Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach Jason Garrett has his team in the hunt for the playoffs. At the same time he should find a way to start evaluating some of the younger players on the roster, they could help that quest.
A few weeks ago Jason Garrett's future in Dallas was looking shaky. We've watched Garrett and the team have issues with game/clock management and they have been notoriously slow starters under Garrett's watch this season. But the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys preaches to fight through adversity and take it one day at a time. For Garrett, everything is a process.
The issues on the offensive line clearly dictate what he can do as an offensive coordinator. The injuries continue to pop-up and there is nothing that Garrett can do about that. Then there is the terrible tragedy that involved Jerry Brown and Josh Brent. There isn't a playbook for how to overcome an event like that, but Garrett did the best he could and got his team to pull out a dramatic win in Cincinnati..
He's earned at least another year to get things back on track in Dallas, but Garrett needs to start evaluating the younger talent on the roster. He is in a difficult position because he has to go out there and compete for the playoffs. At the same time, it may be in the best interest of the team to play some of the younger players.
It was only a matter of time before Garrett had to replace Doug Free with Parnell. Garrett rotated the two tackles over the course of the game against the Bengals. Free has had trouble with bull rushes, but he has also had trouble with speed rushers going right by him. Even though Free did play well down the stretch against the Bengals, he still didn't have a performance where he ends the right tackle debate.
I'm not saying Parnell is the next Larry Allen or anything like that, but he does have some upside. The Cowboys clearly saw something a few years ago when they poached him of the New Orleans Saints' practice squad. Parnell started at left tackle for Tyron Smith against the Washington Redskins and had a decent game. Considering that it was his first game starting at left tackle, Parnell did a good job filling in.
At one time, Free looked like he was going to be a great player. Over the last two seasons, he has taken a huge step in the wrong direction. It may be time to see what Parnell can do at right tackle. If you don't give him the opportunity, then you will never know what you have in him.
After seeing increased playing time against the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, Beasley's playing time has decreased significantly. As of writing this, we still don't know if Dez Bryant is going to be able to play the rest of the season. If Dez gets shutdown for the rest of the year, then Garrett needs to find a way to add more firepower to the offense.
Beasley must be utilized so that he can play to his strengths. Beasley can't come in and play on the outside like Bryant does, but there is a home for Beasley in the slot. Garrett needs to implement Beasley into the offense similar to how the Bengals use Andrew Hawkins. Receivers like Hawkins and Beasley have the speed and acceleration to turn a short pass into a big gain. Garrett needs to develop some plays that get Beasley the ball early and allow him to use his speed. Get Beasley in space and let him do his thing.
If Garrett can figure out how to use Beasley, then he will have a weapon that will be new to the Cowboys' offense. There hasn't been a wide receiver on the Cowboys with Beasley's type of game. It can't hurt to design a few plays for him a game.
The Cowboys haven't been the same defense since Barry Church tore his Achilles and was lost for the year. Since his departure, Danny McCray has gone from a special teams ace to a starting safety. McCray is clearly out of his element out there as a starter.
Is McCray a solid football player? Of course he is, but he is most comfortable playing in a hybrid linebacker role where he isn't covering the deep part of the field. When McCray has to make plays in the open field, he is a liability waiting to happen. It would be hard to name one play outside of his interception against the New York Giants where McCray actually made a splash play.
Ultimately Rob Ryan is the defensive coordinator and is in charge of his defense, but Garrett is the head coach. It would make a lot of sense to insert Sterling Moore at free safety. That would allow McCray to go back to his hybrid role, and they could move Gerald Sensabugh over to strong safety.
The Cowboys may have something in Moore. He was plucked off the New England Patriots' practice squad and was signed through 2013. Moore is only in his second season out of SMU, but he played a lot of meaningful snaps during his time in New England. Moore is an interesting guy because of his versatility (something the Cowboys absolutely love in their players). He can play safety and cornerback, but he can also line up in the slot. With Orlando Scandrick on injured reserve, the Cowboys needed to add another defensive back who could play anywhere on the field.
Moore may not get his chance to be a starter in 2012, but he's definitely going to get an opportunity next summer in training camp. Even with a huge signing or draft pick at safety, the Cowboys will have some serious competition brewing in the back end of the secondary.