2010 Dallas Cowboys Season Preview

How things can change in a year, just look at the 2010 Dallas Cowboys Team Preview.

Exactly 12 months ago, the Dallas Cowboys seemed to be the biggest wild card in the NFC East, floundering with a head coach on the hot seat and a quarterback who couldn't win when it mattered. But after a run to the second round of the playoffs, winning four of their last five games, the Cowboys appear to be the solid favorites to repeat as division king in 2010.

While the Eagles and Redskins shuffle their rosters, and the New York Giants addressing their defense, Dallas has only bolstered it's already impressive depth chart with rookie wideout Dez Bryant. He will join a receiving corps that caught 26 touchdowns in '09 and made it a whole lot easier for Tony Romo to reach the Pro Bowl yet again. Bryant had the talent to be a top-10 pick in the draft, but fell after missing the last half of the '09 season due to eligibility concerns.

Without him, Romo finished third in the NFL with 4,483 yards and led an offense that ended up just 0.6 yards short of 400 per game.

Bryant figures to make an impact right away with defenders targeting breakout star Miles Austin, who blossomed into a true no. 1 wideout with 1,320 yards and 11 scores.

Dallas had a top-10 offense and defense in '09, and won three big games against New Orleans, Philadelphia and Washington in December to put it in the postseason. The Cowboys scored 22.6 points per game, and allowed the second-fewest points in the league (15.6). They still have the terrific problem of splitting time between Felix Jones and Marion Barber, and appear to have the most depth of any team in the division heading into the 2010 NFL Season.2010 Dallas Cowboys Coaching Staff & ChangesNo more debate. Wade Phillips is the man in charge after finally breaking through and delivering Dallas it's first playoff win since 1996. On the hot seat for most of the '09 season, Phillips was finally given a total vote of confidence by owner Jerry Jones, and handed a three-year extension to his deal. Everything about the 2010 Dallas Cowboys reads stability now with every main piece returning.

And it all starts with Phillips. The defensive guru has turned linebacker DeMarcus Ware into a super star, and held opponents to the second-lowest average point total.

The Cowboys have won 10 games in two of Phillips' three seasons, and finally got a playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild card playoff round. He has a career record of 81-54 (.597), although just a 1-5 record in the playoffs. 2010 Dallas Cowboys Key Free Agency Acquisitions & LossesAcquistions
OT - Alex Barron Traded From St. Louis Rams

FS - Ken Hamlin to Baltimore Ravens
OT - Flozell Adams to Free Agency
LB - Bobby Carpenter Traded to St. Louis Rams2010 Dallas Cowboys NFL DraftRound 1: Pick 27 - WR, Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State)
Round 2: Pick 55 - LB, Sean Lee (Penn State)
Round 4: Pick 119 - FS, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (Indiana)
Round 6: Pick 179 - OT, Sam Young (Notre Dame)
Round 6: Pick 196 - CB, Jamar Wall (Texas Tech)
Round 7: Pick 234 - NT, Sean Lissimore (William & Mary)
2010 Dallas Cowboys QuarterbacksAlthough the Cowboys fell in the second round of the playoffs, the 2009 season came as a huge relief to Tony Romo. Previously known as a quarterback who couldn't win when it mattered, Romo played his best football in December and cruised to back-to-back wins over the rival Philadelphia Eagles. The second win gave Dallas it's first playoff win since 1996. He threw for a career-high 4,483 yards and seems poised to climb even higher with the addition of Dez Bryant.

Still only midway through his career, Romo is as safe as they come in the NFL, keeping his interceptions to an all-time low (9) in 2009. He has more options than anyone in the division with a Pro Bowl tight end in Jason Witten and running backs Felix Jones and Marion Barber as plus pass catching options.

Jon Kitna remains as Romo's understudy, serving as one of the more reliable back-ups in the division. Kitna is a solid veteran with Pro Bowl credentials, who has thrown for over 4,000 yards twice with the Detroit Lions.

2010 Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Depth Chart
QB - Tony Romo
QB - John Kitna2010 Dallas Cowboys Running BacksMarion Barber will never be confused as the most dependable back in the NFC due to an array of injuries, but he continues to be a punishing ball carrier who gained 932 yards despite missing parts of the schedule. And unlike most teams, Dallas won't be crippled if he's absent a few snaps in 2010. The 2010 Dallas Cowboys have the deepest proven backfield in the division this season after finishing last year seventh in rushing.

Felix Jones tied Jamaal Charles for the NFL lead with 5.9 yards per carry a year ago, and is a soft lock to have 15 touches per game. The only issue is he suffers the same injury history as Barber, missing 13 games over the last two seasons. As long as one of the two are in the lineup, the Cowboys should be able to move fluidly. Losing both of them appears to be the only contingency on winning the division for the second-straight year, but back as a third option is Tashard Choice, who has historically filled in nicely. In five starts, he's run for 800 over the last two years. Still, if you're looking for a concern, it's the health of this group. How far Dallas goes may depend on the health of this group.

Projected 2010 Dallas Cowboys Running Back Depth Chart
RB - Marion Barber
RB - Felix Jones
RB - Tashard Choice 2010 Dallas Cowboys Wide ReceiversWhen looking at the receivers on the 2010 Dallas Cowboys Season Preview, it all starts with Miles Austin.

That might have sounded peculiar a year ago, but in 2010, Austin comes in as the established go-to guy with Pro Bowl talent. With Roy Williams bumbling, Austin finally took the reigns of the receiving corps in Week Five, when his 250-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Kansas City Chiefs made him an overnight star. From there, Austin went on to total 1,320 yards (3rd in the NFL) and 11 scores (4th) to earn his first Pro Bowl bid.

Williams is still a question mark, but is still a terrific third option with the addition of Dez Bryant via draft. The rookie out of Oklahoma State was a difficult match in college with his 6'2" frame and athleticism. He could have been the first wideout taken, but fell to Dallas after missing all of the back half of his junior year. Owner Jerry Jones said he missed out in 1998 by not selecting Randy Moss. This time around, he wasn't going to pass. Bryant could be that good.

And if the receivers aren't an option, Romo can certainly dump it down to Jason Witten, a perennial Pro Bowler who finished third among tight ends with 1,030 yards. Witten caught five passes or more in 13 games in '09, and is a favorite target in Dallas' offense.

Projected 2010 Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Depth Chart
WR - Miles Austin
WR - Roy Williams
- Sam Hurd
WR - Dez Bryant

Projected 2010 Dallas Cowboys Tight End Depth Chart
TE - Jason Witten
TE - Martellus Bennet2010 Dallas Cowboys Offensive LineIn a move to add strength to the line, Dallas traded Bobby Carpenter to the St. Louis Rams to bring in six-year veteran Alex Barron, a former first rounder who is still seen as a bit of a project. Barron has been the most penalized player in the entire NFL since 2005, but still has a lot of upside. He has started in 58 games over his first five seasons. Marc Columbo and Doug Free seem to be positioned as the starting tackles, but the addition of Barron will make it easier to address injuries after Free was left as the team's last tackle at the end of the year.

Leonard Davis is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, named to the team in each of the last three years, and will start at left guard.

Projected 2010 Dallas Cowboys Starting Offensive Line
LT - Doug Free
LG - Kyle Kosier
C - Andre Gurode
RG - Leonard Davis
RT - Marc Colombo2010 Dallas Cowboys Defensive LineIgor Olshansky turned out to be a nice addition to the front line with 40 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in his first season with the Cowboys. A free agent acquisition from San Diego, his 40 tackles were the second-most of his career, as was his 29 solo wrap-ups. The Ukrainian is back to lead a line with nose tackle Jay Ratliff and Marcus Spears.

Dallas had the seventh-best rush defense, and it all started up front, allowing fewer than 132 yards per game.

The Cowboys front also forced six fumbles.

Projected 2010 Dallas Cowboys Starting Defensive Line
DE - Marcus Spears
NT - Jay Ratliff
DE - Igor Olshansky2010 Dallas Cowboys LinebackersOut is Bobby Carpenter in the deal to acquire Alex Barron, but the Cowboys still have one of the best outside linebackers in all of football in DeMarcus Ware. The Pro Bowler had 12 sacks in '09, and three more in the playoffs. Ware had 57 tackles and five forced fumbles to go along with the sacks, and should have no problem matching those numbers with Wade Phillips back on the sidelines.

To compensate for the loss of Carpenter, Dallas tagged Sean Lee, a rookie out of Penn State, in the second round of April's Draft.

Lee should have the opportunity to make an immediate impact after his new team ranked 20th against the pass.

Anthony Spencer finally broke out in '09 with 67 tackles (almost half of his four-year total) and six sacks, and intercepted a pass. He may not be the feature player in the second level, but will be enough of a supplement to make up for any of Ware's off-nights.

Projected 2010 Dallas Cowboys Starting Linebackers
OLB - Anthony Spencer
ILB - Bradie James
ILB - Keith Brooking
OLB - DeMarcus Ware2010 Dallas Cowboys SecondaryAs noted above, stopping the pass was an issue for Dallas last year despite holding teams to only 15.6 points per game. The secondary only intercepted 11 passes, tied for 26th-best in the league, and had trouble breaking up the big play.

The front office declined re-signing safety Ken Hamlin, but returning is Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins, who combined for eight of the team's 11 picks. Together, the 2010 Dallas Cowboys secondary should be a fairly solid unit.

Projected 2010 Dallas Cowboys Starting Seconday
CB - Mike Jenkins
CB - Terence New Man
SS - Gerald Sensabaugh
FS - Alan Ball

2010 Dallas Cowboys Preview