The Dallas Cowboys made more news than just their draft picks this weekend. Moving beyond Radio City Music Hall and back to Valley Ranch, owner Jerry Jones casually dropped a bombshell by revealing that Dallas is going old school. Bill Parcells - more than most coaches in the NFL - has a long held fascination with the TE position. On Saturday, he reminded everybody of that fact and drafted TE Anthony Fasano, then let Jerry announce the new offensive philosophy: Use 2 TE/2 WR/1 HB sets on any down and use it enough that Fasano will be considered a co-starter.
Jerry went as far as saying we'll probably keep 4 TE's and maybe no fullbacks. So how different is this from what Parcells already ran on offense? Dallas used 2 TE's often last year, and tried to use Dan Campbell in the H-back role. Even Witten did a few times. I guess Parcells was less than satisfied and let Campbell go for a new-model Mark Bavaro. Fasano is 6'5 and 255 lbs so should have no problem mixing it up with ends and linebackers from the line of scrimmage. But Fasano has to show good technique blocking out of the fullback spot for this to work fully. He'll do fine on the line and is a good underneath passing option. If he can show promise at H-back, then this offense can flourish.
Jason Witten is such a threat as a 3rd WR option that keeping 2 TE's on the field constantly is a doable proposition. Witten will be freed up from some blocking duties in this offense and can concentrate on being a receiver. But Fasano is the key, he has to be versatile, he's the offensive equivalent of Bobby Carpenter. He has to be enough of a pass threat to keep defenses honest. He'll have to help in pass and run blocking lined up on the line of scrimmage. Finally, he'll need to handle the duties of a fullback part of the game.
Jerry Jones also said an interesting thing about the defense, something that should make (most) Cowboys fans happy. Jones said that the 3-4 defense will be here long-term in Dallas, beyond the Parcells era. If you're a fan of the 3-4 like I am, this is music to your ears. If you're a fan of the 4-3, it may not sound so good. But the Cowboys are on the verge of having a dominating defense, a young defense that should be together for awhile. If we abandoned the 3-4 after Parcells left we would have to rebuild the defense in the 4-3 mold. That would cost us on the field in the next few years, and no Cowboy fan wants that.
It also shapes the field of candidates for the successor to Parcells. You'd need a guy who wants to play the 3-4. My guess is the Parcells family coaching tree would having plenty of potential candidates. Jones could also look within the organization, with DC Mike Zimmer and passing coordinator Chris Palmer being the obvious candidates.
Other news from the weekend included a little bit of rumor that has been lost in the noise. Reports on Saturday morning had the Cowboys eyeing RB Laurence Maroney in the draft and trying to trade RB Julius Jones. The New York Daily News went so far as to say the Jets and Cowboys had discussed how to make a trade work. Obviously nothing happened but it did raise the question of how much Parcells trusts JJ to stay healthy.
We learned that 6th round pick Montavious Stanley is going to be one heck of an interview. This kid stole the show on the Cowboys radio coverage with his enthusiasm and humor. I think Parcells is going to love this guy - I'll make a prediction - if this kid turns out to be a player, he'll be one of the last of the "Parcells Guys".
Finally, in the Bobby Carpenter/Manny Lawson debate, one factor may have tipped the scales. Scouts reported that Carpenter did a better job of delivering water to a coach. Lawson was timed as faster, but Carpenter spilled less water and put ice cubes in it first. BTB digs deep to get all the facts.