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32 in 32: Jason Garrett down to last life with Cowboys

"NFL Total Access" has launched its "32 in 32" series, breaking down the biggest subplots of every NFL team as the 2013 season approaches. Around The League will follow along and offer our own take. Up first: The Dallas Cowboys.

2012 record: 8-8, third place NFC East

Notable additions: SS Will Allen, OLB Justin Durant, DE Anthony Hargrove

Notable departures: OLB Victor Butler, ILB Dan Connor, CB Mike Jenkins, RB Felix Jones, DE Marcus Spears, WR Kevin Ogletree, S Gerald Sensabaugh

Draft class: C Travis Frederick, TE Gavin Escobar, WR Terrance Williams, FS J.J. Wilcox, CB B.W. Webb, RB Joseph Randle, OLB DeVonte Holloman

Three subplots

All that Romo talk

Jerry Jones says Tony Romo is taking on a Roger Staubach-like role in building the offense. Others aren't as convinced. Whatever Romo's role is behind the scenes, there's no denying that the Cowboys have gone all-in with arguably the most polarizing player in their history. At 33, Romo should have some prime years left. Will his best ever be good enough to get the Cowboys over the hump?

A new look on defense

Rob Ryan's long hair and eternal bluster are gone from the Dallas sideline. Enter Monte Kiffin, who shifts the Cowboys to a 4-3 scheme. The Cowboys weren't great on this side of the ball last year (14th overall, 355.1 ypg), but we understand why Ryan was surprised he got sacked. Let's not forget how beat up Dallas was in key spots. A scheme change is great, but having healthy versions of DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee and Barry Church can make the biggest difference.

Jason Garrett's uncertain future

This is it for Garrett. Jerry Jones groomed him for years, hoping he could be a long-term solution in the big chair. Garrett has rewarded that faith with a 21-19 record and zero playoff appearances in two tries. At 70, Jones isn't getting younger. His patience in Boy Wonder runs out if Big D suffers through another dark January.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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