I love the Cowboys. I spend entirely too much time paying attention to their draft, FA moves, camp practices, etc…If you’re reading this, then you are likely just the same. But I am also a realist…and I REALLY think the Cowboys are going to be bad again in 2011.
This team was 6-10 in 2010, and don't tell me it was because Romo went down. The team was awful with him and awful without...and both he and Kitna actually played pretty well. No, this team was bad for 2 reasons - the running game (or lack there-of) and Team Defense.
Dallas was unable to run the ball effectively. They could not impose their will on opposing defenses and were forced to throw the ball too much. This made them predictable and put our Defense on the field too much and wore them down. Not to mention that they allowed their franchise QB to get killed. This comes down to an ineffective O-line and average RB's.
As well, their Defense couldn't stop anyone. They didn't put pressure on the QB. They were average against the run, bad against the pass, on the field too long, and although improved from years past, still didn't get key turnovers. Worst of all, they simply couldn't keep teams from scoring when the game was on the line.
So what has the team done to address their faults or shortcomings?
They've added....new coaches? They've .... cut players?
Sure those guys cut were indeed overpaid when compared to their 2010 on-field performances, but they were also likely better on the field than whatever is sliding into those spots. So does that give anyone hope that Dallas will be improved? Not me.
Gurode - well my opinion on him is lower than many. I think he's average at best - and at his age, another year older usually means he'll likely be getting worse.
Montre Holland for BIGG. Definite down-grade. Bigg might not have been what he was a couple of years ago, but he's, well BIG, and strong, and experienced...while Holland appears to be just a guy.
Smith - Well, I hear lots about potential, but he's a rookie, so he's going to make mistakes and get beat - a lot.
So if I'm an opposing Defense, I'm overloading the right side on passing downs. Which, in turn, means Witten and RB's are going to be forced to stay in to protect, diminishing our offensive options and sending more balls to the 3rd WR, which is......????Ogletree? How good do you feel about that?
At RB, they have 2 guys, neither of whom they believe can carry the load, and a rookie, who has a significant injury history and is.....Injured!
AND on Defense...
They needed to upgrade both Safety spots, the D-line and possibly CB...and so far, they have done -nothing. And the BIG move is to possibly bring in Abram Elam, a guy from the VAUNTED Cleveland Browns D, and a guy who couldn't make this team under Bill Parcels. I gave up on Sensabaugh when he didn't even turn his head on a playable ball down the right sideline allowing a TD that could have changed Dallas' s playoff fortune, but is Elam or anyone else they could sign at this point an upgrade, an even trade or a downgrade? I'd say even-trade at best.
and then what, Barry Church? Alan Ball? AOA? How are any of those options going to make the team better?
So Steven Bowen was a big priority. They let him get away - not that I thought he was crucial, considering he was a backup/part-timer on our D last year, which was the worst in team history...but they follow that up by resigning Marcus Spears at $4Million+ per year? Didn't we all want Spears run out of town? And wasn't he a STARTER on the worst D in franchise history?
Now they've signed Kenyon Coleman - yet another former castoff and a guy who terrorized defenses for the top D, oh wait, no, he was on the Brown's again.
And so as we look at the free agents that Dallas didn't sign - Namdi, Cullen Jenkins, Huff, Mikkel, another O-lineman. I have to wonder - Jerry thought he was getting Namdi...and yet he knew he was going to have to still sign some other FA's beyond that. So clearly he had figured out the dollars to bring in at least 2 more FA's + Namdi. So why, when Namdi went off the board, didn't we shift to get Bowen, or Jenkins or Huff or even Elam?
I understand that this team has to be smart, to get itself into a better financial situation, so over-paying for certain guys is a bad idea, but these were things that were clearly going to be done this year, regardless - and if the cost of signing your biggest priorities is a million more per year, when you just "saved" 10+ per year, by not signing Namdi, why skimp?
And so really what do any of us have to hold on to that tells us this team will be better? Rob Ryan. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to have him...but I fear it's more for the sake of change. He's like Obama. It was cool at first to have a big change. It meant a new hope. But after a while, we all realize the problems are still the same and there are no magic solutions. Is Ryan alone going to mean a 5 game jump - what it will likely take to get into the playoffs? I don't think so.
And finally, take a look at the teams improving in the NFC: Philly looks significantly improved. Atlanta looks improved, Green Bay is getting 15 injured players back, and someone has to win the West. So then you are looking at likely fighting for 2 wildcard spots against Chicago, Detroit, Tampa, New Orleans, Minnesota and the Giants - all teams who have stayed even or improved on paper...and were already better than Dallas last year.
Jerry must have a solid plan and make shrewd moves. Chasing Asomugha, losing Bowen and Jenkins, overpaying for Spears, cutting Bigg to go with Holland or 2 rookies on the right side and having no safeties 5 days into camp shows neither a plan nor shrewdness...more of the same Jerry as in the past 15 yrs.
I hate to be a downer, but what is Jerry doing to improve the 2011 Dallas Cowboys? In my opinion, nothing.