Rome wasn't built in a day, but who's to say that the Death Star has to be completed before The Empire can strike back?
During the draft, a good portion of the BtB community became increasingly frustrated with the players this team was acquiring. More accurately, they were upset with who the Cowboys were leaving on the board with every pick. The word "project," a description that draws a shiver down many a spine in recent years, was thrown about the threads with increasing fury. People wanted immediate improvement and felt they weren't getting it.
Fans want to win now. They want to beat our rivals now, they want to make the playoffs now, and they want to win the Super Bowl now. They don't want to wait for this defense to build itself on "projects," hoping they don't go the way of Jason Williams or AOA, especially given the closing windows of our star players. Many talk as if the defense must be dominant or really good right now for us to succeed. But that's not true. In the short term, it's not important for us to have a dominating defense (although it would be nice). Let me explain.
What's important is that our defense is good enough to get us in the playoffs because anybody can win it all once they're in. So the real question for 2012 is: Have the acquisitions in free agency and the draft made our defense good enough? I think so. Here's why:
Despite all the ups and downs of last year, we were still one game away from the playoffs. Just one.
Five of our eight losses were in games where we had the lead late in the 4th quarter. Below is a list of those games with the amount of time left after we lost the lead:
In the NWE and ARZ games, our opponent started deep in their own territory and drove down the field to score. All but the NYJ and ARZ games required a TD for the opponent to win. Even if you put all the blame on Romo for those first two losses (and I'm not), there are still three other games where our defense largely failed when it mattered most. And in all of those games, the secondary was a central theme in the defeat. Imagine what could have been if we just played a little better in those situations.
After this offseason, we can all agree that our secondary is improved. The coverage skills of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne aid our pass rush by making the QB wait, even if it's for a split second. Their ability to create turnovers gives the offense more opportunities to score. So with the simple addition of two CB's, and all the other new players, this defense, this team, is that much better.
We don't have to go 16-0, or be the #1 seed, or even have home field advantage. We just have to get in and give ourselves a chance. And if you want to think optimistically like me, remember that the Houston Texans went from one of the worst defenses in the league, to one of the best in a single offseason.