When the Dallas Cowboys cratered in 2008, staggering to a 9-7 finish after entering camp as Super Bowl favorites, they faced a stark, grey reality -- they were an old team.
The Cowboys have steadily pared the greybeards from their lineup. Look at the '08 starters who have already left, with their ages this season, and compare them to the ages of their replacements:
|'08 Starter||Projected '10 Starter|
|Roy Williams (SS) 30||Gerald Sensabaugh 27|
|Ken Hamlin (FS) 29||Alan Ball 25|
|Anthony Henry (CB) 32||Mike Jenkins 25|
|Terrell Owens (WR) 37||Miles Austin 25|
|Patrick Crayton (WR) 31||Roy Williams 29; Dez Bryant? 22|
|Greg Ellis (OLB) 35||Anthony Spencer 26|
|Flozell Adams (LT) 32||Doug Free 26|
|Average age: 32.3||Avg. newbie age with Roy -- 26.0; with Dez -- 25.0|
The youth movement could accelerate if the two kid inside linebackers make their moves this summer or early in the season:
Vets on the Fence:
|Keith Brooking (WILB) 35||Jason Williams 24|
|Bradie James (SILB) 29||Sean Lee 24|
|Avg. veteran age: 32.0||avg. newbie age: 24|
Dallas has nine total starters with an average age of 32 who could make way for nine youngsters with an average age just under 25 by season's end. If the kids can play, they won't just raise the Cowboys' window of contention, they'll extend it.
The benefits may go beyond youth and lower salaries. A few weeks ago, I published a quote by Oakland A's GM Billy Beane where he touted youth for its resiliance; he claimed younger players suffer fewer injuries than players over 30. Was that age a factor in the crippling wave of injuries which struck the '08 team? Are the younger NFL teams indeed healthier overall?
I've put our resident numbers cruncher OneCoolCustomer on the case. He tells me he'll have his findings ready sometime late this week. Stay tuned for his followup. Who knows, shaking up your lineup could actually make it far less shaky.