I wonder about some odd things. For instance, I often hear drug warnings on television that caution women who are pregnant, nursing, or might become pregnant, and it bothers me that no one seems to care about the women who might become nurses. Or, if you meet a man who has never eaten chicken, what would you describe chicken as tasting like? Speaking of chickens, who was it that saw a thing fall out of a chicken's butt and decided that it would be a good thing to eat? And back when I was in high school, why was Richard Head always so testy about his name? Poor Dick was angry all the time.
So, as the wildly homeristic predictions and forecasts begin to multiply, I started wondering about just what impact the lockout has on the Cowboys, and how to conceptualize it. I decided to examine one player and try to sort out how his career might be impacted, and more importantly, how the coaching staff's decision making would be affected. This leads to some other thoughts I'll be getting to shortly.
And it all helps clarify just how monumentally the lockout sucks.
So, who do I look at? I immediately thought of backup quaterback Stephen McGee:
- His position on the roster is uncertain. Will he continue as the 3rd string QB? Move to 2nd string? Or might he be traded or cut because some upgrade becomes available?
- He is very much a work in progress. Opinions on him vary from those who think he will succeed Tony as the starting QB to those who think he should be cut now because he has zero potential.
- His position is possibly the one on the team that Jason Garrett is most knowledgeable about and the most directly involved in. I would expect Garrett to make this decision more on his own judgement than just about any other roster move.
- He has the potential to be crucial to the team both in the short term (an injury to he who I will not name for fear of tempting the football gods) and the long term if he is kept.
Looking at the lockout from McGee's perspective, it must be about as good a deal as ifhe were to find out that he was going to have get circumcised. With no anesthetic. Right now.
I cannot think of anyone on the roster who missed out more from losing the OTAs and minicamps. Although, as I mentioned, there is a variety of opinion on his ability and ceiling, there is a bit of agreement that he has physical talent, but lacks the ability to see and read the game as it happens. He has only two seasons of experience, and now he has lost an offseason, when he could have been working with the coaching staff and veterans, and getting some of the reps he needs. This has to hurt his development as a quarterback. For him, there is no upside. It may turn out to be the deciding factor in whether he is even in the league in a year or so. How do think that feels to him?
For the coaching staff, this is just one of a series of headaches. Who is the backup? Do you go with Kitna? He proved he can still play, and he has that field vision, but you can't use his name and the word "mobility" in the same sentence unless you also include the words "lack of". If McGee has growth potential, you would want to be grooming him, but right now, what do you really know? McGee didn't suck in the last game, but he also didn't see a lot of the Phillie first string. If the coaches had been able to work with him and evaluate him for the past three months the way they would have without the accursed lockout, they would probably have a pretty good idea if it was time to move him up a step or move him towards the door. Instead, they have to try and make the decision based on training camp. At this point, they probably are going to have to try to go with him on the roster and hope for the best. Even if he obviously hits a brick wall, I didn't see a lot of really attractive options on the current list of FA quarterbacks. (I might be a little prejudiced about the gag reflex I experienced when I read Brett Favres name. Hey, speaking of circumcision candidates . . .)
But I digress. There is not enough time for the training and practice McGee needs to develop, and the coaches are gonig to have to make a quicker, more pressured decision on what to do about him and his position.
That's one player in one backup role. Now look down the roster. How many more such decisions are there? And remember, the defensive coordinator and three assistants have basically never worked with the team. There are maybe eight or nine players I have rock solid confidence will start the first game. Maybe. Everyone else has to be coached, judged, winnowed out. It's not like, say, the Green Bay Packers, where most of your roster is set, and you can focus on integrating the draftees and a few choice FA signings. For the Cowboys, this is going to be a lot rougher than for many of the other teams. Including our favorites in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington.
I am crappy at trying to predict W-L records. (Show of hands: How many had 6-10 last year?) But I do think this: The Dallas team in the first game of the season is not the team that would have taken the field if there had been no lockout. And I mean literally. I think the team would make different decisions with a full OTA and minicamp slate, plus the extra time allotted for teams changing coaches/coordinators than it will have to make under with the time allowed after the moronic lockout ends.
Further, I don't think we will know what this team really is until October. Hopefully, early October, but I think that in getting everything set and the schemes in place, this team may not catch up to the rest of the NFC East until Halloween. That does not bode well for getting off to a strong start.
There is nothing that can be done, really, to fix it. This is why I observed at one point that an 8-8 season would be something of an accomplishment. A winning record will definitely reflect well on Garrett and his staff.
And the part that makes my stomach turn: It's because of the miserable, shortsighted, wretched, pustulent lockout. If the Cowboys had been able to work and practice normally these past few months, I think the staff would have made up the ground, and have the 'boys ready to go. Then I would be willing to talk about 11-5 or 10-6. It makes me wonder if Jerry Jones really thought about the lockout, and what it could do to the team.
Don't get me wrong. I would be ecstatic if this team shocks the NFL out of the gate. I just am trying to keep a realistic view of what the team faces. It is not an easy path ahead. And at least I hope to avoid the two months of nausea I suffered through last season.
OK. Sorry to try and introduce silly things like logic and reason into my view of the Cowboys. Look, to make it up, can I buy you a glass of Kool Aid? You pick the flavor.