That number does NOT stand for "One Player Away"
One of the burdens of being a Dallas Cowboys fan is that you constantly find yourself bombarded by long-running, usually outdated, inaccurate memes. A few:
- "Jerry Jones makes all the draft/free agent decisions himself."
- "This team just feels entitled."
- "Dallas always loses despite having such great talent."
- "The Cowboys cannot win with Tony Romo at quarterback."
- "The team clearly thought they were one player away last year."
It was that last one that got me going this time. Where in the world do people come up with these things? I feel like they don't actually look at what the team has done, or listen to what Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, or Stephen Jones actually say.
It was a bit ironic that the article that set me off was this related one that actually took a very optimistic view of the Cowboys and what they have accomplished this offseason. I followed the link back to this article at NFL.com on what the draft said about the Cowboys. And there it was.
The Cowboys behaved like a team that thinks it is one player away from a championship.
No. No, they did not.
Why I take such umbrage after the jump.
Look no further than the free agency signings to find out how many players the Cowboys thought they were away from a championship, or even the playoffs. In advance, the team had made it clear that they were going to use free agency to try and fix the most glaring problems. So here are the players that I think they felt they were "away" by.
- At least 1 cornerback. Brandon Carr was one of the top free agents available, and the number one target for the team. But, as the frenetic activity of those few days showed, he was not the only one.
- 1 safety. Brodney Pool is not a superstar. But I think he clearly indicated that the team was very concerned about both levels of the secondary.
- 2 guards. Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings were brought in to make sure that this area would improve. I think the team feels it had some talent already on the roster - but they could not put all their faith in the Yuglies, and they knew that they draft could not be a guaranteed answer.
- 1 fullback. I am convinced that Jason Garrett is determined to have a more effective running game. He needs it to balance his attack, and it makes the passing attack more effective by forcing the opponents to respect the run, giving Romo more time for plays to develop. With the issues Tony Fiammetta had in staying on the field, Lawrence Vickers was brought in to help make DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones the kinds of weapons the team needs. And also to score a few more touchdowns on the ground.
- At least 1 inside linebacker. We all hope Bruce Carter is another injured-second-round-linebacker-blossoming-in-his-second-season like Sean Lee, but Dan Connor is a way to greatly increase the chance of improved play here.
That is six of the seven players picked up in free agency that were signed to be starters. Only Kyle Orton was brought in with the intent of him being a backup. So the team clearly saw itself as six players away, at least as logically as I can work it out.
But perhaps the argument can be made that the approach the team took in the draft shows that the team thought it was one player away after taking the free agents into account. Well, I still beg to differ. I see the draft as reflecting that the team still saw some gaps.
- I think the issues with Mike Jenkins, namely that he has apparently requested to be traded, perhaps made the team realize that they were now 2 cornerbacks away. Morris Claiborne of course took care of that. But I think what he really was, was such a great defensive player that the team could not see another move that would do it as much good.
- They still needed more push up the middle defensively. Tyrone Crawford was selected in the third round to provide that. The third round is not too late in the draft to get a player that can contribute almost immediately, even if not as a starter.
- They needed another edge rusher. After the third round, the chance of finding someone to provide immediate help diminishes rapidly, but Kyle Wilber was picked to buttress this part of the team. And Adrian Hamilton shows that they are hedging their bets there.
I think this shows that there were at least three more players the team believed it needed to make it to the playoffs and then make a run. That is nine positions that I feel the team believed were standing between it and success at the end of the 2011 season.
I will admit I do not know what is in the minds of Jason Garrett and the Jones family. But judging by their actions, I think this is pretty close.
I also want to give a tip of the old hat to IckesJb. This started as an endorsement of a comment he made, but I realized that 800 words was a bit much for a thread. Especially since I have access to the front page. And while I am at it, I appreciate all the thoughtful, intelligent posters who join in the discussions. I get so many good ideas from you. Hope you don't mind.