Posted: 1:00 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2, 2013
By Dave Halprin
SBN: Who is the easiest player on the roster to root for?
Joey Ickes: Sean Lee. Since Sean Lee has been a Dallas Cowboy, he has been, as Jason Garrett has said, "Everything that is good about football." He goes all out all the time, whether it's in the weight room, on the practice field or in front of 80,000 people at AT&T; Stadium. He also happens to be arguably the Cowboys best defensive player when he's healthy. But that's the problem, he hasn't been. He missed 10 games in 2012, 1 in 2011 and 2 in 2010. When he signed his new 6 yr, $42 Million, contract he gave the Cowboys a break on guaranteed money, and even agreed to a significant amount of playing time incentives to be included in the deal. One of his first statements following the contract revolved around knowing that he needed to find a way to stay on the field to help the team win. He is everything you want a Dallas Cowboy to be, and for me, the easiest Dallas Cowboy to root for.
SBN: If you could buy a ticket to just one game this year...
Rabblerousr: If I could buy a ticket to just one game this year, it would be the mid-December clash between the Cowboys and the Packers. If the Cowboys end up fulfilling my expectations for them (11-5 season, division title), this contest could well prove to be that most desirable of games: the late-season contest between division leaders. In 2007, you may recall, Green Bay visited Texas Stadium on the Thursday night after Thanksgiving, with NFC supremacy on the line. That game, a 37-27 Cowboys victory, lived up to its hype; on December 15, we could see a game with similar stakes, and thrills.
SBN: Which veterans were notable cuts for the 53-man roster?
Dave Halprin: Dallas didn't cut any big name veterans. WR Anthony Armstrong and T Demetress Bell were the only guys cut who had actually started for another team for at least a year or made a significant contribution to another team. They did move G Nate Livings to IR. Otherwise the cuts were pretty much guys who were expected to be cut or were on the bubble.
SBN: Which second year player is going to make the biggest leap?
KD Drummond: Ron Leary. Leary is the next in line for great UDFA pickups by the Cowboys. The team rated him as a 3rd-rounder in 2012, but a degenerative condition in his knee scared everybody off. When he arrived to the team he was overwhelmed by pro competition after leaving University of Memphis. This year though, he's much improved and has won the team's starting left guard position. Sandwiched between first-round picks Tyron Smith (2011) and Travis Frederick (2013), he'll have the best chance to succeed in Bill Callahan's ZBS. Leary earned the job before the Cowboys had to place Nate Livings on IR due to his knee condition. I think it's safe to say that going from the practice squad to starter in one year is a successful leap.
SBN: What are the odds of your head coach getting fired?
Dave Halprin: Who knows? The odds depend on how well or poorly the season goes. I'm an optimist, so I expect a good season meaning Jason Garrett won't get fired.
SBN: What franchise or NFL records could be broken this season?
Joey Ickes: Anything with the word receiving or reception in it. Dez Bryant emerged in the second half of the 2012 season as the beast at WR the Cowboys thought and hoped he could become when they picked him in the first round in the 2010 draft. Bryant has followed up his 92 catch, 1,382 yard 12 TD campaign, with the best off-season of his career. There has been no off the field drama with his mother, interaction with mall security, or law suits from jewelers, it has been all football all the time for Dez. He credits Tony Romo, and new WR coach Derek Dooley for increasing his understanding of the offense and has had a masterful pre-season, amassing 13 catches, on 14 targets for 183 yards and a TD, in about the number of snaps he would normally play in a single regular season game. There will be some Cowboys team receiving records that fall in 2013.
SBN: Which rookies will see regular playing time this year?
Tom Ryle: C Travis Frederick will hopefully take every snap a center, so he is easy. CB B.W. Webb may get time in the secondary as the fourth corner. LB DeVonte Holloman is competing for playing time at the Sam linebacker, he should get some plays in pass defense because he just has a knack for the ball. TE Gavin Escobar will be used in certain red zone plays. WR Terrance Williams is either third or fourth on the depth chart, so he is almost certainly going to get some chances in three and four WR sets.
SBN: Predict the order of finish in your division.
CotySaxmen: Cowboys - Redskins - Eagles - Giants. I believe that the Redskins, as well as the other read-option reliant teams, will struggle to replicate the success they enjoyed in 2012. This, coupled with improvement on the part of the Cowboys, gives Washington the second-place finish in the East. As for the Eagles and Giants, they seem fairly similar to me, although for completely different reasons. The Giants weren't very good last year, and it seems that they've only gotten worse over the course of the offseason. I don't think that the Eagles will improve much under Chip Kelly, but they'll be just good enough to challenge the Giants for third place.
SBN: What do you expect your season-end record will be?
Dave Halprin: 10-6. Dallas had one very big issue coming into the offseason, the offensive line. They made a few personnel changes along the line, so far that unit looks improved. On defense, the change to a 4-3 Tampa 2 is also working well, the Cowboys produced turnovers in the preseason, something Dallas' defense was very poor at last year. The Cowboys offense has an array of weapons at the skill positions, with Dez Bryant ready for a huge year. If the offensive line produces and the team can stay away from crippling injuries that doomed their defense last year, Dallas should have a good year.