On November 8, 2010, Jerry Jones fired Wade Phillips and announced Jason Garrett as the interim head coach. Most Cowboys fans remember that day pretty well; most Cowboys players don't.
If you look at the starters in Garrett's first game as interim head coach, the 33-20 win over the Giants at the Meadowlands on November 14, only three of that day's 22 starters are still with the team: Jason Witten, Doug Free, and Anthony Spencer.
Of course, Tony Romo is still on the team as well, along with a few other players, but Romo was inactive for that game with a broken clavicle, and other players were also either inactive or were backup players at the time. In total, only 10 players remain on today's roster from the time Jason Garrett took over from Wade Phillips as interim head coach three and a half seasons ago.
Here's an overview of which players from mid-2010 are still with the team, and what role they played in Garrett's first game:
|Wide Receiver||Dez Bryant|
|Tight End||Jason Witten|
|Offensive Line||Doug Free||Jermey Parnell|
Assuming all ten players on this list make the final 53-man roster this year (and that is by no means a given), that means that the other 43 players will all be Garrett's guys. The Cowboys have undergone some significant player personnel changes since Garrett took over as head coach. Some might call this a rebuilding effort, though Jerry Jones made it clear that he does not subscribe to the notion that the Cowboys are rebuilding.
"Not at all," he said. "Not at all. You don’t rebuild with Tony Romo."
"The firepower we have on offense and where we are with our running backs, and our receivers…you don’t rebuild with an offense that’s got the capability we’ve got. We didn’t bring (Scott) Linehan in here to rebuild."
"We’re not rebuilding. We are, by necessity, having to revamp the defensive line.’’
You can call it rebuilding, revamping, retooling or whatever else your thesaurus offers you; The fact is that Garrett has completely reshaped the team, in the process definitely making it younger, probably making it hungrier and hopefully making it better. The latter of course is what we are all banking on to happen in 2014.
Because when all is said and done, there is only one reason why a team would embark on such a rebuilding process in the first place: the rebuilt team wants to be a better team, a winning team. The Cowboys have drafted 31 players in the four drafts under Garrett's tenure. 25 of those players remain with the team today, along with many more free agents and UDFAs brought in over those four years. On a team with 90 players, all but ten are on the roster as a result of the roster renewal process the Cowboys have embarked on under Garrett over the last four years.
So what do you think: Are four years of retooling, revamping, or rebuilding enough? Is this the year it finally pays off for the Cowboys?