The Cowboys begin their offseason with another 8-8 campaign in the rear-view mirror. The Cowboys will most-certainly be looking to the Draft for answers to their never-ending conundrum of mediocrity. With that said there were a few surprises this season that nobody saw coming. Whether good or bad, these Cowboys always put out an entertaining bunch to watch on Sundays. Here are just a few things that stood out in 2013.
5. The disappearing act of former Cowboys stalemates- This year was an odd year in terms of certain Cowboys that you were used to seeing every Sunday not showing up to participate. Though injuries could answer a lot of those questions, you still had guys not making their presence known when needed most. For instance, with the emergence of Dez Bryant, you would think that Miles Austin could have beat a one-on-one every now and then, yet the majority of the time Austin saw the field he was watching someone intercept his catchable ball. Austin finished the year with only 24 receptions, 244 yards and no touchdowns. All but reassuring his departure from the Cowboys, Austin now enters the final year of his contract. The same could be said for DeMarcus Ware, who had career lows in every category leading to questions about his future as well.
4. The sudden dominance of Jason Hatcher– Hatcher began his 2013 asking for a trade or release, Hatcher wasn’t sure he would fit the Cowboys’ new 4-3 under Monte Kiffin. Boy was he wrong, Hatcher dominated the position of defensive tackle yet never received the Pro Bowl nod that he deserved. Hatch has always played with a chip on his shoulder but he may now get a payday entering free agency this offseason. Hatcher finished with 11 sacks in a stellar year for the 32 year-old tackle.
3. Tyron Smith shut-down ability– If you wanted to sack Tony Romo, you had better luck on the right side because Smith wasn’t letting you through on the left. Tyron Smith took perennial pass rushers and made them non-existent throughout 2013. Smith only gave up 1.5 sacks but made minced meat of guys like JPP and others.
2. Cowboys defense worse in 2013 than 2012- After the departure of Rob Ryan, fans rejoiced expecting different results only to be watching as man corners were forced to play zone and pass rush was non-existent. The Cowboys ended up footing the worst statistical defense in their history, and the worst defense in the NFL in 2013. Questions now remain on how the Cowboys can rebound with too many injuries and positions undecided.
1. Cowboys Draft class soars to top- It seems only months ago when the Cowboys traded away from Kenny Vaccaro and picked up Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams for their efforts. That deemed a genius move as the Cowboys Draft is smelling like roses now. In his rookie season, Frederick was graded out as one the best centers in the league. Escobar and Randle both scored touchdowns with limited opportunities and Williams broke through to kick Miles Austin out of the 2nd receiver spot. All is looking good for their continuing improvement in 2014.