Competing for the Playoffs

Go ahead and admit it, you think the Cowboys are going to make a playoff run next season don't you? Let me be the first to say, the NFC East can be overtaken in 2002, and it might as well be the Cowboys that step up to the plate.

Of course, its way to early to start examining the X's and O's, but if you know anything about football, you know that the Cowboys have positioned themselves to be as improved as any team in the league in 2002.

Jerry Jones has added some much needed firepower on defense with free agent acquistions of DT La'Roi Glover, CB Bryant Westbrook, LB Kevin Hardy and the drafting of FS Roy Williams. Add those four players to a team that finished in top 5 in the NFL defensively a year ago- and you have yourself a strong foundation for success.

The Cowboys' schedule is also a favorable one, especially considering the opening game of the season is against the expansion Houston Texans.

Following tough road games against Philadelphia and St. Louis, Dallas will have 5 very winnable games right in a row, and that stretch run will like determine if a playoff run is fact or fiction.

"I'm not saying we're going to be a playoff team, but it's only logical that we'll be a better team on offense, on defense, on special teams. I also don't want to say we're an 8-8 team," Head Coach Dave Campo said last week. "But we're a work in progress. I think we're an improved football club. How much improved, we'll have to find out."

One thing is for sure, don't count on Jerry Jones to make any predictions after last year's "10-6" disaster. Jerry should be keeping his mouth shut this time around after last year's embarrassing comments.

And he'll likely be keeping quiet for good reason. To put it simply, not too many people know what to expect of an improving team that might have jumped the gun on rebuilding. After all, weren't the Cowboys supposed to be bad for another year or two?

That certainly is a controversial topic around these parts, but if you want to talk about pure improvement next season what does that translate into?

Two more wins? Three more wins?

Think about it for a second, will any of you Cowboy fans out there be satisfied with a 7-9 record next year?

Probably not.

Only two more wins than last year's 5-11 debacle (not to mention the year before) with all that new talent on both sides of the ball?

I'll be the first to tell you that is almost absurd.

It seems likely, if not probable that the Cowboys could pick up three extra games this year and finish, at worse, with an 8-8 record.

And you can attribute that mediocrity to a new offense, and a young quarterback.

8-8 is my worse case scenario mind you. Certainly, adding a proven offensive coordinator, a few playmakers on defense, and a top-notch wide receiver should pay some more serious dividends next season.

You have to believe that if the Cowboys are able to eek out wins over Tennessee or San Francisco, then we could be looking at a playoff birth on the line during the last three games of the season.

Furthermore, a 9-7 record would likely be a Wildcard, and a 10-6 effort would almost certainly gaurantee the Cowboys a playoff birth- something that has been seen around The Ranch in quite some time.

Again, it's a little early to start making predictions, especially since we've only seen one mini-camp, but it sure is exciting to have some positive feelings surrounding this football team again.

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