Owner Jerry Jones and coach Wade Phillips aren't satisfied with the Cowboys. They might have ended an embarrassing streak of 12 consecutive seasons without a playoff win last season. But they want a Super Bowl.
The Cowboys hold themselves to a high standard, with five Super Bowl titles and eight appearances.
Jones and Phillips are pleased with a 2009 NFC East title and the postseason win over Philadelphia that followed, but both are struggling to get over the 34-3 spanking Minnesota gave the team in the playoffs.
"We're not the least bit satisfied with anything we've done," Jones said. "We were healthier than we'd ever been in 21 years, but we just didn't finish it. We have to work hard to avoid the disappointment we had in Minnesota.
"It should be a reminder to us that we have no room to feel good about ourselves. There may be some projections of where we can go this year coming from outside of our building, but we can't rest on anything."
Offense: The Cowboys are putting a lot of faith in Doug Free after cutting left tackle Flozell Adams, a 12-year veteran. The thought is that it's time to infuse some youth in a line that was inconsistent much of the '09 season, despite the Cowboys finishing ninth in the NFL in total offense. The Cowboys scored one touchdown or less in three games, struggled on short-yardage runs down the stretch and allowed 34 sacks last year.
Defense: OLB Anthony Spencer struggled the first month last season but improved by the season's end, finishing with 67 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. At the end of last year, Spencer was making nearly as many plays as DeMarcus Ware, the All-Pro linebacker who finished with 11 sacks.
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Gerald Sensabaugh will be fine at free safety because he excels in coverage, but the Cowboys' biggest question will be at strong safety after they released Ken Hamlin, who had only one interception and four pass deflections the past two seasons. The Cowboys are looking for a playmaker on a unit that generated just 21 turnovers, 10 fumbles and 11 interceptions in '09. Third-year man Alan Ball, a converted cornerback, will get the first shot.
Felix Jones, RB. In his first two seasons, Jones only had 146 carries but averaged 6.5 yards per carry with six touchdowns. If he starts and stays healthy, Jones should become the Cowboys' first 1,200-yard rusher in a decade.
"There's great competition between us. We make each other better by going out there and competing during practice, during this offseason, a lot of competition as far as running and lifting and everything like that. ... We're a team, and that's how we play. If I don't get as many touches as I think I should have and we win the game, that's how it's supposed to be."
— Felix Jones on himself, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice
"What's not to like about the Cowboys? But they've got a small window to win. You don't get to hang around as a contender indefinitely, because if the Cowboys don't win it all or get to the NFC championship game there are going to be changes. Maybe it'll be the coach. Maybe people will start looking at Romo. He was great last year, and he should be the same this year with another year of experience in the league. And who knows? But change occurs if you're good and don't win it. ...
"They have a great offense, but there have to be some questions about the left tackle (Free). They like him, but they need some depth just in case he can't get the job done. They need a free safety on defense and another cornerback in case of injury and because so many teams are using four-receiver sets."
The Cowboys should be one of the NFC's best teams and contend for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Dallas has a versatile offense and a strong defense that pressures the quarterback and stops the run.
QB: Tony Romo, Jon Kitna
FB: Deon Anderson
RB: Felix Jones, Marion Barber
WR: Miles Austin, Kevin Ogletree
WR: Roy Williams, Dez Bryant
TE: Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett
LT: Doug Free, Alex Barron
LG: Kyle Kosier, Montrae Holland
C: Andre Gurode, Kyle Kosier
RG: Leonard Davis, Pat McQuistan
RT: Marc Colombo, Alex Barron
LE: Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher
NT: Jay Ratliff, Junior Siavii
RE: Igor Olshanski, Stephen Bowen
OLB: DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Williams
ILB: Bradie James, Sean Lee
ILB: Keith Brooking, Jason Williams
OLB: Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler
CB: Terence Newman, Orlando Scandrick
CB: Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick
SS: Alan Ball, Mike Hamlin
FS: Gerald Sensabaugh, Mike Hamlin
K: David Buehler
P: Mat McBriar
KR: Dez Bryant
PR: Dez Bryant
LS: L.P. Ladouceur
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