Improved or Not, Dallas Faces Daunting Task In '09

Let's assume that Jerry is right about everything.

Let's assume that the running game will be the backbone of a devastating offense; that Roy Williams will be an effective number one receiver; that Dallas' defense will be faster; that special teams won't suck as bad as they did a year ago.

Basically, let's assume that Jerry World will raise the level of play across the board in Dallas... or Arlington, as it were. (Thanks, Laura Miller.)

Even in this best case scenario, Wade Phillips' dream, we are looking at a mighty tough season, particularly on the back stretch. What this means, basically, is that Phillips will have to be better than he's ever been--by a lot.

Before the bye week, things look fine, with only two of the five games--New York and Carolina--presenting any real problems for Dallas on paper; but before the bye week, things have always looked fine for the Cowboys.

The grueling task comes after the bye week, in week seven, with the schedule as follows: Vs. Atlanta, vs. Seattle, at Philadelphia, at Green Bay, vs. Washington, vs. Oakland, at New York, vs. San Diego, vs. New Orleans, at Washington, vs. Philly.

That's two should-win games out of eleven, and it might equal Wade's walking papers.

There has been much talk this offseason (as there was last offseason, and the one before that) of Dallas shedding its dubious reputation as a bad late-year team; this could happen, but it will be a monumentally difficult task this year more than ever.

Dallas will start out the month of December in New York, playing a Giants team that is widely favored to take the conference. They will round out the month against a much improved (but admittedly susceptible) Redskins team. In between are two opponents with potentially mind-blowing offenses, in New Orleans and San Diego.

Oh, yeah. And then Dallas will end the year with a game against the Eagles on January 3rd.

It's not impossible, but it certainly seems improbable given Wade's ( and of recent, the team's) past. Dallas will not only have to be better in 2009, they will have to be better against better opposition, and meet Jerry's $1.15 billion expectations.

But no pressure, Wade.

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