FanPost

Garrett needs to finish what he started last season

The bloodletting was fast and furious when the lockout ended last season. Players that had played several seasons for the Cowboys were released well before the 2011 season began: Leonard Davis (4), Marc Colombo (6), Andre Gurode (9), Igor Olshansky (2), Roy Williams (2.5), and Marion Barber III (6) were among those to leave before the start of the 2011 regular season.

Some of the players that will not have the privilege to be part of the 2012 Dallas Cowboys include Terence Newman (9), Alan Ball (5), Keith Brooking (3), Bradie James (9), Martellus Bennett (4), Tashard Choice (3.5), Montrae Holland (4), and Kyle Kosier (6). In total, players with 73 seasons of service wearing the star are no longer on the roster.

Coaches have not been immune to the changes. Ray Sherman (WR), Hudson Houck (OL), Paul Pasqualoni (DL), Reggie Herring (LB), Dave Campo (DB), and Joe Juraszek (Strength) are among the coaches that are no longer with the Cowboys since the end of the 2010 season.

Jason Garrett has 25 players currently on the roster that were with Dallas on week 1 of the 2010 season. That total will drop if players such as Marcus Spears (7) and Stephen McGee (3) fail to make the cut to 53 this week.

Regardless, less than half of the roster is still with the Cowboys since the red dawn of the Garrett era. Even a fewer percentage of position coaches are still on the staff.

Undoubtedly, these changes have resulted in a much younger team. It could be argued that these moves have facilitated a change in the competitive culture for Jason Garrett. Perhaps the makeover has also fostered an environment conducive to learning and development.

Why would anyone imply that?

Look at several position groups and players for evidence that the changes are working quickly. Study the wide receiver position group:

Player

Receptions

Yards

Touchdowns

Targets

Dwayne Harris

8

172

3

10

Kevin Ogletree

10

147

0

12

Cole Beasley

10

144

0

13

Danny Coale

1

8

0

2

Andre Holmes

6

58

0

10

Granted that these numbers were accumulated in the preseason against vanilla defensive schemes and players that may not be on any NFL rosters next week, but the top three receivers offer the possibility that the Cowboys may have a deep wide receiver group this season. Compare the numbers of Ogletree and Harris to how they played during the first three preseason games in 2011:

Player

Receptions

Yards

Touchdowns

Targets

Dwayne Harris

5

127

2

6

Kevin Ogletree

7

71

0

14

Dwayne had a breakout game in the Cowboys' first preseason game against the Denver Tebows. After that game he was targeted exactly one (1) time in the next two games against San Diego and Minnesota. Ogletree caught as many passes in the first three 2011 preseason games, as he missed (of those throws targeted to him), and averaged just barely over 10 yards a catch.

That is quite a turnaround, and lends belief that to the fact that Dallas may have as deep a wide receiver corp as...Green Bay.

Speaking of the Packers, not coincidently, the new wide receivers coach for the Cowboys was in Green Bay in 2010. He was brought in last offseason and had a full off season to teach his receivers. The results seem to be positive.

In contrast to the Packers secondary, the Cowboys defensive backs have been outstanding this preseason. In 2011, only Gerald Sensabaugh recorded an interception through the first three preseason games. Mario Butler, AOA, and Church each had a pass defensed through three 2011 preseason games.

Sensabaugh has another interception this preseason, but so does Mana Silva and Brandon Carr (who has two). Claiborne, AOA, and Silva each have one more pass defensed, bringing the preseason total for 2012 to 8 (in 2011, Dallas had 4). Obviously, the Cowboys defensive secondary has four times the interceptions than last year through three preseason games.

But specific players are also flashing with better play this preseason. As mentioned, Kevin Ogletree is looking much better this preseason than in the past. Orlando Scandrick's play this preseason has also been much better than last year. Both players have new position coaches, and their respective play has improved.

Now the Cowboys have final cuts coming up. Jason needs to make room for the next generation of players that can develop under the new coaches. Veterans that have shown their upside, like Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears, Stephen McGee, Derrick Dockery, and Daniel Loper, will be perilously close to being left off of the roster. Youngsters that have not demonstrated enough to warrant a roster spot despite the opportunities to do so, such as Andre Holmes, Clifton Geathers, and Teddy Williams, should also be wary of being released.

Jerry Jones has noted that this team is built for winning now. That should not preclude the Cowboys from building for the future as well.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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