One of many mantras we have adopted from Jason Garrett is the notion of competition throughout the roster, at every layer: guys battling for special teams positions; special teamers fighting for backup spots, backups competing for starting positions, starters working their tails off to keep their coveted spots. Such competition creates constant upward pressure, and makes every player feel that he has earned his spot not because of salary or draft position but because he beat out the rest of the hungry guys who tried (and will continue to try) to take it away from him. By extension, this creates a roster full of players who survive this crucible - which would tend to favor not only the most talented by the hardest working players.
Here at BTB, our general manager, the illustrious Dave, has assembled a similarly deep and competitive rostrum. Sure, O.C.C. is a first-ballot Hall of Famer; KD has collected more than his share of All-Pro nods; Tom is talked about in any conversation about the top five guys at his position; and Archie and Coty just made several "top bloggers under the age of 30" lists. But we don't subscribe to the Wade Phillips "stars and scrubs" mentality here, no siree. This community has depth. After the front pagers, perhaps pushing for their jobs, we have a passel of talented writers who would make Garrett proud: they just keep stacking great posts one after the other, getting better every day.
So, as we prepare for training camp, who might be some promising young FanPosters who we should keep our eyes on? In this scout's opinion, there are many (I told you this roster was loaded!). But there are a few guys who have made the biggest splash in recent weeks by performing very well in OBAs (Organized Blogging Activities). Some of these gents are savvy vets (Specific, Blue-Eyed Devil, NY Horn); some are guys who made the roster last year (IckesJb); others are relative newcomers who seem unfazed by the speed of the pro game (Hawkeye, AntonioNickerson). All are working to make the BTB roster the deepest in SBNation.
Wanna see tape of our top FanPosters in action? Make the jump and prepare to be amazed!
This week, I'm not going to decide who our top FanPoster is. Rather, I'm going to lay out the evidence for each of several candidates and let you, the readers, develop a FanPost depth chart. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
1. AntonioNickerson: perhaps because Mr. Nickerson has had success in other leagues (he ran a Cowboys blog before joining us at BTB), he hasn't been slowed one bit by the transition to The Show. In the past fortnight, Tone has gone beast, writing a slew of superb posts. Check out his recent oeuvre: a detailed look at safety play; a shrewd analysis of second-year, second-round linebackers; a wonderful take on the big plays in the running game in 2012; a set of highlights (that he assembled) on UDFA safety Eddie Whitley; a look at all 36 times Tony Romo was sacked last season. Whew! Based solely on production, this guy would be the starter. Go check out his stuff, people!
2. Blue Eyed Devil: A veteran of the trenches, BED offered us another installment in his very fine "supremacy" series, this one on the Cowboys braintrust taking the long view. He focuses specifically on the decisions to keep, rather than trade, Mike Jenkins, Anthony Spencer, and Felix Jones. As always, the Blue-Eyed one is knowledgeable and insightful--and you will be, too, if you read his stuff. So, read it!
3. IckesJb: A relative greenhorn, he made quite a splash earlier this offseason, and seems to be avoiding the traditional rookie slump, as he's continued to make big plays throughout OBAs. Like fellow newcomer Nickerson, the Ickster has penned multiple posts in the recent past. He started us off with another installment of his terrific "X' and O's" series, this one on the zone blitz. Four days later, he followed that up with a shrewd take on the modern NFL: this is a year-by-year venture and, three days after that, another Xs and Os look at a Tony Romo to Laurent Robinson TD against the Bills last season. As always, Ick's posts are a coaching clinic. Wanna get smarter about the game? Then go here and read the entire Ickian canon.
4. Hawkeye101: Another newcomer who's distinguished himself, Hawk (whose avatar is MASH's Hawkeye Pierce even though he hails from Radar O'Reilly's hometown of Attumwa, Iowa) started us off with a great tongue-in-cheek piece on Cowboys stories from an "alternative reality" Bizarro world. He then took us in a wildly different direction, with a sentimental stroll down memory lane, and his idea of the "glory days." Hint: they involved Roger Staubach to Preston Pearson. Check this kid out; I think he's got a real contribution to make to our team.
5. NYHorn: Another cagey veteran presence who has seen it all. With all the competition in camp, he clearly needed to show the young-uns that he still had some tricks up his sleeve, doing so with a terrific effort, a rumination upon the "big picture." The issue at hand for Horn is the eternal question attendant upon the quarterback position: does a team need a great quarterback to win or does a winning team help make a quarterback great? I'm not gonna give away his answer, but I will strongly encourage you to read his post. Already did? Well, read it again!
6. Specific: This wily vet didn't make a lot of plays during OBAs, but those he did make showed that he's still one of the team's most talented players. This time around, he penned a terrific post lauding the Cowboys for their patience this offseason. In spite of Jerry Jones' pronouncements that the window is closing, Jason Garrett and Co.'s methodical behavior suggests they're not going to panic and make any knee-jerk decisions. But Specific lays it out much better than I can. Go, read his post. It's great stuff.
Okay, BTBers: it's time to formulate a depth chart. Go, and read ALL the posts and then let us know: who should be our starter? The key back-up? The change-of-pace guy? Hit the comments section and let 'er rip!