Lots of people have been asking about the Cowboys -- specifically, what should be expected of them in 2011. They won just six games last year, were supposed to win more, and everybody wants to know whether we should expect them to just rebound to their 2009 division-winner level or have to work their way back from six-win purgatory.
First of all, depending on how long the lockout lasts, six wins could be enough to win a division in 2011. But nevermind that. My answer to the question has consistently been that I think the Cowboys have the talent to rebound quickly and contend right away. Adam Schefter, in his latest Insider mailbag, agrees. Now, that's an Insider link, so you can only read it if you have Insider access. But Adam's basic point is that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will make a big impact and the roster has enough talent to recover from last year's disappointment.
"If the team can manufacture a running game and improve its offensive line," Adam writes, "the Cowboys have a chance to challenge just about anyone in the NFC."
I agree, and I think they can do both. They addressed the line with their first-round pick of Tyron Smith, and they added to the running game with DeMarco Murray in the third round. The Dallas running game has been at its best when the coaching staff has effectively rotated its deep stable of backs. And as long as they can get off the idea that somebody has to be the "starter" or get the lion's share of carries, Jason Garrett should have enough at the position to enable him to run all kinds of creative sets and make use of all of that talent.
I looked pretty bad last year picking the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl, but I think most people would agree that they should have been better than 6-10. Things change quickly in this league, and I think that -- assuming there is a 2011 season -- a rapid Cowboys renaissance wouldn't be the most surprising turn of events.