Dallas has a huge game this week against Pittsburgh. These players/coaches have the most to prove, and many of them have thier jobs and reputations on the line. I'll start with the coaches.
1) Wade Phillips, head coach. It's pretty easy to sum up these last 4 games for Phillips; playoffs or bust. If Phillips want any chance to keep his job, he needs the team to play well and get out of this december funk which has seemd to haunt the Cowboys recently.
2) Bruce Read, special teams coach. At times this year, the Cowboys special teams have been simply awful. And at this point in time, I think Bruce Read will be fired. So if Bruce wants any shot at keeping his job, the special teams need to have a solid last 4 games.
3) Brian Stewart, Defensive Coordinator. The defense has been up and down this year, and have been playing well as late. But of course, they started playing better after Phillips started calling the defense again. Like Read, I see Stewart gone at the end of the year reguardless who is coach. So if he wants any chance at keeping his job, his secondary needs to play well these last 4 games.
4) Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator. Unlike the other three, Garrett's job is not on the line. However, his reputation is. Although playing better now, the Dallas offense has not been great as last year and as a result Garrett's reputation around the league has diminished. If he wants to regain his reputation as a very good OC and prove to Jerry Jones that he is ready to be the next head coach, Garrett needs to guide the offense to a very good last 4 games.
Now on to the players who have to most to prove.
1) Tony Romo, QB. Romo has been on the cusp of the MVP talk the last couple weeks, and if he wants to keep that going and raise to to a higher level, he needs a very good last 4 games. This will be no easy task, especially with an unhealthy Marion Barber. But if Romo plays like he has the last couple weeks, he most likely will take home the MVP. Not that it will be that easy though, as Romo faces some very tough defenses.
Romo also has his reputation on the line. He is very close to being elite, but if he wants to take that step he needs to prove that he can be a good QB down the stretch and win some games in the postseason. If he can do that, he can very easily slide into the 3rd best QB in the NFL slot.
2) Terrel Owens, WR. TO has insisted that he is still an elite WR, and has proved that he still can be against poor defenses. These next 4 weeks are time for Owens to prove he can still an elite WR. This is also a time for Owens to improve his reputation as well. If he can have good games without have an insane amount of passes thrown his way, it will go along way to change his reputation as a selfish me-me-me type of player.
3) DeMarcus Ware, OLB. Ware is on this list for a completely different reason than Owens. These next 4 games, next week especially, are games where Ware can prove he is the best passs rusher in the entire NFL, and that he deserves the DPOY over James Harrison, who is the favorite at this point in time. If D-Ware can outshine Harrison this week, he could become the favorite for the award.
4) Anthony Henry, CB. Henry has been under fire of late, and his declining speed is being exposed. henry needs to have a solid last 4 games to prove to the Cowboys that he still has what it takes to be a good player in this league, and that he has enough left to move to safety next year.
As of right now, I have to agree with Emmitt Smith, and say that the Cowboys are mediocre at this point. But if Dallas can play well these last 4 games, they can finally shake off the pesky label.