What Is The State Of The Cowboys?

Tom Pennington

In the becalmed days between minicamp and training camp, there is time to consider our favorite team and what shape they are in. It beats starting dumpster fires out of boredom and frustration.

Our umbrella blog organization, Sports Blog Nation, posed a bunch of questions about the offseason. These are things to keep our minds off the fact that there is still no football for weeks. Things to help us keep from staring into the horrid abyss of soul-draining boredom. Ways to avoid the black dog of depression dragging us down, down, into the despair that steals our very humanity.

Not that I mind this time of year much.

Anyway, one question that piqued my curiosity was this: "What's the state of your franchise right now: building, peaking, rebuilding, or totally confused?"

That's a good one. And, in typical fashion, I am leaning toward a "none of the above".

I think the Dallas Cowboys are about to launch. Like a rocket soaring on the Fourth of July.

OK, before you go down to the comments section and start questioning my ability to think coherently or accusing me of Kool Aid induced delusional fantasies, this is just my opinion. I am not going to build this on a bunch of statistics. It's really just a feeling I get. It is how I think all the bits and pieces about the team over the past six months fit together.

The major thing influencing my opinion has been the relative calm. The biggest problems this year were the first day of the draft and the "controversy" over who was calling the offensive plays. The first was, from the standpoint of the Dallas staff, at least, done with that day. Something was awkward in the draft room during the first round (my latest theory, which I dropped into a recent post, is that the first round pick is Jerry Jones' big thing, and he was involved in a bit of an override), but by day two things were moving along smoothly, and I would say fairly successfully. The other was not much of an issue at all, except for some people looking for something to write about the team. A decision was made back in January or so, and the coaching staff involved set about working it out.

Think about it. The team changed a big chunk of the coaching staff, and that in retrospect seems to have gone smooth as silk. Changing from the 3-4 to the 4-3 is being reported by everyone as a very problem-free process so far. When you think of big stories this offseason, that is almost an afterthought. Maybe it is the time passed, but now it seems almost like the simple and logical thing to do, at least to me.

Most of the starting lineup seems pretty predictable this year, with the notable exception of the offensive line. But even there, the team looked like it has a plan and some options to sort out to come up with a solution. There is just a sense that things are in control.

Part of it was the lack of bad news coming out of the minicamp. In 2012, it felt like the rookies were already turning into a train wreck. This year, outside of Joseph Randle's cast, everything went pretty well for all the new rookies, and last year's crop as well. There is no Mike Jenkins drama, Anthony Spencer's status is almost certainly settled, and everyone looks ready to hit it hard in Oxnard.

It does seem like the vaunted Process is finally taking hold. I want to say that the team is coiled up like a sprinter in the blocks, about to burst out and take this race. In the past few seasons, Dallas has become a much younger team, and young players have a tendency to improve dramatically the first few seasons. I think Jason Garrett is experiencing a similar thing.

But, as I said, this is more an overall sense of things, and not based on hard data. I just think the older stars are all still able, the young stars are still getting better, and the rest of the roster, the ones you have to depend on to show up at the office and do their jobs, are for the most part ready to go. A big thing for me is how the team was almost silent in free agency. All they really did was get Justin Durant to step in as a Sam linebacker (forced as much by the switch to the 4-3 as anything) and Will Allen as a "just-in-case" option at safety. That means the team felt pretty good about what else it has. That kind of confidence gives me confidence. You may disagree. You have every right to your opinion, no matter how wrong or pig-headed it is.

We won't know for sure, of course, until the New York Giants come to town, and even then it may be a few weeks before we have a complete picture of what the team is. But in just a little over two weeks, we will start to get those first reports from training camp.

I am expecting good things. This rocket is set up, and the countdown has begun. Time to launch.

More Cowboys Coverage

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