For about a month now, since Jason Garrett introduced the term in his post-draft press conference, we have been throwing around the term "The Right Kind of Guy" to describe the type of player that Garrett wants on his team as he labors to restore the "Cowboy Way." In case any of you were under a rock in late April-early May, I'll quickly cover that territory--ground initially (and meticulously) cultivated by our own O.C.C.--immediately after the draft. The term first found footing in an interview with ESPN and NFL Live analyst Trey Wingo, who asked Garrett about the Cowboys’ draft philosophy. Garrett responded, "The most important thing is we talk about what it means to be a Dallas Cowboy, the kind of guys we want on our football team....they’re the Right Kind Of Guys, we think they’re good football players."
This got me to thinking--and posting. In the first installment of this series, I considered the 2011 draft class, comparing them to the last group of draftees composed largely of RKG types: the glorious haul of 2005--a group on the verge of becoming one of the strongest classes of the seven-round draft era. Today, I'd like to turn to the guys already on the Cowboys roster, with this question in mind: who, in Garrett's estimation, is a RKG?
We'll take a closer look at what constitutes an RKG and consider who might qualify as one after the jump...
In his post-draft presser, when asked what constitutes the "right kind of guy, Jason Garrett responded, "Obviously they have to have the physical requirements to play this game. The measurables, the talent, the aptitude to play. Part of that is being "The Right Kind Of Guy." Then he went on to elaborate more specifically the traits of an RKG: "You want guys who love to play football and show you that they love it each and every day. Passion, enthusiasm, emotion, all of those things come into it....It's one thing to talk that, but you need to see that."
Given the degree to which Garrett has already made important changes to the culture at Valley Ranch, I can only imagine that one of those changes will be to remake the roster in his image, filling it with these RKG-type players. As we begin to think about what the Cowboys will look like in 2011 and beyond, therefore, we can use the RKG rubric as a helpful assessment tool to determine who is likely to stick and who's going to receive a visit from the dreaded Turk.
So, who on the current Dallas roster can we say with certainty qualify as RKGs? We know of one for sure, thanks to Garrett: "You can't get better than Jason Witten. This is a rare guy." After singling our # 82, he went on to note that "there are a number of other guys like him who we love." Who might have been granted membership to this exclusive club? When pressed further about RKGs, Garrett reiterated the characteristics befitting such a profile: "You want a physical team. Guys who play with emotion, passion and enthusiasm. And it shows up in their play." So, clearly there are three overriding traits: Passion, Emotion, Enthusiasm--as well as the evident demonstration of these traits.
It appears to be a pretty simple formula, but not one particularly easy for outsiders to assess, due to the fact that we can't see how guys conduct themselves at the Ranch. Consider: Witten is the archetypal RKG. We know he is workmanlike and professional in the extreme. But how passionate or emotional is he? On gamedays, he can show a little emotion--but he's comparatively understated. This is a long way around explaining that the following ratings--and any such ratings by fans--are likely to be wildly speculative. That said, speculation is fun, so let's take a stab at it. Here are ol' Rabble's best RKG conjectures:
Inner circle (in talking about Witten and his ilk, Garrett said, "They'll be great leaders for these new guys who come in to say, 'Keep doing it the way you've been doing it. You've been the right kind of guy, we expect the same from you now. We have these guys to show you how to do that.'"):
Next concentric circle (guys who do it the right way but aren't as outspoken as leaders or, in the case of Kitna, aren't starters):
Up-n-comin' youngsters (recent draftees who I can see being core RGKs in a few years' time):
On the rosters edge (guys who display key RKG traits and bring them to everything they do but don't have the talent to live anywhere other than the bottom of the roster, and thus are always in danger of being cut):
Used-to-bes (core RKGs in the recent past who, because of age, injury, contract status, or a combination thereof, aren't likely to be on the roster in 2011):
Viable candidates (players who I strongly considered as RKGs but didn't because of uncertainty in one category):
One of the things this list makes clear is the preponderance of RKGs gleaned from the 2003 and 2005 drafts--and the comparative paucity of RKGs found in 2006-2009. That could manifest in several possible outcomes: several players from 2007 or 2008 will soon step up and become the next generation of RKGs; there will be a leadership void once the 2003 and 2005 draft classes retire; the Cowboys will seek to extend the contracts of guys like Witten and Ratliff even though they know they won't get on-the-field return for them, because they'll need them to show guys how to "do it right."
Another is that nobody brought in in 2008 is an RKG--and several of the class of 2008 will appear on my "Who's not an RKG" list in part III. This collection of goofballs (and I include Roy Williams in that group) was brought to the team after the best regular season in recent memory: the 13-3 2007 campaign. This gestures towards Jerry Jones' mindset when the Cowboys are winning: he tends to make riskier decisions, thinking he has wiggle room since there is "so much talent" on the roster. However, rosters change so much over a three- or four-year period; for example, only four of the twelve defensive starters (counting the nickel corner) from 2007 will be on the roster in 2011. That's a lot of churn--and a fairly normal amount.
The upshot? Lets hope that Jason Garrett's steadying influence and long-term vision continue to have a voice in the Cowboys' warroom, so that a steady influx of RKGs will come in the doors at Valley Ranch. Hey, show me 22 Jason Wittens and I'll show you a champion.