After four weeks of play two things stand out as obvious... Our safeties are pretty bad AND our inside linebackers don't make plays in coverage or against the run. Now these are two things we should have known immediately on cut-down day (to the final 53). But like most of us I was caught up in the Alan Ball hype. Ball, a seventh round pick who paid his dues on the bench and ST for four years made an interesting offseason story and I wanted to believe that this would have a happy ending. It didn't seem like a stretch to project that Ball would turn out like the other late round picks and undrafted free agents where we somehow turned up a gem (e.g. Jay Ratliff, Miles Austin, Tony Romo) or at least a productive player (e.g. Stephen Bowen, Chris Gronkowski, John Phillips, Kevin Ogletree).
I was also fooled by the resurgence of Keith Brooking as an effective blitzer and playmaker last year. I thought he still had it... Again, we should have known when Jerry traded up in the 2nd round from Sean Lee (ILB, Penn State) that the GM knew there would be problems at the position this year. Watching Keith Brooking get stoned by Clinton Portis on every blitz was a real eye opener!
Bill Parcells used to say that if you have a rotation of two (or more) quarterbacks you really don't have any. Specifically, if no one stands out enough to end the rotation and take over the starting job you have quantity, not quality. In that case you don't really have even one worthy starter. We should have applied this sound reasoning to our D on cut-down day...
Thus the premise: "We should have known..." When the General Manager of the Dallas Cowboys kept !SIX! safeties (yup, count-em: Gerald Sensabaugh, Alan Ball, Mike Hamlin, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Barry Church, Danny McRay) that meant that the starters (Gerald Sensabaugh, Alan Ball) didn't stand out of the pack. When you have six safeties there is really no safety... Jerry knew he had a problem at the position and was hoping against hope that they could develop some young talent to take over next year.
At ILB the story is similar. Jerry traded up for Sean Lee and kept Leon Williams... When you have five ILB's playing on game day you don't have two good enough to stand out and take a starting position!
Would anyone like to commit the unpardonable heresy of applying such simple logic to our "legendary" (in our minds) stable of running backs.
How about the O-line where Jerry kept five offensive tackles (Brewster, Sam Young, Marc Columbo, Doug Free, and A**x B****n). Granted Columbo was hurt and Free was unproven - but it seems clear that Jerry was anticipating trouble at this position and he was right (see the Redskins game).
Maybe one more loss and we'll start to see the young guys (Felix Jones, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Jason Williams) get some playing time. RIght now coach Phillips keeps them on such a short leash that any mistake results in the old vet getting all the playing time. The Cowboys can't develop any young talent that way... That IS a head coaching problem.