Fantasy Impact: Dallas Cowboys
New Head Coach: Wade Phillips (SD
DC: 2004-2006; ATL DC: 2002-2003; BUF HC: 1998-2000; BUF DC: 1995-1997;
DEN HC: 1993-1994; DEN DC: 1989-1992; PHI DC: 1986-1988; NO DC:
1981-1985; HOU DL Coach: 1976-1980)
Previous Head Coach: Bill Parcells
New Offensive Coordinator: Jason Garrett
(MIA QBs Coach: 2005-2006)
Assistant Head Coach: Tony Sparano
(DAL OL Coach/Rushing Co: 2005-2006; DAL TEs Coach: 2003-2004)
Bill Parcells' retirement following four disappointing seasons
with the Cowboys placed the franchise on the hunt for a new head
coach this off-season. Owner Jerry Jones had interest in more
than a few candidates, in the end deciding on recent San Diego
Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips has more
than thirty years NFL experience, including four prior stints
as a head coach. From 1998-2000 he was with the Bills working
as Marv Levy's replacement. He took on the task of replacing another
legendary coach (Dan Reeves) when he ran the Denver Broncos from
1993-1994. This year he attempts to do what Bill Parcells couldn't
accomplish with the Cowboys. Phillips also had brief coaching
tenures on an interim basis with the New Orleans Saints (1985)
and Atlanta Falcons (2003).
Once hired, Phillips made two key maneuvers with his coaching
staff. Jason Garrett, who spent the previous two seasons as the
Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach, was hired as offensive coordinator.
He also promoted Tony Sparano to the position of assistant head
coach. Sparano has been in the NFL for eight seasons, having spent
his last four with the Dallas Cowboys. As a member of Bill Parcells'
staff Sparano's duties included working with tight ends, the offensive
line, and coordinating the team’s running game. He'll continue
to work in those areas while Garrett plays a larger role in orchestrating
the team’s passing attack.
Given Phillips' defensive background, expect the Cowboys offensive
game plan to revolve around a strong rushing attack. With Sparano
kept as part of the staff there is reason to expect similarities
between what the Cowboys did last year and what they will do this
season running the football. With Garrett's short amount of experience
in the NFL, along with never having seen him coordinate an offense
before, it's difficult to forecast what one should expect from
him. If Romo builds off the success he had last season however,
the Cowboys passing game will be an effective one. The strength
of the defense may be what ultimately dictates the balance we'll
see from the Dallas offense in 2007.
Phillip's Impact On The Offense:
Romo started 10 games for Dallas in 2006, finishing the season
with 2903 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. He also completed an
impressive 65.3% of his passes after replacing an ineffective
Drew Bledsoe mid-season and leading the Cowboys to the playoffs.
Garrett's two years as the quarterbacks coach in Miami were spent
tutoring questionable talent at the position. He worked with Gus
Frerotte in 2005 under offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Frerotte
provided mediocre production for the season before following Linehan
to St. Louis in 2006 and signing as Marc Bulger's back-up.
With Linehan taking the head coaching position with the Rams,
Miami hired former Pittsburgh Steelers coordinator Mike Mularkey
to run their offense in 2006. Daunte Culpepper was acquired during
the off-season with expectations he would provide Miami much needed
stability at the QB position. After a few early starts, it became
apparent Culpepper wasn't fully recovered from the knee injury
that cost him much of the 2005 campaign. With the one time Viking
sidelined, Garrett was left to work with Joey Harrington as his
starter and got mixed results. The former first round pick had
some solid outings, but his overall performance left much to be
Expect Romo to have a solid season as a starter in fantasy leagues,
though it may not be wise to base his projections on last yearís
performance alone. In 2006 he averaged 264.1 passing yards per
start. If he duplicated that feat over a full 16 games he'd finish
with more than 4000 yards. With the coaching change that has taken
place in Dallas, expect Romo to finish this season with 3600-3800
passing yards and 20-24 touchdowns.
Running Backs: Julius Jones;
Marion Barber; Tyson Thompson
Given the fact Tony Sparano was kept as part of the Dallas coaching
staff, there's good reason to believe Julius Jones and Marion
Barber will be used in much the same fashion they were in 2006.
Sparano first worked with Dallas as their tight ends coach, but
has taken on the responsibility of working with the offensive
line, as well as coordinating the teamís rushing attack
during the last two years. Barber may have the opportunity over
the course of the pre-season to take on a larger role than he
had in 2006, but expect Julius Jones to continue seeing his fair
share of carries throughout the year.
The main development that takes place in the Dallas backfield
will revolve around which RB is viewed as the primary ball carrier.
At the moment, Jones appears to have the edge, so expect another
900-1000 yards rushing from him while Barber continues stealing
touches at the goal line. Barber should also see enough carries
during the course of the year to reach 650-750 rushing yards.
He'll surpass 1000 if assumes the starting role early in the year.
Should that happen, Jones production would likely drop to no more
than 750 yards rushing and a few touchdowns.
Wide Receivers: Terrell Owens;
Terry Glenn; Patrick Crayton; Sam Hurd; Skyler Green
With the same cast of receivers returning, there is good reason
to expect similar production at the position for Dallas this year.
Owens played with an injured finger in 2006, which led to more
than a few drops and lost touchdown opportunities. Despite the
miscues, he still led the team with 85 receptions and 1180 receiving
yards. His 13 touchdowns were second on the team, ranking slightly
behind Marion Barber's 16 overall scores. With his finger healed,
Owens is a safe bet to match the statistics he posted last season.
If Dallas is behind in games more often than expected, Owens is
a reliable threat to record 1200-1300 yards. He'll also finish
with another 10-15 touchdowns.
Terry Glenn has posted back-to-back thousand-yard seasons in
his last two years with the Cowboys. While the mark is one he
could reach for a third consecutive year, don't go into the season
expecting it from him. Bank on the 12-year vet posting 800-950
receiving yards and reaching the end zone 5-7 times. Crayton may
prove useful during bye weeks, but only warrants serious consideration
if Owens or Glenn is lost to injury.
Tight Ends: Jason
As with the running backs, Sparano has also played a role working
with the tight end position since joining the Cowboys in 2003.
Witten entered the NFL as a rookie that season and finished with
35 receptions for 347 yards. In the three seasons since then he
has averaged 72 receptions, 830 yards, and 4 touchdowns. After
a slow start in 2006, Witten became much more involved in the
offense once Romo was starting. He finished the year with 64 receptions,
754 yards and 1 touchdown. With Romo expected to start all 16
games this season, Witten should at least match his totals of
a year ago.