I am going to start this with a disclaimer: Daryl "Moose" Johnston is my favorite Dallas Cowboys player of all time. There was something about the way he excelled in the blue collar job of fullback, and the dignity and class he always showed, that just reached out to me.
He has gone on to become one of my favorite broadcasters as well. I frankly prefer it when he is doing a Cowboys game rather than Troy Aikman, another Cowboy I am moderately fond of. But that may have something to do with the fact that Troy always shows up with Joe Buck.
Regardless of my personal prejudices, I do think that Moose is a man with a better than average insight into the NFL. He seems very thoughtful and actually tries to base his opinion on facts and data. He was in town this week to attend Emmitt Smith's reunion of some of the players from the dynasty-starting 1992 Cowboys team. He talked about several things of interest to Dallas fans, and there are several interviews you might want to read, including one about the concussion lawsuits and another where he stresses that better medical care should be the focus for the players, not cash awards.
But with the excitement that is being felt about the new talent that was at the rookie minicamp, and the fact that this is really the first complete offseason for Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, I was most intrigued by an article where the subject was what Daryl sees when he looks at the Cowboys.
What he said about that after the jump.
One of the things he observed was that the Dallas dynasty of the nineties may be the last of its kind.
The salary cap and the off-season rules set forth by the most recent collective bargaining agreement make it difficult for any current team to reach the dominance of the Cowboys teams that won three Super Bowls in four seasons.
"I think they're on a slippery slope right now with all this talk about reducing the time in the off-season," said Johnston, who was attending Emmitt Smith's celebrity dinner to honor the 1992 Super Bowl champs. "That's when we got stronger. That's when we got in better shape. You saw last year, all the hamstring [injuries] with no work being done in the off-season. That wasn't a coincidence.
"You got to push and you got to work and you got to do things. I think the way the system's functioning today really challenges not only the Dallas Cowboys to be like our  team, but any team to be like a team from pre-1994."
The slippery slope comment really jumps out at me. He makes a very good point about how the reduction of offseason practices may be hurting the players that the new rules were meant to protect. Sometimes, more time off is not the best thing you can get.
He does feel that the team is headed in the right direction.
"It's just been a tough go for them," Johnston said. "They've got the talent. They've got the coaching. Everything's in place. They just got to keep working, stay focused."
He added: "I had them picked to win the East last year. I think they have themselves in a good position again this year. The Giants are the defending champions so you have to give them their respect as defending champions, but I think Dallas is a team with an offseason, with Mike Woicik, I think this is a team that's going to surprise some people this year."
And then he was asked for his evaluation of his former teammate Jason Garrett as the head coach. He "rattled off" the following things that he likes about JG.
1.) "His meticulous attention to detail."
2.) "He's been around great minds."
3.) "He's not afraid to go out and seek other people's opinions."
4.) "He has no ego."
5.) "He creates an environment where success is possible."
6.) "Guys want to play for him."
Finally, Johnston said: "There's certain things you can do as a coach because you've learned and there's certain things that you have to do because that's who you are as a person. You can't fake it. [Garrett's] got a lot of qualities that you would look for -- as a player -- to be in your head coach."
I like the list. It is one of those things where I read it and realize it articulates some of the things I feel, better than I have. Some of these things, like the attention to detail, are traits that Moose would have a much better feel for than most, having spent years on the team with Jason. The coaching pedigree is pretty well known, and I feel that the third and fourth points go hand in hand. I was a little taken aback at the idea of an NFL head coach having no ego - but it makes perfect sense when you look at the JG5000 persona. He does not want the spotlight. He just wants to win games, and this may make him the perfect head coach for Jerry Jones, who does have just the teeniest love of publicity himself.
And you all know the three letters that came to mind when I read those six points. R. K. G. Jason believes in himself and his approach to the game. All those high-character, high-motor guys he is seeking to play for him? He's looking for people that are like him. People that he knows how to relate to and motivate.
While I was finding the article for this post, I came across another that gives an example of how points 1, 3, and 5 come into play with the Cowboys. For those of you who watched the video feed from the war room during the draft, you remember how everyone was using iPads (some with more success than others). Well, that was just the beginning, as the team has officially announced that the playbook is now going digital.
They are among a handful of NFL teams that have begun the process of transferring the content of their six-inch-thick playbooks to iPads. In the coming weeks, when organized team activities begin, Cowboys officials said they plan to distribute the Apple-made tablet devices to each player on the roster after the team's staff used them during the draft and NFL combine for scouting purposes.
"The players today have grown up with all of this technology," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We're the ones, as coaches, who probably have to get more acclimated than they do."
They are using a product developed originally for the Baltimore Ravens. It was rolled out last year, and it is spreading.
So this looks like a detail oriented decision, one where he is basing it on other people's opinions (or, as I like to put it, stealing the good ideas). And it really fits the idea of creating an environment where people can succeed.
The program fuses print and video - allowing coaches to insert the schematic drawings of plays along with accompanying clips demonstrating how the plays should be properly executed.
For players who can't conceptualize the plan simply by reading pages filled with arrows, circles and letters, this technology creates a new avenue toward comprehension.
"To be able to see it and have that imagery of it, that just makes it easier to learn," said Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee. "I think guys will pick stuff up quicker. I think it's just another tool we can use to become better football players."
It should also ease the burden placed on coaches and their assistants. After all, Playbook is bundled with several subsidiary apps, including a calendar designed to help teams build a daily schedule and a quiz generator that allows players to be tested on the material they are taught.
It looks like Daryl has a pretty good take on his old buddy Jason. The man has a plan and exhibits the traits he needs to carry it out. The Process is alive and well - and it looks like it may be taking hold in 2012.