It Starts This Week

This time of year always reminds me of the summer of 1999. That year, I distinctly remember reading a preseason publication that ranked the every team in the NFC.

Not to my surprise, the St. Louis Rams came in dead last in the conference. In fact, the woeful Rams were predicted to be one of the worst teams in the league that year.

This particular preseason publication even went as far to suggest that the Rams may find it difficult to win even one game.

The St. Louis Rams 0-16? Even before their high-flying offense under Dick Vermeil took the league by storm, to suggest the Rams would have problems winning a single game was borderline preposterous.

Of course, the Rams would go on to win the World Championship that season when they defeated the Tennessee Titans in one of most exciting Super Bowls in recent memory.

However, clearly, a preseason prediction so insanely off only reinforces the fact that any team in the National Football League has a chance to at least make the playoffs, if not challenge for the Super Bowl, in any given year.

Fast forward to 2005.

The Dallas Cowboys, predicted by many pundits to be "in the middle of the pack," enter the start of training camp with high, but cautious expectations.

By no stretch of the imagination would anyone suggest the Cowboys could go winless in 2005. On the flipside, no one in their right mind would also suggest the Cowboys are legitimate Super Bowl favorites at this point in time.

And perhaps that is what is so great about training camp and the preseason.

Anything is possible. Anything can happen. And when it comes to a team like the Cowboys, a team that could realistically finish anywhere from 6-10 to 11-5, preseason predictions can be eerily similar to playing a game of Russian Roulette.

You just don't know. Anything can happen between now and February.

But to put things in a more detailed perspective, the Dallas Cowboys finally begin their hopeful run back to the playoffs this week in Oxnard, Calif.

As soon as Tuesday, many of the assistant coaches will be making their way west in preparation for the official start of camp Saturday morning.

By the end of next weekend, pre-training camp questions will begin to be answered at the conclusion of the very first practice. What will the Cowboys do at right tackle? Is Keith Davis an answer at free safety? Will the team rally around veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe and will he be more productive than Vinny Testaverde was last year?

Simply put, if the Cowboys are going to make a run at the playoffs and improve on last year's disastrous 6-10 record, it starts this week.

Proving the preseason prognosticators wrong starts this week. Proving the offseason acquisitions Drew Bledsoe, Jason Ferguson, Marco Rivera, Anthony Henry, Aaron Glenn and Anthony Thomas will make a difference for this team, starts this week.

Proving the switch to the 3-4 defense will be the generating force behind forcing more turnovers, getting more pressure on the quarterback, and most importantly, generating more wins, starts this week.

It's a great time of year. The Cowboys have no losses and hope springs eternal.

Just make sure you don't believe everything you read. There's an entire season of football to be played, and anything can and usually does, happen.

And it all starts, officially, this week.

CowboysHQ Top Stories