Prior to this season right through the first month or so I made several statements that had me labeled as an unreasonable, crazy homer by several members of this site including but not limited to Moondizzle, Porkins, Ram, Oso, and RStowe. So I figured now that the regular season is over, it was a good time to revisit some of what I said and what actually transpired.
The biggest accusations of homerism from the naysayers revolved around my predictions for Tony Romo this year. All the talk about Terrell Owens leaving being detrimental to Romo, and how Tony hadn't done anything without TO etc. I was told Owens departure would mean more double teams for Witten, that nobody would be able to stretch the field, that Romo would make more mistakes as a result...
I made a couple of predictions that were laughed at by almost everyone, including some Cowboys fans. I said Romo would be BETTER without TO, and his interceptions would decrease dramatically. I even explained why...Owens for all his talent, is a horrible route runner and far too often gives up on a play. That combined with TO constantly putting pressure on Romo to get him the ball is what led to Romo's INT problems. When laughingly asked who he was going to throw the ball to I explained that Dallas had a plethora of young receivers nobody had heard of but soon would. Miles Austin, anyone? Now, I won't claim to have predicted Austin specifically to have the kind of coming out party he did, rather I pointed to numerous weapons that were underutilized when T.O. was around including Austin, Sam Hurd, and Isiah Stanback (who was released and signed by the Patriots) as being more than capable of picking up the slack without the headaches associated with Owens. Today's season finale is a perfect example with seven different players catching passes and none of them named Roy Williams. Romo was free to find his best options this year instead of looking for T.O. first and foremost.
So how did it work out? Romo set a new team record with 4,483 passing yards, good for 3rd in the NFL behind only Peyton Manning who threw 21 more passes for 17 more yards than Tony, and Matt Shaub who was forced to throw until his arm fell off in Houston.
What about those INT's? How about 9 in 16 games. Down from 14 in 13 games a year ago and 19 in 16 games the year prior. His fumbles also dropped from 13 last year to just 6 this year. It wasn't all Owens, Tony made a deliberate concious effort to protect the ball better this year, but the absense of T.O. made this Tony Romo's offense and he responded as well as anyone could have hoped.
And nobody even noticed. This was easily the quietest season for Romo as far as the national media goes. Hell, he didn't even make the Pro Bowl which is absurd.
Next, I also said Dallas had the most talent in the division. I didn't think it was all that controversial of a claim, seemed pretty self evident to me. Wow...I was completely blasted for that one. Everything was thrown at me to the point you'd have thought I made the claim about the Redskins. It should have come as no surprise a team that had 12 pro bowlers just two years ago had a tremendous amount of talent on both sides of the ball. Since then they added incredible talents in Felix Jones, Anthony Spencer and Martellus Bennett. I kept hearing about the Eagles blasting them out of the playoff picture in week 17 a year ago as evidence they weren't the most talented team. Obviously my observations about what happened last year were accurate and not repeated this year.
Admittedly, the Giants had the Cowboys number, being the only team on the schedule to score 30 points against them and doing it twice. That aside, the Giants were simply not a very good football team and by the end of the season the division on that team should surely doom Coughlin. I'd imagine there is some second guessing going on concerning the ridiculous contract extension given to Eli prior to the season. I still think the Giants brass was drunk and thought they were getting the other Manning when they did that deal. That team either has too many leaders or it has none, but Manning should be the guy and clearly isn't.
Washington? Well, they're just a bad team period. Though Dallas made them look even worse, holding them to 7 total points in the two games.
Philly was supposedly hot as fire after running off 6 straight wins against mediocre competition, they also set a team record for points scored in a season. Lucky for them they did it in week 16 because they didn't add to it at all in Dallas in week 17. Philly lost the two games to Dallas by a combined 44-16, having two of their three lowest scoring games of the season against the Cowboys.
The Eagles and Redskins weren't the only teams that had trouble scoring on Dallas. This defense I was told wouldn't be able to stop anybody because of a 'horrible secondary' Held the highest scoring team in the NFL, the Saints and the second highest scoring team in the NFL, the Chargers to their lowest point totals of the season as well (final week when resting starters not withstanding).
In fact, that 'horrible secondary' was pretty spectacular for much of the season as was the entire defense, which finished ranked 9th in the NFL (highest NFC East team ranking) in yards and 2nd in points allowed. This while playing 7 games against teams ranked in the top 8 in scoring. Aside from the two fiasco's against the Giants, no other team scored more than 21 points in a game against Dallas all year. Finishing the season with the first back to back shutouts in team history put a pretty big exclamation mark on this unit.
Then there was all the talk about how Dallas "can't win in December". I repeatedly explained the Cowboys late season woes the last couple of years in great detail but of course the explanation went ignored. It's too easy to just say "Romo chokes in big games". This year, without the issues that caused the problems the last couple of years, Romo and the Cowboys finished with a flourish, first beating the seemingly unbeatable Saints on their home turf while limiting them to just 17 points followed by the aforementioned back to back shutouts over division foes. Regular season games don't get much bigger than these last three. Romo and the defense proved all of the critics wrong emphatically. This is a team on a mission, tired of hearing about how they are soft September stars who wilt in December.
The second season is about to begin and there isn't a team in the playoffs who would relish playing these Cowboys right now. Anything can happen on any given Sunday, but one thing is certain...this team proved they are undoubtedly the best, most talented team in the NFC East.
And to those who called me a crazy, unreasonable, homer...I told ya so.