Every year this site is filled with joy at the possibilities of Player A being thrust out of his position by Player B. Then there are the guys that are eased back from injuries that are going to be world-beaters. What typically happens is that these matters take time and, almost always, some fans are disappointed by the results of week one. Rome wasn't built in a day as the old saying goes.
For most of the offseason, the Cowboys have operated as a team that is not too concerned with what an article or two would claim their team to be. They obviously believe that they have a squad capable of great things, much closer to what they were in 2014 than 2015. They believe that the dagger that ended their season was attrition and that with a clean slate, they can replicate, if not surpass, any success they had when finishing 13-5 that cold day in Green Bay. At least, that's what the moves they made in the offseason add up to.
On one hand, they certainly have a point, on the other, they need help in key areas to sniff the success they covet. What's important for us to remember is that we must temper expectations and find the realities within. Here are a few to pay attention to:
Expectation: Chaz Green Will Beat Out Doug Free
Reality: Chaz Green Needs To Win The Swing Tackle Job
If you listen to the always insightful and intelligent comrades of mine, McCool and Joey, they outlined this on their latest BTB Podcast. They are absolutely correct, too. Everyone wants a way to where we can forget the head-scratching pick that was made in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. That was the spot where many of us thought possibly a young running back would be taken. Instead, the Cowboys took Chaz Green, in order to fortify an already impressive group.
What happened next was a luck of the draw, in which, the Cowboys somehow convinced a Top-10 talent into joining the team as a UDFA and made the Green pick even more puzzling. Green took his rookie season as a redshirt year. Now, everyone wants him to waltz into training camp and unseat a 10-year vet with almost 100 starts? Can it happen? Sure. Will it? Not likely. Chaz Green doesn't deserve that type of pressure on him right now. What Chaz needs to do is unseat any challengers for the third tackle position. That would be a huge win for him and the team if he can accomplish that. One step at a time, don't look to tomorrow when you need to finish today.
Expectation: Kellen Moore Is A Sufficient Number Two
Reality: Cowboys Shouldn't Close Door On Exploring Options
This has been a problem for me for quite a while now. If Kellen Moore is the guy to be the backup, why be afraid to add competition unless you're afraid of the potential result? We all wanted to get a glimpse of Moore after the disaster that was underway with Matt Cassel. That said, Matt Cassel is not your scapegoat for all that went wrong with this offense in 2015. The scapegoat is the coaching staff that came to their decision making and being wrong at every turn. Hindsight is 20/20 and some of the guys at the Mothership have claimed that they may have let Brandon Weeden loose too quick.
No, the problem is they have preached a message of creating competition throughout the roster. The best players will play. They haven't had any competition at the quarterback position. Last year, Brandon Weeden was their man and that was it. Moore was brought in after the fact, Cassel was traded for after the fact. There was no competition. They need to keep and eye on what's still out there, I'm certain as there are a day and a night that they know what's out there. Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers are not even in competition with each other. (For a differing opinion on Showers, check out Tom Ryle's article from earlier today). Prescott will make the team and Showers is likely a candidate for the practice squad. Kellen Moore is the defacto backup quarterback and unopposed. That's too dangerous for my liking, he needs to earn his spot. He hasn't done that by anything that I've seen, can he even make all the NFL throws? There is some unsettling feeling about this position that still needs some answering.
Expectation: The Cowboys Will Trade Ronald Leary To Team In Need For 2017 Pick
Reality: Ronald Leary Is Worth More To The Cowboys Than What They Could Get For Him
The Cowboys are in a great situation with their offensive linemen and they have what we call a surplus. So, naturally, Leary would like to go somewhere that will give him a starting role because he's a starting-caliber player. You can't fault him for that. However, those that are hoping for a team to come through with a great offer shouldn't hold their breath. Trades for players in the NFL happen less often every year unless your name is Chip Kelly. Expecting someone to give a high pick for Leary is not likely to happen either.
The best thing to happen is for the Cowboys to keep him on the roster as insurance in 2016 and let him test free agency next season. He is still a player that has a degenerative knee condition, teams around the league haven't forgotten that. If he tests free agency in 2017 and is offered a nice deal, the Cowboys could recoup a compensatory pick depending on the size of the deal. Now, that he's signed the tender, he'll be back when it comes time for mandatory reporting. He's not likely to garner more than fourth-round compensation, his value to the team as of right now is much higher than that.
Expectation: Charles Tapper May Take Hold Of A Starting Gig
Reality: Charles Tapper Will Play A Role In 8-Man Rotations
I've been guilty of this because I do believe that he has all the skills to develop into a real legitimate piece in the puzzle before long. The keyword here is development, Tapper was often used out of place at Oklahoma and still has some raw skills that need some polishing. You can see all of the potential to do something special down the road but the NFL doesn't favor rookie pass rushers right away. Tapper will be effective if used in the right manner as part of the rotation. He's lucky to be coming into the league with one of the great defensive minds in the league.
It's important for him to take well to coaching and follow the veterans on this team to learn how to be a consistent pass rusher. Is he better than his fourth-round selection? I sure believe so, but he's got a ways to go in order to be brought to the speed on the NFL. Randy Gregory was a consensus Top-5 selection before marijuana stood in his way, but his pedigree is far superior to what Tapper is currently at. Don't expect Tapper to just burst onto the scene right away, these things take time. As soon as the knuckleheads return from their suspensions, it's back to the starting lineup for both of them. The true story of this defensive line is the depth they are trying to build, not one person becoming a mega-star.