I find it fascinating how adults frequently learn from children. Last holiday season, my father in law's health was failing rapidly. My wife flew out at last minute to be with him during his last few hours on earth.
He served in the army and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Heartfelt thanks to him and all of those who have so selflessly served our great country.
So Mommy was not going to be home for Christmas morning, but she would be back on the 26th. The kids were presented with the following choice:
1. Would you like to open presents without Mommy on Christmas morning, or
2. Would you mind waiting an extra day to open your presents so Mommy could be here too?
Now I imagine those that do not have children, can still remember the ardent fever that overcomes children on Christmas morning when presents are sitting under the tree. For that reason, I was amazed when my kids picked choice 2...
They were willing to sacrifice one day of playing with toys that had been enticing them for days to share the experience with their Mommy. The kids knew Mommy would like to be around, and they would like to have her at home too. Children that were younger than 6 years old showed great patience and foresight.
They made me very proud. If only adults could see things this clearly: if only I could more frequently...
These days, a diluted, diminished fever overcomes me when I know a big Cowboys game is on the horizon. It is not quite like opening a present under the tree as a kid, but it is similar.
About a week ago I posted this on BTB:
The post described how the Cowboys had twelve quality players on the roster. Today I read a well-penned piece by one of my favorite sports personalities, Bob Sturm.
Both stories touch on the same subject: the Dallas Cowboys lack the talent necessary to win a Super Bowl. Jason Garrett reiterated the point that he made last night today in his press conference this afternoon: "We need to get better". Garrett alluded to adhering to a long-term plan that included purging overpaid-underperforming veterans, making coaching changes, and infusing more talent through the draft with the right kind of guys.
Garrett mentioned correcting the financial inequities present on the team and weathering the growing pains these changes would bring about. He spoke about staying the course or maintaining the current direction. Jason wants this team to be more talented, creating more competition within the team, leading to more consistent execution throughout the entire season, with improvement noted as the season progresses. Garrett intimated that he wants a younger, more talented team, and that Jerry Jones was completely on board navigating this course.
"But where is this team right now? How long will this reconstruction take?" These were the questions volleyed to Jason from the Dallas media.
Here is where the team currently stands:
Against teams that had losing records, the Cowboys were 7-0 (Washington 5-11 [twice], St. Louis 2-14, Seattle 7-9, Buffalo 6-10, Miami 6-10, and Tampa Bay 4-12). Dallas defeated one team with a winning record (San Francisco 13-3) and lost to every other team that had a non-losing record (New York 9-7 [twice], Philadelphia 8-8 [twice], New York Jets 8-8, New England 13-3, Detroit 10-6, and Arizona 8-8).
Not one team that is worse than the Cowboys beat Dallas this season. The Cowboys are not a bad team, merely a slightly below average one: that is why Dallas sports the 14th overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft. A fair representation of the team's standing within the NFL.
In contrast to the scattershot approach to talent acquisition utilized by former Cowboys coaching greats (tongue in cheek) Dave Campo and Wade Phillips, this coaching regime has a plan. Listening to Bryan Broaddus last night for the season's final post game wrap-up offered some insight.
Broaddus is a former Cowboys scout with contacts still littering the Dallas scouting staff. Bryan bellowed that his scouting associates were all impressed and pleased with how Garrett understands the scouting process and facilitates talent acquisition through the resources available in the scouting department.
According to the scouts at Valley Ranch, Jason Garrett has an eye for talent akin to that of Jimmy Johnson. And Jimmy also has had a major influence on Garrett's philosophical approach of talent acquisition, improvement through youthful competition, and the elimination of relatively non-productive players.
This is what Cowboys fans have been longing for since Jerry and Jimmy split up. This is an exciting transitional time in the history of this storied franchise.
But it will take time...
Take into account the Cowboys' inability to beat most average and above average teams this season when looking at the Cowboys' schedule for 2012. Remember that Dallas went 1-4 against playoff teams this season (losses to New York [twice], Detroit, and New England).
In 2012 the Dallas Cowboys play 7 games (New York [twice], Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Atlanta) against teams that have made the 2011 NFL playoffs. The Cowboys also have three more games against teams that finished with 8-8 records in 2011 (Philadelphia [twice], and Chicago).
In the second season of this restoration project, the Cowboys may be slightly improved, but based on this last season's results, the Cowboys projected finish is around 7-9. In essence, 8-8 in 2012 may be an improvement in performance despite no difference in the record.
Last season, the starting offense underwent a facelift with about a 45% turnover rate. Expect similar results in 2012 given the similar strategy that will be employed to improve the defense.
Look at how the abbreviated 2011 offseason took shape. Garrett released Marion Barber III, Roy Williams, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, and Andre Gurode. Expect to see Terence Newman, Abram Elam, Bradie James, Keith Brooking, and Anthony Spencer to be dismissed next season. That is about 36% of the starting defensive lineup.
This voyage has had a promising start on some fronts, with some unexpected setbacks at others. Garrett acknowledged this in his press conference today. The highly amoebic draft will dictate the arrival time from this trip. That the captain of the Cowboys has a singular focus on the right kind of guy, and has already shown a propensity to select quality players (e.g., Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, and Dan Bailey) should suggest that better days are just beyond the horizon.
But patience will be necessary. This present may not be opened until 2013.