With the limitations of the 53 man roster, an NFL team has to be very ruthless in who it keeps and who it cuts. Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has stated that he intends to play the best people he has. It is a concept also known as churning the bottom of the roster.
And Bruce Carter is coming off the NFI list soon. Someone has to go to get him onto the roster. So at least one current player has his days as a Dallas Cowboy numbered.
There may be more than one. When a player is not making a positive contribution to the team, the coaching staff should be looking at whether there is a better answer. And when a team is decimated by injuries the way the Cowboys have been, particularly in the skill positions, you need all 53 players to be able to help. If a player isn't, it is probably a good idea to find a replacement who is more likely to be an asset. However, we do know that one has to go soon.
After the first three games of the season, there are three names on the roster that I think have developed some question marks as to just how much they contribute to the team. I certainly don't have any say in how the team addresses them, but I am able to offer my opinion as to what the team could do about each of them. In all three cases, there are also possible alternatives that already exist within the organization, so these are essentially no cost moves that have the potential to improve the team, as well as opening up the slot for Carter.
I'll explain my thoughts after the jump
I hate to talk about this one, because I like David. He has a football playing mentality and he may be the most athletic kicker I have ever seen in the game. But he may be totally irrelevant at this point, thanks to the NFC's Special Teams Player of Week 3, Dan Bailey.
With the six field goal performance Dan put in against the Washington Redskins, David is obviously relegated to kickoff duties. His value to the team is that he is able to cause touchbacks on most kickoffs. But with the new kickoff location, that role seems less important. Bailey has shown he can put kicks into the end zone, although not as consistently or as deeply. Also, for some reason teams seem to running the ball out of the end zone more frequently than they used to. But Dallas has given up an average of 22.1 yards per kickoff. Is 2.1 yards worth of field position worth a roster spot? That math doesn't add up for me.
It would be very hard to figure out why the team is hanging on to David, if the reason didn't have his own radio show. Jerry Jones has come out and stated that David is "too big of an asset" to cut. This is one of those times that the whole owner/GM thing gets to be really galling. However, the Cowboys have at least one more game to see how Bailey handles the kickoff duties. Maybe then Jerry will rethink this.
Some questions have been raised about why Jason Garrett hasn't stepped in on this. I think the theory that JG is picking his battles probably is the most likely explanation. Still, given the decimation the Cowboys have experienced, particularly in the offensive skill positions, this seems like a spot that could be better utilized.
Buehler is a player whose role simply is no longer needed. Ogletree is a player whose role became extremely important, and he then did a crappy job. With both Dez Bryant and Miles Austin suffering through injuries, Kevin had a chance as the number 3 receiver to step up and carry some of the load. Instead, he pretty much stepped on something you generally want to avoid doing that to. He seems to be the latest in the string of Dallas Cowboys #3 wideouts that has hit a ceiling or regressed. Whenever Dez was out during the game Monday night, Kevin was the available receiver with the most experience playing for the Cowboys. He looked like he had been pulled out of the stands and handed a uniform. Laurent Robinson, with only a handful of practices, was much more comfortable in his role, as if he had resorted to some radical step like studying the playbook.
If I were Kevin, I would be very worried. Besides Laurent, Jesse Holley and Dwayne Harris are both pressing him and have the additional value of playing key roles on special teams. Plus Teddy Williams and Andre Holmes (measurables for Andre here) are lurking on the practice squad. KO needs to show a lot more than he has. And I don't think he's going to get the chance, because he has probably used his chances up.
For a while during the offseason, I really expected that Tashard would be cut. There just seemed to be some bad blood between him and Jason Garrett that would not go away. But when Lonyae Miller failed to produce during the preseason games, TC's roster spot was saved.
He has rewarded the team with 15 carries for 14 yards, or 0.9 per carry. When your average yards per carry starts with a zero to the left of the decimal point, it ain't good. And DeMarco Murray is already on the team with a more tolerable 2.7 yd/carry average.
There is also the issue of his decisions at key points. Why did he go out of bounds just before the field goal Monday night? Does playing Washington affect his brain?
Tashard has been unproductive all three games, and I continue to wonder why the team has not at least taken a look at Phillip Tanner. I understand that there may be a desire to have one experienced backup for Felix Jones, who has also been bitten by the injury bug, but running back is the position that rookies are historically the most likely to succeed at. And there are times that JG seems perfectly happy to play without worrying about having a rushing attack. It just seems that Tanner could get into a game to see if he has something to offer - like maybe some short yardage skills?
As I said, at least one player has to go to get Carter active. I think more than one may eventually be cut, but for now, who should be the definite sacrifice to make Chia's Bruce Lee dream come true?
If it were strictly my call, I would pick David Buehler. I just don't like the idea of using a roster space for kicking the ball off. But it's not my call, and I don't think JG is going to challenge JJ on this one. David has always been a Jerry pet cat, and I don't think Jerry is willing to admit that signing a kickoff specialist was not all that useful. His ego just gets in the way here.
With David off the table, it's down to making a hard Choice or cutting the Tree. (Forgive me Lord for making them bad puns there.) I think the team needs to crank up the old chain saw. Tashard has a better resume, and some have argued that he was used in situations so far this year that pretty much limited his effectiveness. I could see him filling in for the Cat and performing credibly. Kevin does not have the same kind of credentials, and the confusion he showed in the Redskins game just soured me on him. More importantly, he already has been asked to fill in, and he pretty much failed. I think Kevin Ogletree's time as a Dallas Cowboy is about to come to an end.