Sometimes when I write about the Dallas Cowboys, I put on my objective hat and take a look at the issues facing the team. I acknowledge that the team is in a rebuilding era and that things may not go as well as I would hope. But every now and then, I get a big, cold pitcher of Cowboys Blue Kool Aid out of the fridge and pour a tall one.
So let me grab my homer hat and talk today about something I feel is positive, and put aside all the "buts" and "howevers" for a while. The realists out there can chime in with their comments (yes, Larry, that is an invitation), but right now I want to go over something that makes me feel very good about the team. And it is something that, if I am right, will lead to good things for seasons to come. After all, I first started reading BTB because I was a fan of the Star, and that has not changed.
To get a taste of that wonderful Kool Aid, read on past the jump.
I had pretty much decided what I was going to write today. Then in a nice little moment of serendipity, I was driving home and tuned in to a local sports talk show, which, being here in East Texas, devoted some time to the Cowboys. The host of the show on Talk FM out of Longview is a man named Craig Smoak. He was observing about how quiet it has been around Cowboys camp this year. He spent a week in San Antonio, and he said he thought that the other sports reporters had the same opinion. There was little controversy, just a quiet, business-like approach to getting ready for the new season. And that was entirely a good thing.
No holdouts. When the time came that the team needed to restructure some contracts to get a little breathing room under the cap, they got done with no fuss and no muss. There has been zero drama that I can tell. Even when a veteran player gets demoted to the second team while pretty rampant speculation is going on that he is going to be cut, he plays the good soldier.
Talk about a new culture. It's nothing like the past, when disgruntled receivers were complaining about their roles, or there were big name free agent signings that didn't always work out going on. There was one moment of frenzy when it looked like Nnamdi Asomugha was going to be signed, but then it turned out he was going to the hated Philadelphia Eagles. Jerry Jones decided that he just wasn't worth the price, and didn't pay what he would have had to for NA to come to Dallas.
Would that have happened in recent years? I don't think so. Things have changed in Dallas. I like to see it as a clear sign that Jerry no longer is the only one with his hand on the wheel in making decisions about who the team is going to go after. There are two other hands, and they are helping steer a much better course for the team.
The first, of course, is Jason Garrett. As OCC pointed out earlier, quite a few of us are huge backers of the man we fondly call the Red Headed Genius. The really gratifying thing to do is to step back a bit and look at the bigger pattern. And for the first time in a long time, there is a clear, understandable pattern to see. Dallas drafts offensive linemen, a running back and a receiver, and then the first big name cuts when the lockout (which, I may have mentioned before, sucked) ends, are offensive linemen, a running back, and a receiver. Coincidence? I think not.
And with the NA saga, Jerry passes on one of his signature moves, a big, splashy free agent signing in quest of a silver bullet to create an instant winner. This time, cooler heads prevail. I have to believe that Jason Garrett played a major role in slowing that train down. I'm sure he consulted with Rob Ryan and the rest of the coaching staff, but there is a little Harry Truman in the RHG. The buck stops with him, and the final decision for the staff is his.
But I don't think he did it alone. I believe there is another hand on the controls, one that moves in close concert with Garrett's. That is the son and heir apparent to the owner, Stephen Jones. From what I can see, all signs point to Stephen being a firm and determined supporter of Jason Garrett. And he is probably the one man in the organization who has no fear of going toe to toe with Daddy and telling him exactly how the cow ate the cabbage. (Gratuitous old fogey reference there.) I believe Stephen is taking a very long view towards the day he will be the head man. I think he loves the Cowboy Way and plans to make it a permanent part of the franchise.
The NA kerfuffle is the most obvious bit of evidence, but not the only one. The entire patient approach to free agency is an indicator. The fact that veterans are not getting any guarantees if younger players show more promise is another. It all just keeps adding up to the rightness of the Garrett Era and where the team is going. At least that is how I see it.
Does all that mean a Super Bowl victory is coming this season. No. Do I think the team will be markedly improved and much more fun to watch after the runny pile of dog feces that was the first eight games of 2010? And quite likely for years to come?
Oh, yeah. Kool Aid's here.