B.W. Webb, RB Joseph Randle, OLB DeVonte Holloman

Storyline No. 1: Tony Romo got paid like an elite quarterback when he signed a six-year, $108 million contract extension in March. But will he deliver the goods?

The 33-year-old three-time Pro Bowler insists that he doesn't feel any additional pressure.

“Pressure and fear are all just in your own brain,” he said earlier this month, per ESPN Dallas. “To me, it's nothing more than you going out and your competing you're butt off every day and trying to win everyday. So I don't allow what outside influences affect my psyche or what my mental makeup is.” 

His detractors, though, suggest otherwise. Romo has only one playoff victory since become a starter in 2006. He’s 55-38 in the regular season but is 13-17 in December, including a 28-18 loss in a winners-takes-all game at FedEx Field last season. Romo was intercepted three times in that game.

If the Cowboys don’t improve upon their .500 record in 2013, you can bet Romo, his performances in the clutch and his contract, which includes $55 million in guarantees, will remain a topic of discussion around the NFL.

Storyline No. 2: Under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys are transitioning to a 4-3 scheme. And because of that, questions abound. 

The biggest unknown, perhaps, is how the change will affect pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. The duo combined for for 22.5 sacks last season, but they’re  converting from outside linebackers to defensive ends.

Will Ware and Spencer struggle to adjust? Or will they become a more disruptive force now that they won’t have to drop back into coverage? Considering how important the defensive line is within Kiffin’s scheme, that could hold the key to the entire transition.

Storyline No. 3: Will the running game improve? The Redskins led the league in rushing yards last with 2,709. The Cowboys were 31st with 1,265 – or 1,444 fewer yards than their NFC East rivals.

Dallas wants to run more in 2013 and, if they’re going to find any success on the ground, DeMarco Murray will need to be a force.

It could happen. If he can stay healthy, of course.

Murray led the Cowboys each of the past two seasons (897 yards and 663, respectively). But the 25-year-old has also missed nine games in his career, including six contests last season because of a bruised foot. 

The Cowboys will also need some production from fifth round pick Joseph Randle, who missed the team’s offseason program because of thumb surgery. But more than that, they’ll need Murray to be the man.