In my professional life I spent most of my early career in a start-up or restructuring situations. I suppose that has formed the basis on many of the opinions that I have and how I formulate my decisions. I have a tendency to look for "linchpins". Viable solutions that quickly solve problems while providing a sustainable methodology to achieve and maintain success. I think more in the reasonable and realistic, while avoiding the far-fetched and the reaching. My longer term goal is to turn as many variables I can into constants, because uncertainty leads to mixed results. In other words, I approach most things as a "process". I prefer to use the word "methodology", but "process" works, too. It's a mindset of breaking things down to the mechanics, perpetuate the strengths where they exist and "fixing" the parts that work inefficiently. It's not rocket science, but it takes some discipline to "prioritize" the significant over the minutia. In other words, worry about "big stuff" before you devote your resources to the "little stuff". The Big stuff being those things that contribute the most benefit to your goals.
Here's my take on top 3 "issues" for the Cowboys...
We can't keep our best players on the field, and the problem is getting worse. It's hit a low point in the past 2 seasons but it's cropped it's ugly head throughout the past 5-6 years. It's gotten so bad that it has not only affected our best players, it's decimating our depth in select position groups. I hear the talk that we need to draft "injury proof" players, and that is something we need to factor in to our player acquisition, but let's not overlook the most direct way to fix this issue. We need a better training plan. The training staff needs to upgrade how they prepare our players for a long season. Nutrition, Scheduling, Therapy, and Lifting/Calisthenic/Stretching programs need to be reviewed and updated. This should be an easy fix. You can throw as much money at this as you want. The technology is not proprietary, so one team doesn't have an advantage over the next. You simply have to devise a cohesive plan and throw resources at it. Why aren't the Cowboys hiring multiple outside "advisers" to audit our training plan and suggest improvements. No cap restraints here...
2) Inefficient Resource Allocation.
Resources are not infinite. We have inefficiencies in the use of our financial and drafting resources. I think we have made strides in this department. Financially, we are clearly more selective/frugal in our new contracts and have made a concerted effort to clean up overpriced ones this past off season. The goal seems to be to build through the draft and supplement sparingly through free agency. The cap situation looks to be improving and thus our cap "utility" will be improved, which should add to the depth (less "dead" cap money means more "real" money we can use on actual players) of our team if maintained. In regards to Drafting, we can't have the 'error" of last year crop up again. Sharrif Floyd should have never been so high on our draft board and that should have been ironed out weeks before draft day. Coaches don't run the draft, scouts do, but they don't do it in a vacuum. We got lucky with the trade down last year, and I'd like to avoid this type of drafting policy. This is why McClay was promoted and is charge of the draft board this year. His goal is to communicate and get everyone on the same page before the draft. Something that doesn't get talked about much, but I think is very important, is that there is a better connection between pro-scouting and college scouting. In the past it seemed to me that these departments operated separately from each other and there was a disconnect. Clearly you still have scouts responsible for their respective expertise, but you needed someone above to take a macro view of player acquisition. Knowing what players are available at the pro level (on the street, on practice squads, and available in next years free agency) makes for a more informed plan to draft college players. Case in point, we drafted Murray in 2011, when most fans were happy with our RB tandem of FJones and Tashard. We knew then that we didn't want to give a second contract to either of these players and planned accordingly. The Escobar pick was with an eye to Witten in 2015/2016. Always have an exit strategy. Plan for the now and also plan for the near future. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Can't quantify, but it does exist. Name it random variables if that makes it more palatable. Weird stuff that happens that affects game outcomes. It seems to me that the Cowboys are a bit "snakebit". We get some weird stuff happening to us. Like when Tyron stepped on Tony's foot before he threw that interception in the Broncos game. Other teams getting great bounces on us...Saints game in 2012 when Marques Colston fumbled forward 23 yards to be recovered by Graham in OT. It seems to me that we get more than our fair share of these occurrences in the past few years.
I think these 3 reasons are the biggest reason we've missed the playoffs the past 3 years.
I may be in the minority, but I'm one of those fans that think the Cowboys can actually make some noise of they can improve "slightly" in the 3 issues I've listed. We've been building this current team since 2010, and I think the Cowboys are on the cusp on truly being competitive, again. Not just 1-2 game flashes. I think this team has more depth that many give them credit for...with the exception of the lines. I'd like a little more O Line depth, but I like our front line squad. The D Line deficiencies are obvious. We just lost Ware, Ratliff, Hatcher, and Spencer from our expected starting line of 2013. Our 2014 success hinges on whether the FO has assemble a "competent" D Line, but many of the pieces are there. If you compare our roster to our NFCE rivals, you may feel better about where we stand.