2003: Improvement is Certain

There is a method to the madness of head coach Bill Parcells. Tough coach, that provides a disciplined style of generalship, something rarely viewed in Dallas under the ownership of one Jerry Jones. To this point, the improbable tag-team effort of these two strong-willed personalities is working.

It must be noted that Parcells has been tremendous in turning around floundering franchises, so the picture of the often loose-lipped Jones biting his tongue may continue into the foreseeable future.

The one question that will continue to be asked as the Cowboys head into training camp is why Parcells hasn't brought in a veteran signal-caller as a fallback if Chad Hutchinson or Quincy Carter does not pan out. Early indications are that Hutchinson is the guy the organization likes, as does Parcells, but the word coming out of the Dallas organization is that Parcells of late has taken a liking to the athletic ability that Carter provides, especially behind a questionable offensive line and the lack of an established running game.

Right now the quarterback derby is too close to call, but based on Parcells history, the pure quarterback Hutchinson should have a leg up in the open competition.

Establishing a rushing attack will fall onto the shoulders of Troy Hambrick. Outspoken about his role in the 2002 season, Hambrick has the opportunity to grab the running back spot that had been manned by the NFL's All-Time leading rusher Emmitt Smith. Note that Hambrick has already felt the initial wrath of Parcells by showing up to mini-camp overweight.

Not all is at it seems for a team coming off a 5-11 season. There is hope in Dallas, especially with Parcells calling the shots and he has some talent to work with. The Cowboys were 18th in defense last season, ranking 15th against the run and 19th in passing. Offensively, the team was 30th overall, ranking dead last in the passing game.

Much is riding on the youth of the Cowboys offensive roster, from the quarterback situation to the questions at running back. Finishing last season ranked 31st in passing, Parcells is counting on trusted friend Maurice Carthon as the offensive coordinator and Sean Payton as the quarterbacks coach. Hoping to provide the offense with a veteran, legitimate weapon, the Cowboys added wide receiver Terry Glenn to the stable of wide outs that feature Joey Galloway and 2002 draftee Antonio Bryant.

With the improved threat on the flank of the offensive, the Dallas quarterbacks will have the weapons to throw the ball to.

Defensively, the Cowboys are a sound unit overall, but the defensive line is being looked upon as an area that needs to improve. According to those within the Dallas organization, the coaching staff is not satisfied with the lack of consistent pressure on the quarterback, and a slight drop in aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage overall. The defensive secondary is an improving until, with two first-round picks from the past two drafts (Roy Williams in 2002 and Terrence Newman in 2003) lining up in the defensive backfield, the Cowboys have a solid base of athleticism and playmakers.

Overall it is had to fathom that a Bill Parcells coached team will not be competitive, much less a contender. Look for the Cowboys to be competitive and improve as the 2003 season progresses.

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