Q: We are always among the most penalized teams in the league. When does this change?
Karen Hurl, York, Pennsylvania
I would love to say next season, but the Cowboys were again one of the most penalized teams in the league in 2009, despite placing emphasis on decreasing penalties this past offseason. They committed the fourth-most penalties at 6.9 per game. There is a ton of evidence that both turnovers and defensive penalties are correlated directly to team wins, so Dallas has really had to outplay teams to win in recent years.
Romo did an excellent job of decreasing his interceptions this season, and this, more than anything, was the reason they won the division. The number one priority for this team next season should be to continue to protect the ball, limit the penalties, yet still maintain their aggressiveness.
Q: What do you think Kevin Ogletree’s role will be next season, and how has Manuel Johnson progressed?
Kevin Ogletree really showed signs of greatness this season. He ran excellent routes and showed an above-average ability to gain yards after the catch. The Cowboys really utilized this ability on smoke screens against Philadelphia to neutralize their blitz.
Some writers even think Ogletree is ready to challenge Roy Williams for the starting job. That seems to be a bit of a stretch, mainly because it will be hard for the Cowboys to bench a $45 million player. Still, if Roy Williams doesn’t find some sort of connection with Romo, something will have to be done.
Manuel Johnson is going to have a tough time cracking the Cowboys’ 53-man roster. He was on the practice squad last year, and he would have to overtake either Ogletree or Hurd to make the team, assuming the Cowboys only keep five wide receivers.
Further, if the team chooses to draft a return man who happens to play wide receiver (such as Texas’ WR Jordan Shipley, as we have been advocating), then Manuel’s chances of making the team disappear completely.
Q: Do you think the Cowboys could get Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant? They need a wide receiver.
Daniel, El Paso, Texas
The chances of getting Dez Bryant are just about zero. As we explained earlier, the ‘Boys would have to part with their first and second-round selections just to get up to around pick #16. There is little chance that Bryant drops passed Miami at #12, and for Dallas to move there, they would have to give up their first through fifth-round picks, as per the NFL Draft Value Chart.
Secondly, we are not sure they need a wide receiver. We actually see the position as somewhat of a strength with the emergence of Austin. If the team drafts a return man who happens to be a receiver, that is another story, but giving up nearly your entire draft for a guy you will have to pay millions of dollars is not an option (especially when you have two WR’s who will be making nearly $100 million once Austin signs an extension).