Situation - over the last 4 years ----
Aging Qb - still better than anyone you could pick up or even draft - unless you had a Houston Texans season. Presumed time to be still effective - 2 - 4 years. Still have not drafted a QB for future - but hopefully still time. Draft one in next year or two.
OL - Needed a massive turnaround in talent to protect an aging but still effective QB. They need time playing together so that they can jell and protect whatever new QB comes into play replacing Tony somewhere down the road. OL play for the longest time of all the positions, and need to play as a unit - developing over time. Primary building block of team. Not done, but getting there.
RB - need 2 or three young running backs with various skill sets, including elusive, durable, speedy, good in protection for QB, and with good hands to catch swing passes or on dump off plays. Not all of them have all these qualities, but need to have most of them - including durable ! Moving in that direction.
WR - for today’s defenses, need mostly tall, strong, good hands, run good routes, and fast receivers - not excluding some shifty, elusive, great hands chainmovers. Versatility is important. Like the new crop of receivers - hopefully 2 will develop further.
TE - need tall, strong, decent blocking, great hands as a always available safety valve. Speed is great, but hands and dependability are crucial. Escobar can develop these qualities. Witten is older, but still HOFer.
FG - P - LS - in good shape now - always looking for the future.
SS FS - have not had a dynamic duo backing up defense in years. Still searching for a true FS - and developing our SS’s . Church is a good SS. However, haven’t seen if this is the Chinese Year of the Unicorn - but hopefully either Johnson or JJ Wilcox will run away with the FS job. Other safeties need to add flexibility and provide special teams flexibility. Best crop we’ve seen in several years. Most of them young.
LB’s - need this position to be young, fast, decisive, and correct. Lee is superb - when’s he’s on the field. Carter is fine - and then not fine. 2 years ago he was fabulous at times - last year, not so much. Wilbur, Holloman, Wilson - and the new rookies - especially Hitchens - have the ability to make this one of the youngest and strongest positions on the team. They will contribute to special teams as well. They are young - and will improve.
CB’s - Teams need at least 3 good safeties, and in the past have had only 1 or 2. Injuries, unfamiliarity with system, not fitting the scheme, and mental mistakes consumed us last year - and for several years before. Despite paying a high price for a free agent, and moving up to draft a best defensive player in the draft, we are getting poor results. Scandrick is a standout, and hopefully the other CB’s play up more to their assumed capabilities. We did pick up some quality rookies - drafted and UDFA’s - and hope we can come up with an Everson Walls in the bunch. Unless Christmas comes early this year, we will need to readdress this issue early next year.
DL - The crux of the matter. From what was once a position of ultimate strength for the Cowboys, we slowly stagnated into a morass of bodies - a dearth of talent, frequently injured, or having "issues" with our team. That comes along with an aging DL. I can not count the games last year that I started counting on the opposing QB’s snap, and there were "NO" Cowboys DL within 10 feet of him for 5 -10 seconds. That makes it MUCH harder on the entire defense.
Having played both OL and DL in school, I know that DL demands much more effort and energy from a player than any other "uglies" positions. There are times you just need to "catch a blow". Particularly with our recent offensive strategy on the Cowboys of "3 and out". DL’s need to be younger than OL’s on average, so that they have more energy to spare for the hurry up offenses of our opponents. Having 2 waves of DL’s is optimal, so that they have the energy to really earn the title of "Rushmen". Disrupting the QB means you have to get past at least 1 OL (maybe 2 or 3) who are just trying to stay in place - or giving ground grudgingly. Then if you get past them, you have to make a charge at the QB - Who has taken lessons from Spanish Matadors, and just steps aside easily as you whoosh past him. Been there, done that, own the record ……
Last year we went into Camp thinking (JJ) we were well set, but acknowledged that we were aging - and then we got hit with rashes of injuries. Those happen, but they happen more easily to older, less skilled, less knowledgeable players- and those just beginning to play in the nfl - more frequently. It seems whenever one injury affects a position on a team, that it has a snowball effect on the entire position. With this situation, we now find ourselves in a major panic crunch for DL.
We were able to get a FA 3 position DT for a reasonable first year salary - albeit coming off injury. Got several hopefully serviceable players also in Free Agency. Will have several promising players coming back from injuries last year. Let go some players that we think will not be here to help us out in the near future who were very expensive. Gave up a 3rd round pick to move up in the 2nd and select a RDE - who has the potential to be very disruptive. Drafted 2 7th rounders who have possibilities - Gardner and Bishop - and got some good UDFA’s as well - Whaley & Coleman notably. There will be disappointments, but hopefully there will be keepers as well.
Since DL is the area where we need our most attention, we will be sure to address this issue first thing in the future - as well as at CB. I’m assuming that the safety position finally irons itself out. (Crossed fingers !) In the future we will need to continually monitor the ages, contracts, and contributions of our DL - as this is where we need to be YOUNG - STRONG - FAST - MULTIPLE ( 8 strong) - and replenishing the larder yearly !
DL - first priority next year
CB - next priority
Whatever position comes up short this year - 3rd priority
Fill in as BPA - Position needed - OL, Safety, Linebacker, WR, ??
Is this the scenario that JJ SJ and Jason Garrett have mapped out this year - and our future Cowboy Teams? If it is, I agree with it, and even with our tougher schedule this year, am on the Garrett Train - even if we’re 7-9 this year ! ( But I predict that we’re 9-7 + this year - nothing too unrealistic !)