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2014 49ers' Opponents Review and Preview: Dallas Cowboys

We take a look at the Dallas Cowboys in anticipation of the upcoming season.

Tom Pennington

There is a huge part of me that wishes I were alive during the ‘80s so that I could have watched Joe Montana blossom as a player rather than watch as many games as I can, having already been told that he is the greatest QB to play the game.

There is a smaller part of me that wishes I could dislike the Cowboys even more than I do now, having seen them as hated rivals in the ‘80s. That would make their current, laughable state even more satisfying.

Yes, the Cowboys stumbled into mediocrity yet again last season, achieving a delightfully mundane record of 8-8. While most of the "America's Team" rhetoric has died down and our older rivalry with the Cowboys has been replaced with newer ones (have you guys heard of this new team called the Seattle Seahawks), I still feel the lingering effects of the rivalry today.

Part of their problem is that they don't have a proper GM. Jerry Jones continues to run the team's football operations, occasionally with disastrous consequences. This chaotic approach seemed to trickle down into a convoluted coaching staff last year with the result that a teams with some offensive firepower seems to be stymied on occasion by a convoluted play-calling system. I defer here to Emmitt Smith, quoted by the Dallas Morning News:

Me personally, I think there's too many cooks in the kitchen. You got an offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett, you got Linehan and you also have Bill Callahan. You have three guys that have been head coaches in some cases and offensive coordinators in a lot of different places. The question for me is how is all that going to jell together? Who is going to trump who? I just think it creates problems. There's no clear direction there.

Free Agents:

Brandon Carter, G; Jon Kitna, QB; George Winn, RB; Brian Waters, OL; Ryan Cook, OL; Anthony Spencer, DE/LB; Jarius Wynn, DE; Jason Hatcher, DT; Edgar Jones, LB; Ernie Sims, LB; Danny McCray, S

As I mentioned above, a lot of the Cowboys' problems stem from Mr. Jones' decisions. All offseason they have been consistently over the cap by a huge degree. Today, in fact, Tony Romo, and a couple of other players, restructured their contracts in order to help alleviate cap pressure. But, even after these moves, the Cowboys are still about $1 million over the cap. See here for more details.

Obviously, this creates problems for signing free agents, especially considering the fact that the Cowboys probably want to bring a few of their own players back. DT Jason Hatcher had a great season, accumulating 11.0 sacks. This type of disruptive play is going to be necessary if the Cowboys want to finally break into the playoffs in a division that boasts an offensively explosive Philadelphia Eagles team. But, where will the money come from? I imagine Hatcher's play will price the Cowboys out, forcing them to rely on the draft as a way to replace Hatcher (and a couple of other key free agents).

Draft Picks:

First round: own - 16th
Second round: own - 15th (47th overall)
Third round: own - 14th (78th overall)
Fourth round: own - 19th (115th overall)
Fifth round: own - 18th (146th overall)
Seventh round: Bears (in trade for Dante Rosario) - 14th (206th overall)
Seventh round: own - 16th (208th overall)
Seventh round: Chiefs (packaged with Edgar Jones for Cowboys' sixth round pick) - 23rd (215th overall)

Jerry Jones seems to be more capable at selecting players in the draft than he is at extending them to frugal, or even just prudent, extensions. That said, we have all seen previous Cowboy draft picks and laughed. This draft, if Jones wants his team to overcome their recent "oh, so close!" style of play, he is going to have to fill some needs through the draft. Not only does he need the replace Hatcher, but the Cowboys might need a second DT as well. Moreover, DeMarcus Ware could use a better partner at the other DE spot.