ESPN.com's Jeffri Chadiha released his list of the top ten players in the NFL who have the most to prove in 2009, "a handful of stars who need to rebound from harsh 2008 seasons."
This sounds like a list that might be dominated by the Cowboys thoroughly, kind of like the 2007 NFC Pro Bowl roster. It would be fitting enough, as Dallas is arguably, probably in fact, the team with the most to prove in 2009; they certainly fall under the category of "need to rebound from a harsh 2008 season."
Yet only one Dallas Cowboy found himself on the top ten, and it's a fairly surprising pick; namely, it's not Roy Williams.
The only Cowboy on the list, which would by powers of deduction be the Cowboy with the most to prove, is running back Marion Barber. "Last fall," Chadiha says, "Barber seemed more like an overhyped, inconsistent runner who was way out of his comfort zone as a starter."
The center of the Dallas Cowboys universe.
"The most important thing the Cowboys can do is return Barber to the role of being the second-half finisher for their offense," Chadiha continues. "That's how Barber made his name in the first place, and that's how he'll rebound from an underwhelming 2008 campaign."
Granted, I understand the pick, insofar as the above stated criteria is concerned; it's true that Barber had an underwhelming 2008. But let's not forget that (a) Barber was actually injured for most of the season, despite only missing one game, (b) that his increased load was increased even more in the middle of the season between Felix Jones' injury and the emergence of Tashard Choice and (c) that he will return in 2009 to the role in which he excelled in 2006 and 2007.
But "overhyped" "inconsistent," and "way out of his comfort zone" is a perfectly apt description of Williams, at least the Wiliams Dallas has seen thus far.
Barber has established himself in Dallas, at least enough to get the benefit of the doubt, with respect to one season, in the minds of fans; Williams has not earned such leeway.
Since coming over from Detroit, Williams has caught 19 passes and 1 touchdown. You probably already knew that. Because these numbers have been waved around Dallas in arguments over the former-Longhorn's worth all offseason, and basically since Williams arrived last October.
For sure, Barber has to bounce back from a sub-par 2008, albeit understandably sub-par, given the injuries. So does Roy Williams, of course. But that is an unremarkable sentiment for this Cowboys team, on which everyone is in line for some degree of a bounce back year.
Okay, maybe not DeMarcus Ware. He was really good.