Its Tuesday, which means that its once again time to dole out recognition to those BTB members who have graced us with their wit and wisdom in the past two weeks. Yes, I'm referring to our weekly FanPost awards extravaganza, which has moved to an every-other-week affair during the offseason. Although less frequent, its remains every bit as potent, with an impressive lineup of FanPosters richly deserving of our collective praise. So, without further ado, lets get on to our meritorious members.
Perhaps not surprisingly, all the recognized posts engage with issues that have been circulating in the forefront of my imagination of late. In the days after the draft, I penned a draft-review post in which I speculated that the offensive players Dallas acquired might indicate the kind of scheme Jason Garrett wants to run in 2011 and beyond: a wide-open system that puts tremendous pressure on defenses--especially on the perimeter, where nimble o-linemen pull or easily get downfield on screens, and fleet running backs like Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray get to the edge, run in open space, and catch the ball like wide receivers.
Read about this week's top posts after the jump...
In two excellent recent posts, the statistically savvy Fan in Thick and Thin has offered sound numerical substantiation of my vague speculations. In the first of these, a draft review of his own, he cites Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats fame, who advises:
If I were advising a general manager, I’d tell him to largely forget about the run. Get a running back who’s good at picking up blitzes or catching the ball. Never draft a running back in the first few rounds, and whatever you do, don’t waste precious cap space (or payroll budget) on him.
Get a quality QB at all costs. Assess your linemen on how well they pass-block, and don’t worry as much about their run blocking. Get lots of pass rushers on defense. Got a LB that’s a great run stopper but can’t play coverage? Trade him to some sucker team that cares that they only give up 3.8 yards per carry rather than 4.2 yards per carry. That’s how you build a perennial playoff contender.
According to Thick, the Cowboys followed this strategy to a "T." Without saying so specifically, Thick (via Burke) suggests that the Cowboys offense will be more productive because it will pass the ball more effectively. To allay any doubts, he offers up a second post, in which he reminds us that a significant aspect of Felix's yardage came in the passing game and proposes that Garrett will find Murray offers similar production. Take a moment to check out Thick's great work!
Our next honoree, the esteemed Chandus, also takes a long, interesting look at the Cowboys' draft. Because, as he freely confesses, Chandus knew little about Dallas' second and third rounder selections, he embarked upon a fairly extensive film study, coming away with some interesting assessment categories. My favorite one was "reminds me of," a delineation of each player's ceiling (Bruce Carter: Keith Bullock) and likely level of play (Kevin Burnett). Most importantly, he speculates about whether--and to what degree--Carter and Murray will "fit" into Dallas' various schemes, offering BTB members the opportunity to weigh in on what degree these guys are square pegs in round holes." Go here to read what Chandus has to say--and don't forget to vote in the poll at the bottom of the post!
Another topic of interest to yours truly has been Jason Garrett, specifically the degree to which he has instituted a necessary culture change at Valley Ranch. The draft gave us another opportunity to evaluate this from scant evidence, so of course many of us leaped into the interpretive fray. My own halting contribution to this conversation followed up on a pre-draft series in which I offered that, if the Cowboys drafted guys likely to help them more in the future than in 2011, it would serve as evidence that Garrett had control of the Dallas warroom. My conclusion was that, especially with the selection of Bruce Carter, we can see the results of long-term thinking--and thus evidence that the RHG holds some sway.
Which brings me to this week's winner: 5Blings. In a FanPost entitled "A New Sheriff in Town," Blings takes a long hard look at the numerous aspects of the Cowboys recent history and team culture that Garrett will have to contend with as he works to restore the luster to the star. Some of these are obvious (the Jones family), others less so--and those tend to be really shrewd: Blings has terrific takes on "the aftereffects of T.O."; "the 4-year itch"; and "the Halo effect," among others. I found all of this fascinating, but what really got me was his conclusion:
All in all, we're just starting to turn the first few pages of the proverbial book that will ultimately be written about Jason Garrett's time as Head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. While I tend to be a bit more measured in my enthusiasm over such changes (that's the 4-Year Itch thing at play), I feel like Garrett gives us an interesting opportunity. He talks about being in the moment, taking pride in what you do and in focusing on getting better every single day. While it's far too early to gauge his coaching talent, he is cerebral and focused and hard working...and if a football team ever needed traits from a role model as Head Coach, those are the traits I would have asked the coach to have for this team. Garrett's story, to this point, is one of overcoming obstacles to reach his goals. Let's hope he continues to do that and, even more, can get his team to do the same.
I'm not sure I've seen a better, more succinct summation of Garrett, what he's accomplished thus far, and what he still has on the horizon. Go here to read every delicious word.
And drop into the comments section to offer Blings your congratulations--and to give a little Interwebs high-five to Thick and Chandus for their sterling contributions as well.