Dallas Cowboys season preview: Romo not enough

Around The NFL's season preview goes to the NFC East. Our podcast NFC preview is right here.

Change we can believe in

The Cowboys used their first-round pick on versatile offensive lineman Zach Martin, adding another high pedigree piece to an excellent offensive line. The defense is a massive worry in Dallas, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the offense. Tony Romo has recovered well from back surgery and looked healthy in his preseason appearances. Tyron Smith is a true franchise left tackle, worthy of the big investment Dallas made in him. Dez Bryant can make a strong argument that he's the second-best receiver in football, and we like tight end Gavin Escobar's chances of making a big impact.

Ultimately, there wasn't enough positive change in Dallas this offseason. Monte Kiffin is no longer the defensive coordinator, which has to be a good thing. But coach Jason Garrett and new defensive boss Rod Marinelli haven't inspired much confidence that they can exceed Dallas' annual date with 8-8.

Biggest concern

The Cowboys' defense could go from worst to collegiate. Cap mismanagement forced them to releaseDeMarcus Ware and lose Jason Hatcherin free agency. Linebacker Sean Lee, easily their best defensive player, is out for the season with a torn ACL. The No. 34 overall pick in the draft, Demarcus Lawrence, broke his foot and is expected to miss the first three to six games of the season. Their best cornerback of late, Orlando Scandrick, was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Notable Madden ratings

  1. Dez Bryant - 94
    1. Tony Romo - 91
    2. Demarco Murray - 89
    3. Jason Witten - 93

The Cowboys are bad and unlucky. Even the players that appear talented like cornerbacks like Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr were picked to fit a system that is long gone. This is an organization that has consistently lacked a cohesive vision.

Training camp surprise

Rolando McClain isn't just going to make the Cowboys -- he was in the mix to start until recently. The former Oakland Raider was "retired" last season and reportedly looked embarrassing during a workout with the Baltimore Ravens earlier this year. His ability to stick on the Cowboys roster probably says more about the Cowboys than it does about McClain.

What we'll be saying in February

We'll be talking about how Tony Romo played like an MVP candidate just to scrape out six wins with this roster.

Around The NFL's predicted finish: Fourth place in NFC East, 27th in Around The NFL's Power Index.

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