Its time once again for our bi-weekly edition of the highly anticipated BTB FanPost of the Week recognition extravaganza. This week, I'd like to concentrate on two themes: competition and community. What do I mean by this? Well, you'll have to read to the end to find out. I think it'll be worth the wait.
Okay, let's get going, shall we? In the fifteen months that Jason Garrett has been head coach, we have become accustomed to his various mantras - process, be great every day, right kind of guys, and make-up - and have seen these all implemented at some point during his tenure. Another of his favorite terms, competition throughout the roster, hasn't received quite as much play, largely (I believe) because the roster hasn't had enough good players for legitimate competition to take place. After an offseason in which the organization has brought in a slew of good, solid players, I'd expect this expression to start receiving heavier rotational play.
Let's take a look at the inside linebacker position for a moment. After struggling (and failing) for years to upgrade the depth at the position - which is the key to creating competition - the Dallas braintrust has suddenly done exactly that. Consider: in Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Dan Connor, they have three legit starting candidates competing for two positions. In Carter, Connor, Orie Lemon and Caleb McSurdy, they have four players competing for the three remaining ILB positions after Lee, who is certain to make the roster. In Lemon (who is reportedly much-improved) and McSurdy, they have two young, hungry guys - both of whom promise to be good-to-great special teams players - battling for the final spot.
In this example, we can see that competition at each layer of the roster creates constant upward pressure. Lemon and McSurdy will push Carter, who will push Connor, who will push Lee, who will push the rest of the defense. When a team can create a similar level of competition across the roster, it makes everybody - and every position group - better. And, although some soft spots can still be found on the Cowboys' depth chart, the 2012 edition appears to have more roster competition than the team has been able to boast since 2007 (or perhaps even since 1993).
Consider what our community of card-carrying Cowboys converts collectively communicates concerning competition... after the jump.
In the past two weeks, we have been treated to a series of excellent posts that engage with the notion of competition. The opening salvo was fired by Kegbearer, in a terrific post that our fearless leader quickly promoted to the front page. In his lead-in, Keg offered up the following:
This team is now competitive, not only on the field, but throughout the depth chart. One of the most exciting things about the 2012 Cowboys is all the competition that will be occurring at camp...In 2012, there will be young talented players competing throughout the entire roster, including for jobs among the starting line-up. It seems there isn't a single player that can't get better if the Garrett approach and the coaches do their job, and the players buy into the approach and process that Garrett seems sure to instill.
Like Keg, this excites me too - and its not limited to training camp and the 2012 season, but the next few years of the Garrett regime, as I think he'll work hard to create a deep (and insecure) roster.
Apparently, this excitement is contagious. Following Keg's post, zlegend36 proclaimed that competition is "just the thing we needed" and first-time FanPoster DCB* "absolutely" agreed. Not only did both of these fine gentlemen make it clear that competition is a good thing, they offered graphic versions of the upcoming roster battles to illustrate their claims. Legend breaks the roster down into position groups, showing each of the potential battles. For example, at defensive back, he offers up the following (starting positions in caps; backups in lower-case):
RCB) Morris Claiborne [vs] Mike Jenkins
LCB) Brandon Carr*
SCB) Orlando Scandrick [vs] Mike Jenkins
cb) Mario Butler [vs] Lionel Smith [vs] Isaac Madison
cb/fs) Akwasi Owusu-Ansah [vs] Justin Taplin-Ross
FS) Brodney Pool [vs] Matt Johnson
SS) Gerald Sensabaugh*
s) Barry Church [vs] Danny McCray [vs] Eddie Whitley
Very good stuff; it shows how competition at each roster level affects all the other levels.
DCB*, with O.C.C's help (honestly, what would we do without his cyborgian presence), takes this a step further, at least graphically, developing one of the coolest (pun intended) depth charts I've ever seen. On it, he shows the roster's entrenched starters and backups, leaving the unknowns blank, with the list of candidates for those unknown spots in a column off to the right. More than being merely cool, DCB*'s chart makes wonderfully clear what (and how much) the Cowboys coaching staff will have to sort out in training camp. And: for the first time in a long, long while, the lists of candidates at the various positions contain a preponderance of names that don't make me want to wince. Nice work, both of you!
And I don't believe we can limit the "nice work" tag to these two posters. I have long been impressed by the BTB community's depth of knowledge and ability to express that knowledge; in recent weeks, this admiration has grown. As a way to thank you for all your contributions and to highlight what makes BTB great, I have an unusual FPOTW winner. Like its topic (offensive simplicity and execution), this week's winning post (by one of our rising stars, IckesJb) is simply executed. But what it engendered is far from simple; read the post, but be sure to scroll down and read through the comments section.
There, you'll find a superb football discussion, by a group of BTB members who really know their stuff: Fan in Thick and Thin (where have you been, FiTT? I miss your football acumen!); Dr-P; the post's author, IckesJb; CoachGary; Kegbearer. And even RKO adds his valuable two cents worth. Often, I see BTB as a place where we gather in a virtual mancave, watching the Cowboys and talking football. Often, as I read through the comments sections, I think "I'd love to sit down with this guy over a beer and talk some Cowboys." And I have thought that about each of these guys at some point, so to have so many of those guys participating in one conversation made me wish we were all in the same place and I could have them (and ScarletO, and dunkman, and NYHorn, and, well, you get the picture) over for a cold one...
This time around, the FPOTW laurels go out to all of you, the entire BTB community, for investing so much of your time, energy and expertise in this little online project we call home. Kudos to all, and enjoy the long weekend!