I started my current string of posts to try and give the BTB crowd something to read during the zombie apocalypse known as the lockout. There are some indications things are getting close to a resolution, but in the meantime we still must plod on.
Before I get to todays topic, I just want to say that trying to come up with a post a day gives me new respect for the front page writers. I don't know how they keep up with everything. I can't keep up with all the stuff in the Fanposts section as it is, and this is a slow time. I have no idea how they gather up all the information they do and write their articles and keep up with what is being posted. And there aren't any games going on. What must it be like during the season. It amazes me.
Well, except OCC. Him being a cyborg with a giant supercomputer brain, and all.
That, and the front page posts on Bruce Carter, made me start thinking. What will the 2011 Cowboys look like? Obviously, we can't really start trying to project who makes the 53 man roster (which could get bigger under the CBA) until the reviled and hated lockout ends and we at least find out who winds up in camp. I just like trying to speculate what the first real Garrett Era edition of the Cowboys will look like. And it is exactly that, pure speculation and opinon.
First, I expect a lot of churn. This is where Coty's article got my devious and twisted mind going. There are some salary cap issues, and JG has made a commitment to keeping/bringing in the RKG. Once the team is able to start making some moves, I think we will get a really good idea who the WKGs are on the roster right now. They will be the ones being released or shopped for trades, and I think there will be several. Some will get a chance to change JG's mind during the training camp, but by the time the final roster cut is made, maybe as many as 20 or so currently on the roster will be out the door. Maybe even more, if some people step up in camp. A couple of these will be surprises, either in getting released or in sticking with the team. It will serve to remind us that we don't know what the coaches really see.
Second, I think we are going to see smarter players, although not necessarily as athletically gifted as we might wish. This was a thought that came to me while walking my little foofoo dog (it's my wife's dog, actually, but it hangs with me all the time because I treat it like it's a real dog). I do a lot of my writing in my head while I'm walking the dog and puffing a cigar, actually. Anyway, given the fact that training camp is all the time the staff will have to work with new players, and that it may be shortened if the owners and players don't get this deviant and perverse lockout over with quickly, I believe that the staff is going to place a premium on the ability to learn and apply new schemes and ideas, on never being out of place. It is going to be more valuable to the team to be in place and know your assignment than to have an incredibly explosive move that doesn't always go the direction the coach wants it to. In a normal year (I never realized how I would long for something normal), the coaches could go with someone with superior athletic ability who takes a little longer to absorb assignments and formations and work to get them up to speed. I just don't think the team can afford that, and we may see some better athletes get cut in favor of a quick study who doesn't screw up. These roster moves will be puzzling if you don't look beyond the raw ability involved. This will include one or two players sticking around when everyone out here in fanland thinks they must be cut. I can't predict who, just betting that it will happen.
Third, I suspect this team is going to get mean. I don't think they are going to talk about it much, but I think the play on the field is going to be nastier than we have seen from the 'boys in a while. This will be a confluence of the anger felt by the players over last season, the hunger to prove themselves, Garrett's concept of the Cowboy Way, and Ryan's approach to defense. It will include a tendency to do the talking on the field rather than in the press, to communicate with actions, not words. This may be an area that will cause problems for some of the current players who like to talk too much, and I predict someone is going to get called out by a teammate or teammates over their mouth before the season is over. (Marty B is one, but not the only, candidate.)
Fourth, the team is going into the season a bit unjelled, and there will be a game when it comes together. I think it will come after the bye, and the overall record for the season hinges greatly on how soon after the bye. If it is the next week, then this team can have a shot at the playoffs. If not, then this season becomes a bridge between the turmoil and ineptitude we saw the first half of last year and the success I believe JG is going to take this team to.
I do not expect to see a big FA signing. If there is one, I will worry about it unless I can see that it was a move by JG and not by JJ. The scariest thing for me going into the season is if JJ starts returning to his old ways. So far he seems to be leaving things up to JG, but he has been preoccupied by the nonsense of the totally ridiculous lockout, and there hasn't been much to do anyway. We will see once real personnel decisions start to get made. On this issue, I don't have a prediction, just a fervent hope.
Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. The lockout drags on, still sucking. And I keep longing for someone to get it over with.