Work in Sports
Longtime assistant Campo takes unsteady reins
The Dallas Cowboys opened their training camp at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, on July 17. Here are a few questions from Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z, followed by CNNSI.com's perspective on some of the issues facing the Cowboys this season. SI's season preview will post Aug. 23.
Dr. Z wants to know:
1.) New wideout Joey Galloway can fly. Rocket Ismail can fly. Where's the possession receiver? (Jay Novacek has been retired for three years.)
2.) Emmitt Smith is 31, but last year he led the NFC in rushing attempts for the fifth time in his career. Will he, someday, just collapse in a heap, or like Dorian Gray, does he have a picture hidden away somewhere that shows all his age?
3.) Nothing against Dave Campo, who was a fine defensive coordinator, but he's Jerry Jones' third consecutive low-paid, unproven head coach. Are we sure Jerry has his priorities straight?
4.) Jones never has paid big $$$ to linebackers, but shouldn't he have made an exception in the case of Randall Godfrey, who was being touted as a budding superstar at this time last year and left this offseason for Tennessee?
5.) The Cowboys were so impressed with their new imported CB Ryan McNeil that they devoted three spots out of their meager five-player draft to his position. What does this tell you?
The Cowboys can make the playoffs if ... Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Joey Galloway play a 16-game schedule. If Aikman is sidelined, the Cowboys still have Randall Cunningham, but there will be no replacing Smith or Galloway.
Pivotal games: Dallas opens the season against NFC East division foes Philadelphia, Arizona and archrival Washington. However, another key stretch comes the final six weeks of the season: at (improved) Baltimore, Minnesota, at Tampa Bay, Washington, New York Giants and at Tennessee. If the Cowboys expect to be in the playoffs, four wins down the stretch are a must.
On the hot seat: Jerry Jones. While the Cowboys have run roughshod through the division in recent years, Washington owner Dan Snyder has thrown down the gauntlet. The Redskins added big-name free agents -- future salary-cap implications be damned -- and are primed at a push toward Tampa. Certainly the 'Skins have taken some of the air out of Jones' mammoth sails.
Up-and-comers: Ebenezer Ekuban. A rookie in 1999, Ekuban played in just 10 games and had a measly 19 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks. He has the physical tools (6-foot-4, 265 pounds) to be a dominant defensive end -- something he'll have to be in order to take pressure off the Cowboys' secondary, which doesn't have the mystique it once did (read: Deion Sanders).