Running the Numbers: Why Dallas Will Be Improved In 2012
I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Cowboys improved in the offseason. They signed who I think was the top free agent cornerback in the NFL (I was actually making a plea for the team to sign Carr back in February). They grabbed the top defensive player in the draft. Carr and Morris Claiborne alone will upgrade the Dallas defense in a big way, combining to form what could be one of the NFL’s better cornerback duos.
Moving Tyron Smith to left tackle and Doug Free back to the right side should help the Cowboys’ pass protection efforts. Miles Austin is healthy. Dez Bryant, despite still needing to mature in a big way, looks primed for a breakout year. Bruce Carter and Dan Connor will be huge upgrades over Bradie James and Keith Brooking. The only major question mark is the interior line, but it shouldn’t be exceedingly difficult for Nate Livings and either Mackenzy Bernadeau or Ronald Leary to play up to the level of Kyle Kosier and Montrae Holland.
Yup, there’s a lot of reason for optimism in Big D. Just posted at DallasCowboys.com, check out my top five reasons the Cowboys will improve in 2012.
3. The pass rush will improve.
A couple of months ago, I projected team sacks using a combination of pressures and sack rate. Even if nothing at all changes in Dallas, the defense is in line for more sacks. If the ’Boys pressure the quarterback just as much as they did in 2011, they should record right around 50 sacks this season – eight more than last year.
Ware is going to get his sacks, but the Cowboys are likely to see more sacks from the defensive line andAnthony Spencer. I’ve even gone on record as saying I think Spencer, who pressures the quarterback at a rate right in line with the league’s top-10 outside linebackers, will post at least eight sacks in 2012.
Now throw in another year in Rob Ryan’s scheme, and you have the recipe for a whole lot of headaches for opposing quarterbacks.
2. Tyron Smith will thrive on the left side.
Smith was sensational in his rookie season. I tracked the Cowboys as rushing for 5.43 yards-per-carry behind the youngster, compared to only 3.26 when running behind Doug Free. Smith also allowed only six sacks and an overall pressure rate of just 2.5 percent, ranking him as the third-best pass-protecting right tackle in the NFL.
As a lean, athletic offensive tackle, Smith should prosper on the left side of the line. Plus, the Cowboys can move Free back to his more natural right tackle position where he can face inferior pass rushers and potentially get more help from Jason Witten.
Check out the other reasons at the team site.