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Old 01-14-2013   #39
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Default Re: Well, that's a wrap. 2012 season final thoughts

I've seen lots of times that it's better to wait some time and let the emotions settle down before doing a real analysis. But that said, here are some of my thoughts:

0) We really did do well this year. Regardless of play at the end, it was nice to have such a good season, overall. I also think it is healthy that we all see this now as a disappointement, rather than something to be satisfied with. As someone who was a longtime Cowboys fan, this is one big difference I've seen in the fanbases: Cowboys fans expect to win, and are basically never satisfied unless it's a Superbowl. While that can obviously get frustrating, I think that attitude is needed for long-term success, and I think I'm seeing it develop here.

1) Special teams was a disaster. We were consistently having worse field position than the other team through our poor punting/kickoff play. This should be obvious to everyone, and there's no excuse not to fire the ST coach.
1a) At the same time, I will say that Graham did better than I expected at the end of the year. I was all set to go to Bullock next year, but now I'm having second thoughts.

2) I think we are seeing the effect of the lack of emphasis on the offense. Look at the past 3-4 drafts---very defense-heavy (though we did a bit more on offense this past year, it was for positions like OL that take time to develop, and our top pick was still on D). Look at free agents: we have brought in people like Joseph, Manning, and Smith on D. On O? Basically nothing. The point is, regardless of how good our O is supposed to be, when you consistently neglect bringing in talent through FA and the draft over several years, it's not surprising to see it suffer. It's surprising to me that it's doing as well as it is.

3) I also think we are seeing the result of losing much of our 2006 draft class in the offseason: Williams, Ryans, and Winston. Each of those is a reasonable decision to let go, but in every case it's not as though we really upgraded with the replacement.

4) I am frustrated that I don't even know what we really have any more. The regression of Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin makes me wonder what if anything we have there. The right side of the OL is totally uncertain. I have no idea who we really have for receivers (I've not been a fan of Kevin Walter for a long time). Our depth at RB seems OK, but I doubt it lasts into next year. Do we have any corners after Joseph and KJ? What about our TEs (the level of play there seemed to drop off this year)? Normally, I can at least take comfort after a season that I see some progress and the building blocks for the future, but this time I feel we have more uncertainty and questions.

5) I did see some good points. JJ Watt was incredible. AJ showed me he still has it and I feel good about him next year, even as our #1. I think Kareem Jackson showed he can play the position we drafted him for. Some other players that I was actually worried about continuing to perform (Joseph, Foster) showed me they were OK.

6) I wondered how I should take the two OT wins: as signs of trouble, or demonstrations of perseverernce. I think the answer is clear now, which is kind of depressing. I think the NE games showed us where we really stand, overall, and our 12-4 record probably should have been closer to the 10-6 it would have been if we'd lost those OT games.

7) A couple of things I disagree with others on:
7a) First, I don't think losing Cushing was the death knell of our defense (though it certainly hurt). I think a bigger factor was the poor play by the other LBs. Plus, based on Cushing's history so far, I think we are destined for disappointment if we tie our success to Cushing - he seems to have been missing more than he's played.
7b) Second, I don't actually put as much blame here on Schaub as most people do. I'm not saying he's an elite QB, and I'm not excusing the poor plays that were his fault today and in other games, but I think he is plenty good enough to get us to a SB win. I'm totally fine with him going into the next few years. I do think that there is a mental aspect to his game that is now off, though, but it hasn't always been that way, and I don't think it's necessarily going to be there long-term. I think the people calling for Schaub replacement are underestimating the difficulty of getting an improvement (especially with our draft position). I'd put Schaub in the top third of QBs in the league, meaning at least half the teams are having difficulty making improvements at that position.

8) Finally, along the lines of point 4, I don't know what to think about Kubiak. I feel that I've seen steady progress by the team as a whole under Kubiak, and I won't deny feeling for 2/3 of this year that he could lead us to a SB. But, I also found myself questioning his playcalling (runs up the middle today?!?!), and I think the uncertainty I mention in point 4 is directly Kubiak's fault - we should know better what we have (maybe he does, and it's just less apparent to me).
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