I would like to start off by saying thanks to all the BTBers holding it down with constant draft updates and ongoing speculation about Cowboy potential draft picks and F/A acquisitions. I have been an avid reader of BTB for some time now. I find it a refreshing respite from that other Cowboys website where occasionally opposite opinions lead to personal attacks. While I cannot say I agree with all, most of the articles I read on here are written by well informed, serious Cowboy fans. I enjoy the articles and I enjoy the debates that follow.
Today, I would like to depart from the normal pre-draft buzz and focus on what plans Jason Garrett may have for overhauling the roster. The transformation of the 2011 Dallas Cowboys. I truly believe we are in the midst of a youth movement that will seriously impact the Dallas Cowboys for years to come. Let's examine.
Let's drift back to 1989. A young Arkansas oil man, in a whirlwind, buys the Dallas Cowboys, fires the only coach the Dallas Cowboys ever had, and hires a young college coach one year removed from a national championship. The confident young coach puts out to pasture some of the older Cowboy faithfuls, trades the best player on the team, and infuses the Cowboys with a slew of draft picks in an effort to get younger and faster. Not only did Jimmy play young players but his coaching staff was littered with young talent as well. We are seeing a similar transition with the 2011 Dallas Cowboys. The average age of our coaches, without specifically knowing, must have dropped at least 10 years. I can see Campo and Houck possibly receiving walking papers as well. The enthusiasm factor from these young bucks has to increase tenfold. I can still see a disheveled Wade, a broken man without any answers, facing the music after every loss, one step closer to his eventual demise. In the future I can see Rob Ryan, fist pumping down the sideline after yet another Cowboy defensive stop. I am a proponent, and history has shown, that this formula could potentially lead to another Cowboy dynasty. Yes, I am the eternal optimist, and I would be remiss to not acknowledge the differences between the 1989 Cowboys and the 2011 Cowboys.
Jason Garrett does not have a national championship ring. Nor did he inherit a rebuilding team. The fact of the matter is that the 2011 Cowboys would have destroyed the 1989 Cowboys. I shudder at the thought of D-Ware laying a pounding on Troy Aikman. Jason has mentioned before that he took a lot from his playing days under Jimmy Johnson and similarly to the 89 team, arguments can be made to get younger or replace due to ineffectiveness, the following positions: 4/5ths of our offensive line, a starting DB, 2 of our inside linebackers, an ineffective Igor, and 2 young safeties that just can't seem to put it together. We are talking about 10 starters. I believe that Jason Garrett along with his new cast of coaches, will usher in wholesale youthful changes without impacting our ability to win. Contrary to that 1989 team, we are not that far off.
Let's talk about the tough calls first. Terence Newman clearly has experienced a drop off in play. It always seems to be at the worst times. The end of the game in New Orleans this year. I remember him locking down Brandon Marshall last year in the Broncos game only to get embarrassed in the 4th quarter on that jump ball down the field. Behind Newman we have Orlando Scandrick and and an unproven Bryan McCann. Scandrick played great at the end of the year and deserves another shot a starting. He graded out as the highest rated cornerback on the team. I do not like him in the slot. He is fast rangy and has good height. Let's match him up outside with bigger receivers. McCann seems perfect for chasing speedy slot receivers and deserves an opportunity as well. Also, I know Ansah is fast and rangy and big. I am not sure why he isn't competing at cornerback. If Newman goes we must address this position in free agency and/or early in the draft. A bit of youthful competition would be well served. In my mind, the term progress stopper could be argued when T New enters the conversation.
I think it would be unrealistic to fix the o-line in one year. Slowly, our o-line has grown older. JJ often has addressed this situation many times in F/A and I would expect him to sign a younger o-line starter this year as well. I can also see us addressing offensive line within the first two rounds, looking for an immediate starter. I think it is not unreasonable for us to expect improvement from the likes of Costa, Young, Parnell, Brewster and Bright. One of these guys could step up. Jason is inherently familiar with all of these guys. There is no doubt that our 2011 offensive line will be younger than our 2010 offensive line. I see at least 2 new starters, with Colombo being replaced and one of the two guards, maybe both.
Safety has been the bane of our existence since Darren Woodson roamed the secondary. Little did we know how spoiled we were. Sensabaugh is probably the best safety we have. He did have several picks. But I think he will be gone because he wants a long term deal with big dollars, I think Jerry has learned his lesson from the Ken Hamlin fiasco and will not pay. Alan Ball, a converted cornerback, struggled mightily and may go back to cornerback. His flexibility probably will earn him an end of the roster spot. Then we have young guns in Owosu, Church, Sendejo and McCray. When discussing F/A additions you would have to weigh paying a veteran safety vs paying Gerald Sensabaugh, a veteran safety himself. This is the one position that I think we may be better served getting a little older although I have no doubt it will be an area of high priority in the draft.
With Brooking getting long in the tooth and Bradie James not getting any younger, Rob might look to get younger here through free agency. He is familiar with the free agent linebackers and is sure to have JG's ear. Sean Lee has shown flashes but his inability to stay healthy is of major concern. He needs to get bigger and stronger. He was injured in college as well. I can see us bringing in two young free agent linebackers and addressing this need later in the draft. Probably not going down but I would love to have Kevin Burnett, our former second round draft pick. He had an excellent year for the Chargers with 6 sacks and 2 picks and 90 total tackles. I doubt he would come here, he left bitterly feeling as though he never got an opportunity to play every down. Either way, look for Rob to put his stamp on our front seven as a whole, I believe through free agency. The faces may be different in 2011.
The Jason Garrett era is upon us. These are exciting times for us Cowboy fans. New faces usher in new hope. We are familiar with addition by subtraction (see Terrell Owens). We will subtract age and gain wins. Sounds easy enough, right? We have done it before, and we are closer this time than the last.