Last week, I took a look at whether or not Jason Garrett even deserved this year based off of his past in The Case Against Garrett. I started with his time as OC and interim head coach. Now, I will focus on Jason's 2 years as the leader of our beloved franchise.
During his first offseason as HC, Jason began to re-shape the offensive line, chose to continue on as the playcaller for the offense, and hired Rob Ryan as Defensive Coordinator. While we can focus on a myriad of things, for this short article, let's take a look at those 3 things because those 3 things should fall squarely of the shoulders of the HC and OC. Now, I understand this is THE Dallas Cowboys and so you never know where Jerry Jones got involved more than needed and tied Jason's hands. So I understand it might be difficult to assign all the blame to him for personnel moves, but he is not absolved because he is supposed to have Jerry's trust and Stephen's ear.
First, the reshaping of the offensive line. Garrett sought after a younger and more mobile offensive line. So with that in mind, the franchise released Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, Marc Columbo, and Kyle Kosier before the 1st game of Jason's tenure. Now that would have been fine if there had been some foresight as to who in the world was going to take their place. I am not gauging whether or not those 4 players deserved to be released... the argument is that there was not a plan in place (that worked, at least) to cement this unit. Jason and the Front Office (FO) obviously decided to address the OL through the draft. They used 3 picks to shore up the unit: Tyrone Smith, David Arkin, and Bill Nagy. They even brought in Kevin Kowalski to help with depth. I'm going to leave Smith, Nagy, and Kowalksi alone, because of where they were drafted or in Kowalski's case-- since they were not drafted. Now Arkin on the other hand...
I can't have been the only fan that groaned when Arkin's name was called in the 4th. The guy's scouting report was that he was not strong enough at the point of attack-- IN COLLEGE! What did Jason think he was going to be able to say to him to make him magically stronger? Did Jason believe the whole Popeye thing and spinach? Nope! Jason told us that it was not about size in the trenches. Jason went on and on about how that old line was big and slow and a new mobile line would be much better in space. Garrett raved about how all 3 of the new OL rookies were drafted with that type of offensive philosophy in mind. He spoke about a new mobile line would allow more creative playcalling. Ah, the space concept. I actually I'm a huge fan of the space concept... you know, sweeps, Power O, RB and WR screens sprinkled in to give your OL a break and give them a chance to move and get out in the open field and find a little CB or unsuspecting LB to mow down. See your lineman don't have to be big and strong if you run enough of these plays because they make defensive lineman think. Now, when is the last time you heard a defensive lineman say that if he had not made it in the NFL, he was going to be a doctor? No slight to brilliant defensive lineman everywhere but these guys are more Hercules and less Socrates if you will. They want to play down hill and if they're 2-gappers, they sure as heck don't want to go running down the line after being fooled by a RB screen. Enough screens and sweeps thrown at them, will make them hesitant and then that is when you can have guys like Smith, Arkin and Nagy run plays right at them. But your offensive playcalling has to make the Defensive Lineman think about chasing sideways almost every play (more on that later!) so smaller guys can get into their chest and control them before the big 'uns have a chance to use their brute force.
Problem is, I have not seen this offense do any of that. Furthermore, we are still waiting right now to find out if Callahan is going to be asked to run a zone or man blocking scheme concept. Whichever one you run is ok... they both work as long as you have lineman that are built to execute that system. But what happens when you don't know what system you are running? 8-8 and yo QB getting cracked ribs. Either way, Garrett went about telling us one of his first orders was to retool the OL. Do you feel like you are getting better OL play than you got in 2010? I don't. He said this was one of his 1st priorities. I will say again: Smith, Arkin, Nagy, and Kowalski. I know what you're thinking... "that was young Jason's 1st draft and you're not being fair, we need to take a look at the 2012 draft and 2012 as well to have an honest conversation about the OL!" O.K.
|3||81||Tyrone Crawford||DE||Boise State|
|4||113||Kyle Wilber||LB||Wake Forest|
|135[a]||Matt Johnson||S||Eastern Washington|
|5||152||Danny Coale||WR||Virginia Tech|
Which one of those guys could play OL? Maybe Crawford-- but he don't PLAY Offensive LINE!!
I'm not even going to mention the stiffs we got from Cincy and Panthers last year. Let's put them on Jerry! But what we have to say is that while we certainly got younger on the OL, we didn't get better and this was one of Garrett's first tenets to restructure.
Let's call this STRIKE ONE!
(More to follow this weekend)