A lot of us would like to be GM of the Cowboys. Sure, we'd rather be QB or running back . . . but GM is not bad either.
You Can't Beat the Perks
As GM, you make a bunch of money to do what many of us do here for free: figure out how to get the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl. And, until this year, I'm sure there were a LOT of us who could have done a better job of being GM of the Cowboys than Jones has.
As GM, you have lots of resources at your disposal. You've got scouts and coaches. You've got whatever film you want, edited just so. You can hire math geeks to crunch the numbers. Heck, you can even read some high quality analysis by the Front Pagers on this website, not to mention the great contributions from FanPosters like Chia and Bling. And with all of Jerry's cash, well, there's no reason not to have just about anything you'd want in order to make good decision.
Then there's the great seats, mingling with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, the corporate jets, staying at nice hotels on the road, and, well, you get the picture.
The problem is, that picture has not looked so good. Jerry has made more head scratching decisions in the last 15 years than any other GM in the NFL.
The Big Picture
Still, as frustrating as they are, thinking about the Cowboys is a LOT better than thinking about the economy, the turmoil in the Middle East, the riots in Europe, or my new lab, Lilly, who has personally chewed up a Kindle, my best dress shoes, two couches, kitchen chairs, books, and things too numerous to mention.
While my dog makes me a little crazy, from time to time, I've wanted to eat a few couches myself these last few years after watching the Cowboys spit up leads and make boneheaded mistakes.
But I'm wondering if maybe there is some hope for next year.
The Great Red Hope
As disappointed as I am about this season (and my dog LIlly), there is one thing I'm most encouraged by . .
More after the jump.
The new players we picked up this year. For all the Jerry Jones bashing, and most of us have been there and for good reason, you have to be pleased with the early returns and the long term outlook. I'm not saying that makes Jones GM of the year, but talent acquisition is obviously the key to being in the playoffs, and in an important way, the Cowboys seemed to turn a corner philosophically and go in a new direction.
I can only assume that direction is a result of Jason Garrett. Still, Jerry really does make the final decision, but it just may be that, at least as far as talent acquisition goes, he's finally grown as a GM. And not without some pains.
The Red Philosophy
I'm assuming that Garrett had a major role in the acquisition of talent, and this next season we'll have a little bit better idea if a real pattern has emerged in this talent acquisition area. First, let's go back in time to what Garrett said (via a post by OCC):
In a segment on ESPN, Trey Wingo asked Jason Garrett what the Cowboys philosophy was in this draft:
Jason Garrett: "The most important thing is we talk about what it means to be a Dallas Cowboy, the kind of guys we want on our football team. If you look at the guys we've selected, each of these six guys represents that. They're good football players. The top three guys are from big schools. They're prominent players at that school, they have production at a high level. And then as we've gotten a little further down in the draft we've been able to take some guys who we think can fit a particular role for us. At least to create some competition on our football team. Again, they have the right measurables, they're the Right Kind Of Guys, we think they're good football players."
The Right Kind of Guys. What the Cowboys did this past off season was something they should have been doing for a long time. Cutting older players and bringing in new talent. Guys like Barber and even Choice needed to go. In their place, we have Murray, a pick a lot of us rightly questioned, and Tanner, a guy who may be a fourth-quarter running back down the road, someone who can pick up tough yards and grind out the clock and maybe a guy who can punch it in from the 2. Plus there was the pick up of Fiammetta. Finally, we have a full back. Murray, though, looks like a guy who can win a rushing title. He makes the line better and takes some of the load off Romo. And we got him in the third round.
The Meat and Potatoes
In the first round, we went for the meat and potatoes guy that Jerry hates to go after in round one. We took Smith. And he has not disappointed. This guy will move to the blind side next year and start his journey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yes, it's early to say that. But the talent is there and he's so young. I love this pick.
But it wasn't just him. It was drafting some other guys in this area. Naggy, Kawalski, Arkin. You hope one of these guys can get stronger, participate in the off season program, and become a fixture. (Lord knows we need the help in the interior line). What I liked about this direction was that it was unglamorous. It wasn't another skills player. They weren't reaches. And yes when you get into the fourth round and beyond, it's never a sure thing. So we'll see.
Plus, we cut some older, over-paid guys that were eating up cap space and not making the contribution any more, guys that in years past would have gotten yet another contract extension.
Laurent Robinson and other Receivers
I love this guy and hope they resign him. Finally, we have a three receiver set that could give Romo the chance to have one of those Drew Brees years. Yes, he'll need a center who can snap the damn football some where besides over Romo's head (or snap it when Romo's not looking).
Let's face it, the new rules make it an imperative to open up the offense and score lots of points. But if healthy, and with more shoring up of the interior line, the offense, which this last year could never put up consistently high numbers, could be special.
And let's not forget about Raymond Radway before he broke his fibula. Big (6'3") and fast (4.42 40) and not afraid to go over the middle. Even Dwayne Harris made some contributions in the return game late in the year. I hope Radway comes back strong and gives the Cowboys a reason to get rid of Ogletree. But in any event, I just like the way the Cowboys turned a weakness into a strength.
The jury is still out on Bruce Carter. He didn't get many snaps because of his injury. However, he's a guy who could really make this one of the great draft hauls in a while. All he needs to do is become next year's Sean Lee. This will be a key guy to watch in the off -season and next year. And for those of you rolling your eyes, you're perfectly right to do so. The Cowboys second rounders have not consistently become starters, much less stars. (Consider Julius Jones, Jacob Rogers, Martellus Bennett, Anthony Fasano, and Kevin Burnett). If that pattern continues, then it's a major red mark on the Cowboys for one big reason. They picked a player whom they knew wouldn't be healthy for much of the year and who therefore wouldn't contribute this year. They did that the year before last with Sean Lee. And if you are going to use a high second round pick AND not have him for the first year, then you better be extra sure it's going to pay off.
I know he finally missed some kicks down the stretch, but this looks like a guy who can hold the job for the next ten years and go to some pro bowls in the process.
So it makes it very interesting heading into this off season. What young guys will the Cowboys find? Will they continue to aggressively rid themselves of older players and make way for younger guys and will those guys be, as Jason Garrett said, "the right kind of guys"?
I sure hope so.