When first logging on to my computer in the morning, I tend to try to figure out what has gone on in the X number of hours I haven't been with the program. Usually this first involves stumbling to a computer and going to BTB to read the latest 8 Am posting of news. However, sometimes I want opinions that I do not agree with, and so I begin searching the "common" Sports sites on the internet. Well in my search this morning I stumbled upon a Tim MacMahon article that really surprised me.
"Jason Garrett is Making Excuses" Excuse me? Of all the people to make excuses in the world -I'm looking at you, Jerry and Rob- the first person you attack is the RHPF, Red Headed Poker-Face? After the jump I'll examine just what it is that MacMahon is calling out Garrett for.
With all due respect towards Mr. MacMahon, I disagree with his conclusions. There is a saying that I'm pretty sure is a common one all across America, although if it's specifically relegated to New York I'll introduce him to it: Actions speak louder than words.
We've all complained multiple times about Jason Garrett. His first speech after becoming Interim Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys went something like this:
Questioner: "Jason, how do you feel about the state of the defense?"
Garrett: "Well, there are some things that we want to address and do differently. All I know is that we are going to face the New York Giants at 4:15 ET at Giants Stadium. They're a pretty good football team." (On a side note, I'm going to have that quote seared into my head until I die. I hope you win a Superbowl, or that noisome quote will be one of ire).
Expecting a straight answer out of Garrett is like shooting fish in a barrel. Seriously, try it some time, it's not as easy as you think and Garrett has a funny little way of wriggling out of saying things that he does not want to. So rather than actually taking MacMahon, or Garrett for that matter, at his word let's take a look at all the moves that Jason Garrett made this year and see whether we can actually agree with either one on this one.
He released Roy Williams; Made Dez Bryant the #2 WR. He released Marion Barber and went into the season with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice as the 1 and 2 RBs. He released Marc Columbo and put in rookie RT Tyron Smith. He released Leonard Davis and put in the Cerberus Bill Ngay, Kevin Kowalski, Montrae Holland, and Derrick Dockery to man the position. He released Andre Gurode and put in 2nd year UDFA Phil Costa at Center. In the middle of the season he got so fed up with Tashard Choice that his starting two RBs became Demarco Murray and Phil Tanner. He put in Sean Lee, a 2nd Year Linebacker, as the primary linebacker of 3. He, Lee, was almost always on the field.
That's not to mention the personnel decisions he made: Rob Ryan, Matt Eberflus, Jimmy Robinson, Mike Woick, Brian Baker. Were any of these names on the Dallas Cowboys before this year? In a shortened offseason? In a sport where the media pundits preach in hindsight, but neglect in foresight, that consistency is key, that a team and a culture need to gel in order for it to be the most effective team.
Let's look at the most successful teams currently in the NFL Playoffs: Steelers, Saints, Packers, Ravens, Patriots. All of these have one thing in common among them: Consistency, same basic players in positions with a few changes.
On the other hand you have the Cowboys, the Eagles, and the Giants, who have all lost and gained players at Key Positions and changed coaching schemes. I think it's fairly obvious one of the reasons why they are not in the best of positions right now.
I've got news for all of the pundits as well. Unfortunately for you, and for all of us fans, we, as a team, are not going to gain consistency over night. Perhaps, even worse, we might be an 8-8 team next year, based off of SOS, a much better team than this year, but 8-8 all the same. The same overhaul will happen to defense that happened to offense this year. Expect to see Newman, Brooking, James, Spencer, all key guys in our defense over the past couple of years, gone. We already have some replacements for them: Lee, Carter (we hope), Scandrick (Janoris Jenkins you are our only hope), Butler (Some Pass Rusher somewhere, you are our only hope), Orie Lemon/Alex Albright (Could probably man the #3 LBer position in a pinch and one could probably grow into a solid #3. I hope Albright gets put back in at OLB though, just consult FiTat on this.), but we hardly want to go into the new season with these guys as our defense
Sometimes I feel like the Spanish Inquistion: "Amongst our needs is a new interior O-Line, a new defense, consistency and a fanatical devotion to the RHG." Last part not necessary.
To return to the original point. I will answer MacMahon's concerns. The 2011 Dallas Cowboys team was a team with serious flaws. Further, some of those flaws were at key positions which Garrett released players. I suspect the reason that some is not an all is because there is no way to drastically alter that many players on your starting lineup and field a competitive football team. Of the positions that Garrett replaced some of them worked out (Lee, Smith, Murray, Bryant); others did not turn out so well (Costa is the one who stands out in my mind); and some are still up for debate (The Cerberus, although if you told me we could replace that with a blue-chipper I'd take it). I think the philosophy is clear that the growth and development of young players is more important than the immediate talent of old and regressing old players. It is up to Garrett to make sure he finds the right young players to affect this change. If someone can't see this, maybe he/she cannot see the forest for the trees. We should not have needed Jason Garrett to tell us in a presser what we already should have known. Remember, actions speak louder than words.