The Cowboys had a great rebound season in 2003
earning 10 wins, their first winning season in 4 years. Much of that success was due to Dallas' #1 ranked defense, as its offense was average at best.
Several attempts were made this off-season to upgrade the offensive, including the trade for (WR) Keyshawn Johnson and signing of (RB) Eddie George.
While Keyshawn should be a great improvement over the disappointing Joey Galloway, it is questionable whether Eddie George can improve a running game
that averaged only 3.9 yards per attempt. The Cowboys booted last year's starting running back Troy Hambrick because he managed only 3.5 yards per
carry; however, George managed only 3.3 yards per carry for Tennessee in 2003, so only time will tell if the running attack improves.
Dallas also drafted Notre Dame's Julius Jones as their running back of the future, so if all else fails, Jones could step into the action. Starting
safety Darren Woodson, the last piece remaining from Dallas' Super Bowl glory days, was lost for the first part of the season following surgery on a
herniated disk. Just as the TV series Dallas was actually filmed in Hollywood, it is quite fitting that the Cowboys are put through their training
camp paces in nearby Oxnard, CA. Many in Cowboy nation will tune in during the 2004 season, if only to see where the script goes next.
RB Eddie George ( 6-3 235 ), WR Keyshawn Johnson ( 6-3 215 ), CB Terence Newman ( 5-10 -190 ), DE Marcellus Wiley ( 6-5 282 )
QB Vinny Testaverde, RB Eddie George, WR Keyshawn Johnson ( 6-3 215 ), CB Terence Newman ( 5-10 -190 ), DE Marcellus Wiley
( 6-5 282 )
QB Quincy Carter, RB Troy Hambrick, DE Ebenezer Ekuban, WR Joey Galloway
Despite Quincy Carter's ability to "drive the bus" for Parcells' offense, he still made too many mistakes and didn't use his athletic scrambling
ability enough to put pressure on opposing defenses. The coaching staff love's his work ethics and attitude, but have been stressing to him the
importance of protecting the football. One thing Parcells won't stand for is turnovers, so Carter must improve on his 21 interceptions this season in
order to hold on to his starters job. Testaverde was brought in as an insurance policy and tutor for Carter and Henson, but he will get an opportunity
to earn the starter's job in training camp as well. Chad Hutchinson had a rough season for the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe and appears to be the odd man
out with the addition of Henson. The former Wolverine, who spent the last three years playing 3rd base in the NY Yankees organization, was a standout
in 2000 when he led Michigan to the Rose Bowl. And the coaches are also intrigued by second-year free agent Tony Romo, who is expected see some action
during the pre-season. This all spells bad news for Hutchinson as his days in Dallas seem to be numbered.
Usually 972 yards is enough to keep a running
back around, but not in Dallas as Troy Hambrick and his 3.5 yards per carry were shown the door. In Big D, where the list of former RBs reads like a
hall of fame ballot with names like Smith, Walker, Dorsett and Perkins the shoes are awfully hard to fill. Next in line to try his luck will be the
rookie Julius Jones, who will be feeling considerable pressure to succeed after Dallas passed on Stephen Jackson in the first round to trade down and
select Jones. The Cowboys traded away Joey Galloway during the off-season for Keyshawn Johnson, a long-time Parcells favorite. What Johnson lacks in
speed, he makes up for with intensity and toughness. Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant will vie for the second WR spot, with Glenn as the early favorite
because of his relationship with Parcells and Bryant's inability to control his emotions. Randall Williams is a guy the coaches will really take a
long look at during training camp. At 6'3" 225 Williams is a big man, but he has incredible speed and soft hands and he will push for playing time
this season, especially should Bryant follow up last year's disappointing campaign with a poor training camp. Dallas has one of the better and most
underrated TE corps in the league. Dan Campbell is one of the best blocking TEs in the game today and another great locker room guy as well. He
emerged as one of the true leaders of the team last year. Second-year player Jason Witten turned out to be one of the steals for Dallas in last year's
draft. After a slow start Witten came on strong and finished with 35 catches and a TD. He also showed the coaches his toughness by playing with a
broken jaw for six weeks last year. Jeff Robinson and James Whalen will be fighting for the last TE roster spot along with fifth-round draft choice
Sean Ryan from Boston College.
Though Parcells' year two fortunes have been well-chronicled, the Tuna has not been immune to a bad season on the heels of a successful one. The 1987
Giants went 6-9 after winning the Super Bowl the year before, the '95 Patriots were 6-10 after going to the playoffs in '94, and the head coach's
final Jets team was .500 one season following an AFC Championship appearance. Despite all the high-profile preseason moves, this Cowboys team could
fall into a category with Parcells' other mediocre-or-worse teams. The backfield, offensive line, secondary, and special teams situations are all
shaky, and the division (particularly the Eagles and the Redskins) has gotten better. You should never count Parcells out, as he will get his team to
play hard, but it is doubtful that the team can answer enough of its questions to match last year's 10-win performance. A .500 year seems more like