The question put before the BTB writing staff was this: Now that the season has begun to play out, what would your team do today if they could go back and change one move they made in the offseason? Would it instead be a move or addition they didn't make?
Interesting question and one with many answers. So I presented the question to the staff. Of course hindsight is 20-20, so the answers are much easier today than they would have been at the time the offseason was playing out.
My personal take: The Cowboys should have looked for help along their linebacking corps once Anthony Hitchens was injured. Hitchens went down on Aug 26th in what turned out to be their final preseason game. They started the regular season on Sept 10th. In that time they decided to stay put and trust that a combination of Jaylon Smith and Justin Durant could fill the middle linebacker void. At first, it seemed like Smith could do the job. He was given plenty of reps and his knee wasn’t aggravated or re-injured. It appeared like he was doing okay, but that was masked by a pitiful Giants offense. In the second game, the Broncos blew out the whole Cowboys defense so Smith/Durant weren’t singled out.
But as time went on and Sean Lee got hurt, Smith, and Durant to a lesser degree, were exposed by the Rams and the Packers. Not only in the running game but in pass coverage and containing the quarterback. Damien Wilson has also not taken the next step up. Without Lee, the linebackers have been a mess. If they could have found a player to help (yes, I know that’s not always easy to do, but they could have made a serious effort), then I believe they could be 3-2 or possibly 4-1 at this point. Sure, it’s not an easy ask, but if there is one thing I would have changed so far to immediately help the 2017 season, that would be it.
Now for some other views.
OCC: I think given the choice at a do-over, the team might today choose to re-sign safety Barry Church instead of letting him walk in free agency. A veteran presence in the secondary would help the Cowboys right now, and Church always was that reliable player, even if he likely would have been a bridge player in Dallas.
DannyPhantom: The move I regret the most right now is not bringing back Terrell McClain. There were times last season that he was the Cowboys best defensive player on the field. He was finally healthy and was very disruptive in the middle. While everyone is centered on the absence of Sean Lee being the biggest reason the Cowboys run defense has suffered, you can't look past what McClain gave the team on the interior line. He and Maliek Collins worked so well together and if you were to combine that with what the team now has in DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, this defensive line would be a force.
Michael Strawn: Taco Charlton would be my change. He looks like a 100% bust to me, as many predicted. Missing on first-round picks is always a significant setback for long-term success.
Tom Ryle: My one offseason change would be to not sign Nolan Carroll. I get the logic going in, but it turned out he just wasn't effective on the field at all, and that was exactly what many predicted. The cap money used on him could probably have been better spent, well, almost anywhere. (I don't feel the same about Stephen Paea, since his problem was injury and not ability.)
VAfan: I'm going with relying on Jeff Heath as a starting safety. The Cowboys have options in Xavier Woods and Chidobe Awuzie (when he gets healthy) to begin phasing out Heath. But if the Cowboys hadn't signed Nolan Carroll for $3M, they could have used that money to sign TJ Ward for $4M when he became available, and had more time to phase in the rookies.
What would you change about this offseason if you could?