The idea of addition by subtraction (meaning, Dallas has gotten better by parting ways with some divisive forces in the locker room) seems to be prevalent around here lately. I thought it was worth some evaluation.
It’s true that we’ve seen some examples of this lately, most notably with the Giants. After losing in the first round of the playoffs the previous two years, the 2007 Giants won the Super Bowl after losing two of their premier offensive weapons – Tiki Barber to retirement and Jeremy Shockey to injury. Barber wasn’t the negative influence some perceive Owens and Shockey to be, but the notion that the team improved in the wake of a significant loss of talent is the same.
Call it “making the team more Romo-friendly” if you prefer, but someone will have to fill the momentous void in talent left by Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, and to a lesser extent, Tank Johnson.
Terry (he didn’t play like a “Tank” last season) Johnson seemed like a nice back-up option for Jay Ratliff the last year and a half. He had a few moments where he looked good, but most of the time he was a non-factor getting eaten up by 300 lb. Centers and Guards. Now, we have a huge hole at NT. Ok, maybe the problem there isn’t losing Johnson as much as it is finding an adequate back-up. He wasn’t the answer and the question of who takes that spot is still looming.
Pacman didn’t live up to expectations either. He was average at best as a cornerback, and looked more like Mrs. Pacman on punt returns as he typically moved more backwards and side to side than he did up the field. A year of rust surely contributed to his lack of production. Review his 2006 season with Tennessee and you will see he was truly special. He has all the talent in the world to play CB in the NFL and play it at a top 5 level at his position. The issue with him is not talent, but desire … and an obvious lack of intelligence. Like him or not, it's a significant loss of talent in the Dallas secondary.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at TO Eldorado Owens. During his 13 year NFL career he’s been asked to leave (or something similar) an organization on three different occasions. It was the 49ers after the 2003 season, Philly in the middle of the 2005 campaign, and just recently Dallas released him. How did these teams fare with TO and then right after his departure? Maybe we can determine some conclusions regarding what the Cowboys can expect.
I’ve taken the team’s record in TO’s last two seasons with the team, and the same team’s record the following two seasons. Let’s see what we find:
San Francisco 2002 – 2003 with TO: 17 – 15 - Winning Pctg: .531
San Francisco 2003 – 2004 w/o TO: 6 - 26 - Winning Pctg: .188
Philadelphia 2004 – 2005* with TO: 17 – 6 - Winning Pctg: .739
Philadelphia 2005 – 2007* w/o TO: 20 – 21 - Winning Pctg: .488
(*Owens played the first 7 games of the 2005 season before he was suspended and subsequently deactivated by the Eagles for voicing his displeasure about his contract and making disparaging remarks about Donavan McNabb and Eagles Management.)
Dallas 2007 – 2008 with TO: 22 – 10 - Winning Pctg: .688
Dallas 2009 – 2010 w/o TO: ???
So, in total, TO’s teams were 34 – 21 with him. A winning pctg of .618.
Immediately following his departure, his teams went 26 – 47. A winning pctg of .356.
On average teams went from 10 – 6 to 6 – 10, or dropped .262 in winning percentage, approximately 4 games per year.
One could use these numbers to hypothesize the Cowboys will drop from an average of an 11-5 season (22 – 10 over the last two years) to two 7 – 9 seasons on average over the next two seasons due to the loss of Terrell Owens.
Locker room and on-field chemistry is something we cannot predict, and I’m not trying to do so in this post. Talent is a little more tangible. I think there is little doubt Dallas has less talent on their roster compared to this time last season. Let’s hope we can do more with less and get the most out the talent that is here.