First, I'd like to give a brief background on my thoughts as a Cowboys fan as I've watched my favorite team through the 90s. Then we'll get into my thoughts on what should happen this offseason.
I was born into the 90s Cowboys. I was five years old when the Boys won their first of three Super Bowls of the 90s. By the time I was eight we had won three and exorcised the demons of two Super Bowl losses to the Steelers, which were all too familiar to my Dad. (I, also, was exposed to those gut-wrenching losses through Steve Sabol and NFL films.) It was great!!!
Then came the latter half of the 90s. First, there was a belief that we just needed one or two players to get back on top, then a handful. But when Michael Irvin went down in the fifth game of 1999 season at Philadelphia, it was apparent the 90s Cowboy's greatness had been spent, and a first round loss to the Vikings confirmed what the previous year's first round loss to the once lowly Arizona Cardinals had hinted at-that 1998 and 1999 seasons had been the twilight of the 90s football gods. The original triplets Troy, Michael, and Emmitt had given us three Super Bowls and greatness, but new blood would have to come in and provide the nucleus around which a new dynasty could be built.
Personally, if I had to cite the reason I became interested in the draft, I would give four reasons, 2000: 5-11, 2001: 5-11, 2002: 5-11, and I had the internet. While I was no expert in the draft and will never claim to be, one thing was painfully obvious, the Cowboys were not doing a good job of it.
Jerry Jones had also grown tired of his team's futility and finally seemed to admit the need for change. Bill Parcells brought about change, and started to turn the franchise back in the right direction. It was nice, but at the same time, in 2003, you had the sense that the team was mightily overachieving and were definitely drinking the Kool-Aid if you thought the Cowboys had a shot at the Super Bowl. Reason numbers 1, 2, and 3 would be Quincy Carter.
Then came 2006, which brought the first real hope that the Cowboys could win a Super Bowl since 1996, albeit in the middle of the season, with the emergence of Tony Romo.
Then came the Phillips era, which brought an annual winner, but also erratic play. That was until this season where it brought a lackadaisical attitude that had been brewing to the forefront and very disappointing season to say the least.
Here we are-at a crossroads-offseason 2011. So far I give Jerry Jones an A+ and am now going to outline, what, in my mind, would keep Jerry's grade at an A+ and why. I'm going outline the thoughts of me, a virtual GM, using skills I've been acquiring since early in Y2K.
Why an A+ so far?
1. Jason Garrett is head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Anybody who talks about doing things the Cowboy Way has my vote. Jason displayed that he could field an offensive juggernaut even with a backup QB and an O-line that was old, and managed to get two quarterbacks hammered and thence injured. We had a shot to win every game he coached, and managed to go 5-3 with a team that really had nothing to play for but pride.
2. Rob Ryan is the D-coordinator. What Jason couldn't fix is the defense although he did get them to play hard again. While Pasqualoni's zone schemes attempted to mitigate the damage the worst safety play in the history of the Dallas Cowboys could cause. Ryan's schemes can be even more effective in bringing out players strengths, hiding there weaknesses, and giving fresh looks that confuse the offenses, which will make a big difference.
To keep and A+ the following must happen
1. At least two O-linemen, one in the first round, and another in one of the following three. This will obviously provoke a debate so let me outline why. First, regardless of what the stats say, the line got two quarterbacks injured, that's beyond unacceptable that's downright embarrassing (with the aid and abetment of a certain fullback).
Second, outside of offensive skill players who can make plays, what is more Cowboy Way than a dominant offensive line? Nothing, absolutely nothing. If you disagree, re-watch the Cowboys drubbing of the Vikings in the first round of the 1996 playoffs. There is nothing better than knowing regardless of how good the defensive line of the other team is you can still do whatever you want and they can't stop you. That is 90s Cowboys. That is Cowboys way. If Jason Garrett is serious about being like the 90s Cowboys, he won't settle for an average O-line, it will be an exceptional O-line. A good OL will win us games immediately. Does this sound familiar, jump out to early lead and then run it down your throat? This only works if you have a good O-line. They have to pass block really well early to build the lead, and run block well late to shorten the game and break the will of the opponent.
Third, you can criticize Tony all you want, he's the only person in a Cowboys jersey that makes you believe you can win any game. I really believe that, and thus was not surprised to see the team quit when he got hurt. He has been the hope of bigger and better things to Cowboys nation since he first burst onto the scene, and is the player that makes the Cowboys believe they can win any game any given Sunday.
Finally, Tony will be better under Garrett. Garrett is more of a disciplinarian, which will benefit Romo in two ways. One, it makes it much less likely that Romo will make the ill-advised pass, because he knows he'll be held accountable. Two, while we're on accountability, Tony can hold other players accountable because Grandpa Wade won't be there to exonerate everyone and their grandmother at the presser. There's no reason to listen to Tony if you're going to play anyway. One more reason not to take chances with Tony's health.
2. Alan Ball must not be the starting safety for the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. Name a safety who has started in the history of the Dallas Cowboys for whom you'd rather start Ball. If you can't, you're not alone, I can't either. He's the worst safety in Cowboys history, enough said.
4. CBA must be signed in time for training camp. The Boys will need it-enough said.
5. A safety must be drafted in the first four rounds. Anybody want to argue? Didn't think so.
Obviously, I hope there is free agency, and that we can pick up a couple of contributors. But since there is no CBA as of now I will hold off on my virtual GMing of necessary moves in free agency, though I would say that adding any of the following would make me happy: Michael Huff S, Donte Whitner S, Justin Blalock G, Chris Gocong ILB or a similar type of player.
Alright, comment, critique away, and Go Cowboys!!!