This offseason for the Dallas Cowboys has been as irritating as it has been long. In fact, this offseason has brought on new disappointments seemingly every week and it is perfectly fine to be a little ticked off as Cowboys' fans. It's time to face facts, the Cowboys have vastly overestimated their abilities to take risks and it's hurting the organization.
Let's start with the three suspensions that have been looming over the team for months and now have just taken a turn for the worse. When it comes to Randy Gregory, I see all sides of the argument. He needs to learn a level of maturity that nobody is sure he'll ever get, at the same time, the NFL's drug policy is an absolute joke in comparisons to other professional sports. That's neither here nor there, Gregory needs to take responsibilities for his actions, which hopefully this rehabilitation stint can help him do. Rolando McClain is in the same boat, floating up the same creek without a paddle. Add DeMarcus Lawrence to the mix and you have a team that is looking at being fined for the lack of discipline and their handling of player conduct.
It's hard to just sit and place blame on these players, especially Gregory and McClain, when they've been who they are for so long. In the case of what the Cowboys are dealing with, blame the front office. Let's not pretend that we weren't excited about Gregory falling to 60th overall, it doesn't mean we weren't cautious, but his talent made the risk worth what we knew at that time. This is not solely about these suspensions, though, it's about the Cowboys inability to have the support system in place after emphatically saying that they do.
It doesn't take much to understand that the Cowboys are as stubborn an organization as the NFL umbrella that they're under. We've already been down this road a month or so ago, no need to get back into my thoughts on that. Staying with this organization, look at what they have done in recent years and it jumps out at you. Let's iron some of these out, shall we?
"Support System", "Buddy System", or "Leeches?"
We see that there is a lot going on in regards to Dez Bryant and his former caretaker Royce West. Say what you want about Bryant but he's the last risk they have taken that has actually paid off. He also did it by listening to smarter influences and I'm certainly not referring to the support system the Cowboys brought to him. He's being sued for damages to a home that he used to lease from Senator West.
However, though damage was done, it hardly makes sense in the form of $60,000 worth of damages that he's claiming for carpet repair and general "wear and tear." Bryant also was instructed many moons ago to make David Wells his power of attorney and grant access to his personal effects as well as bank account by none other than West. Bryant claims to be "pressured" into renting the house by West as well. It's no wonder that Bryant cleansed himself of these "cronies" and is counter-suing for more than $200,000 for endorsements and other funds that should have been given to him but never turned up.
These were guys that were suggested by the Jones' as people whom Bryant could align himself with and feel good about their intentions. Still, Bryant hasn't aimed any animosity towards the Cowboys' for giving him some terrible advice. Instead, he has shown his growth by handling his own business and taking responsibility for his former transgressions as well as aligned himself with seemingly smarter people. All of this mess has been at fault of his own but don't think for one second that these guys had Bryant's "best interest". Does that sound like a good support system to you?
Second Round Gambles
Our good buddy, KD Drummond, spoke about this extensively on his podcast and he couldn't be more accurate. The Cowboys' mishandling of their second-round picks is continuously blowing up in their faces. You can trace it all the way back to 2008 when the Cowboys' took that chance on Martellus Bennett. Since then, it's not been too pretty. The Cowboys love to take risks with their second-round picks and they have not worked out. If you keep making the same mistakes, maybe it's time to change the method.
2009 was a disaster for almost all teams and the Cowboys didn't have a second-round pick after trading out. 2010, the Cowboys took an oft-injured linebacker, Sean Lee. He just made his first Pro Bowl in six seasons and still has yet to play a full schedule. In 2011, they opted to take another injured linebacker in Bruce Carter. He never lived up to his potential and left in free agency to the Buccaneers and spent a year in Tampa, now he's with the Jets. We know the Cowboys traded their second-rounder in 2012 to move up to the sixth-overall pick for cornerback Morris Claiborne. He's yet to show that he's anything more than serviceable at cornerback. They took an incomplete grade for Gavin Escobar in 2013, who hasn't done much and is a PUP candidate this season.
In 2014, they elected to move up to take DeMarcus Lawrence who is coming off back surgery and will be suspended for four games. We've already discussed Randy Gregory, who if he keeps it up, may never see an NFL field again. This season they went with another highly-talented but injured linebacker in Jaylon Smith. He certainly will not play this season as they await his nerve to wake up for a potential debut in 2017. All of these aforementioned risks have contributed to the severe lack of depth for the Cowboys heading into the season.
Ignorance Isn't Bliss
Perhaps my biggest beef with the front office is their blatant ignorance for what ails them. They seem to have this idea that Tony Romo and the offense can magically do it all. I've given them credit for not overspending as some NFL teams have, but they haven't really addressed their problems. The first step to solving the problem is admitting that you have one.
Their lack of movement to find adequate pass rushers is alarming because it makes their comments null and void. Jerry Jones has said that all of this was "expected" and that they "weren't counting on" certain players due to suspensions. That's a terrible pile of rotten bologna because they would have made more attempts to fix their issues had they not thought they were going to get something out of those suspended players.
They have zero proven pass rushers and haven't even tried to answer that problem. Yes, they have pieces around on defense such as Lee, Orlando Scandrick, Byron Jones, and Tyrone Crawford. However, they don't look to have anyone who can set the edge and without Rolando McClain, the run defense is going to suffer. The front office has repeatedly said no to bringing in any veteran talent such as a Dwight Freeney (eight sacks last season). They need help but then again they are the only ones who don't seem to realize that.
The Dallas Cowboys have shown that they will take risks but they haven't received any rewards from their risks in a long while. Maybe they need to not take any more risks for a few years, maybe just improve the team without trying to be so cute at times. One thing is certain, they must think that their offense is going to be the greatest offense ever assembled. At least every move they have made would suggest so but do you really want the offense under that much pressure to carry the team? This front office is like the procrastinating seniors who watch as all of their friends go off to colleges and they're stuck at home having peaked in high school. Too little, too late. All I can say is that between suspensions, lack of depth, rumored accusations, and even tragic accidents, this offseason has been a dark cloud that needs to go away.