In light of the moves this off season, it’s important to look back a few years to really understand the total lack of a plan that has come to define the Dallas Cowboys. It starts with knowing the Cowboys found a Hall of Fame quarterback killer in Demarcus Ware, a Hall of Fame tight end in Jason Witten in the third round, and a franchise quarterback as an undrafted free agent. These are the types of players you must have to win Championships. These are the types of players you must surround with depth and talent.
They rode those three players to the playoffs but could only win one game. Part of the problem was the cupcake, yes-man coach (Wade Philips) who followed Bill Parcels, but a bigger part of the problem was the foolish player personnel moves, moves we fans are paying for now. And we will continue to pay for those moves for years to come.
In fact, it’s hard to see a playoff game in the Dallas future right now. I’m not saying there isn’t ever going to be a playoff game, but certainly, right now, there is not one that anyone can realistically see.
Except Jerry Jones, of course. But as you can see below, Jerry Jones' vision will lead you into the desert in the dark with no flashlight.
The problems started when Jerry Jones overpaid guys like Marion Barber and Terrence Newman. It continued with all the draft choices Jones traded, the most egregious being the ones for Roy Williams. But the real crime was the draft itself. Everyone points to the 2009 draft, but look at the 2006 draft where the Cowboys blew it on their first round pick (Bobby Carpenter), then traded their second round pick (Anthony Fasano) for nothing. The next year, they got Anthony Spencer and little else. But 2008 was the dagger. Both of their first round draft choices were busts, although both had promise early on. Felix Jones quickly lost his electricity and Mike Jenkins lost his confidence. Their second round pick, Martellus Bennett teased but never really delivered. Those should have been cornerstone pieces to put around Ware, Romo and Witten.
Those draft choices didn’t need to be Hall of Famers but they should have been ten year starters, guys who earn a second contract. But they weren’t.
By 2010, the wheels came off when Tony Romo was injured. Looking back at that roster coming into the 2010 season, the cupboards look kind of bleak. I didn’t see it, I’ll admit. But you hire a GM specifically to look realistically at the talent and what is needed to win a Super Bowl.
The Cowboys had had a stifling defense in 2009 and won a playoff game that year. But looking at their roster coming into 2010, it’s now not hard to see that offensive line was a mess and so was their secondary. They had a promising rooking middle linebacker in Sean Lee, who was of course injured a good part of that year, but otherwise, their middle linebackers were old and slow. The result was a defensive disaster.
It was at this point, that the Cowboys should have blown things up. Maybe they could have landed first round draft picks or young talent for Ware and Witten and probably for Miles Austin, too. And who knows what they might have gotten for Tony Romo? I know it’s hard to make trades in the NFL but those are guys that lots of teams would have wanted in 2010.
But Jerry Jones thought the team was close and so signed guys like Ratlif to extensions and over-reached in the draft by trading his first and second to get a "lock down corner" in Morris Claiborne. Then they overpaid for a cornerback free agent.
On top of this the Cowboys shifted from the Wade Philips defensive model to the Ryan defensive model to Kiffen-Martinelli model. Nothing screams seat of the pants more than this defensive flip-flopping.
Now as we sit here coming off a season with the worst defense in Cowboys' history. And somehow, we all know that defensively things are going to get much, much worse in 2014. To be sure, we have a good offense but a Quarterback who either played hurt for more of the year than we know or a Quarterback who has lost his nerve for hanging in the pocket and making a miracle play. Tony Romo is coming off his second back injury and is $40m+ of dead money. Good luck with that, Jerry.
Right now, there is not a single position on the defense that isn’t a question mark. And there is little depth behind the starters. Maybe they will draft five Hall of Famer types and be the surprise of the NFL. Maybe guys will step up and take their games to a new level, but the more likely scenario is a defense that gives up 30+ points a game routinely and a team that wins five or six games next season. Of course, if Romo is hurt and misses very many games, the Cowboys could be at the top of the draft very quickly.
These are the wages of being a Cowboys fan in 2014 with an owner who is not a very good GM.