The Dallas Cowboys need another veteran offensive lineman and at least one more veteran WR.
It isn’t even open for debate. And yet, here we are, grasping for explanations as to why Steven won’t even do his bargain- bin signing routine at this point. James Washington is out of the picture for the foreseeable future and he was hardly impressive in camp before he broke his foot. Terrence Steele was not a highly-ranked tackle last year. Tyler Biadasz was not a highly-ranked center last year. That’s two-fifths of the offensive line that was sub-par to begin with. The backups are simply not anything to reassure us about this line. And now Waletzko is out and the swing tackle position remains unsettled.
All of this is shining a bright spotlight on the Jones’ inaction in free agency, which hello, is still going on. They could go out and get players today if they wanted to. Good players, solid players. In the WR world, they can still go get playmakers.
So what gives?
Let’s start with the most popular theory:
Jerry and Steven Are Mailing it In and Waiting for Sean Payton
We should all hate this theory, because we’ve all waited long enough for Dallas to make a deep playoff run and it seems asinine to write off this team and coaching staff for this season already. The thought of the Jones’ deciding to "keep their powder dry" all season and let McCarthy and company suffer through shortages in two of the team’s most critical areas, just so Payton will have plenty of cap space to go shopping with next offseason, makes me crazy. And the idea, as some have floated, that the Jones’ want to earn those compensatory picks for 2023 as well, makes me even more nuts. Randy Gregory will net Dallas a fourth-round pick by not replacing him with comparable talent. The other departures will net Dallas a couple of sixth-round picks. One of those sixth-rounders could bump up to a fifth-rounder if Cedric Wilson balls out in Miami, which seems unlikely, given the numbers on that team. But those picks are hardly an intelligent reason to not replace those players with comparable talent. Sixth-rounders are far more likely to wash out than they are to contribute in any meaningful way. And fourth-round picks are less than a coin-flip chance of paying off. But back to this season.
This season could go a million different directions. Tom Brady could blow out his knee at some point. The wheels could fly off the Rams team a dozen different ways. Aaron Rodgers could break his collarbone, yet again. Dallas could find themselves in a situation where the road to the NFC Championship is the easiest it’s been in decades. And the Jones’ would be sitting there thinking "Wow, we could have helped out this offensive line and receiving corps and we’d be dominating the NFC right now. But instead, Dak is on the run constantly and most of his receivers are rookies who all run option routes differently than he’s expecting and we dropped all those games earlier in the season while the offense was trying to figure things out…"
It doesn’t make sense. Even for Jerry Jones, it doesn’t make sense. Dallas has the future Defensive Player of the Year winner—multiple times over—All Pro, multiple times over—-Hall of Famer, most likely, in Micah Parsons. And we have many more defensive players that surprised us last year. Dallas has a defense. A legit defense that wouldn’t surprise anyone if they jumped up a notch and were a top-three unit this year. That’s huge.
This theory just can’t be true in light of all that. It’s just too much to believe.
The Glen Gary, Glen Ross Theory
Don’t worry if that title means nothing to you. Unless you’’re a big theatre fan or specifically a David Mamet fan, you probably don’t know the reference. I’ll explain (and I apologize for such an obscure reference).
This is a play about a crappy little sales room that sells condos or time-share condos, to people. The group is for the most part pretty desperate because their leads are all old and pretty bad. Their sales numbers are abysmal. I’ve only ever watched the star-studded movie version, featuring Alec Baldwin, Jack Lemon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Al Pacino and Kevin Spacey. Baldwin’s character is the VP of Sales or something, he’s a hard core, million-dollar salesman who was asked to stop by and address the struggling sales office. He reads them the riot act. One of the salesmen is pouring himself coffee as Baldwin is ripping into them. Baldwin yells, "PUT THE COFFEE DOWN. Coffee is for closers." Very famous line. Anyway, he goes on to belittle them some more and then he explains this months sales contest. "First place is a Cadillac. Second place is a set of steak knives. Third place is your fired."
After that, he brings out the new leads. A neatly tied up stack of index cards with names of people who have shown an interest in buying a condo in the past. He holds them up and tells them these are the new leads, "the Glen Garry leads and to you they’re gold. But you can’t have them. Because it would be a waste to give them to you. They’re for closers."
So here is how the Glen Gary Theory of Cowboys Inactivity goes: Jerry and Steven took the early playoff loss very hard, very, very hard. I imagine they even kicked around the idea of firing McCarthy and elevating Quinn last January.
I think they were especially pissed off that with arguably three WR1’s on the team and all the money on their payroll for that offense, their head coach, who came up as an offensive coordinator, couldn’t figure out how to get his team out of the offensive slump they fell into in the last half of the season.
And I think they decided, lets give McCarthy one more season, but he has to show us he can find the talent he needs without us continuing to provide him with an embarrassment of proven talent on offense. Just like in Glen Gary, Glen Ross, he has to produce with what he has in order to keep his job. In other words, "Free agency is for closers!"
This is an old school approach, to be sure.
And just like the first approach, this isn’t a very rational way to go about doing things. But neither is pretending that Ezekiel Elliot is still the team’s best running back and giving him the bulk of the touches on offense. But if Jerry’s comments in training camp are any indication, that is exactly what this team plans to do, again.
I think this is just about a dumb a way to approach things as what I’ve outlined in the first theory. If you’re going to keep McCarthy, then at least give him a fighting chance.
I would love more than anything for this post to become obsolete almost as soon as I finished this article. It would mean Dallas signed some players to help fill these holes soon after I clicked submit. I’m not holding my breath.
If they don’t make a significant move before they line up against the Buccaneers and then the Bengals the next week, then this team is going to be 0-2.
There may be some diamonds in the rough that get uncovered during this training camp. Maybe Vasher and Fehoko and Turpin all have something. Maybe Steele takes the next step. But they’re going to need some polish before they’re ready to fill the voids left by Amari Cooper, Cedric Wilson and L’ael Collins departing. And it would be idiotic to just let this team fall behind early in the season simply because the Jones family has decided—for whatever reason— they don’t want to spend to bring in established vets.
The Extreme Glen Gary, Glen Ross Theory: Dak is in the Pressure Cooker
In this instance, the goal, as in Glen Gary, Glen Ross, is to weed out all the men who aren’t "closers" and the Jones family decides they aren’t sparing anyone. What they are really up to this season is a pressure cooker situation. If Dak can rise to the occasion and carry this team, he stays. If not, then Dallas trades Dak to another team.
In order for this theory to be correct, we have to conclude that the Jones’ were shaken in their belief that Prescott can get it done after the 49ers loss. They are just about to give up on him, as the Rams did with Goff, as the Eagles did with Wentz. So the pressure cooker is: you get just one franchise WR, a good running back tandem, hopefully a decent offensive line, a good TE and a bunch of rookie WRs to cobble together your passing game. And you have to carry the team.
We probably also need to conclude, if this theory is right, that Jerry is in ongoing talks with Sean Payton and Sean is not a Dak Prescott fan. The current unwillingness to sign anyone to help out this team is really about creating a poor record that will be a pretext for moving on from Dak Prescott.
The trade deadline this year is November 2. Dallas could be 1-4 by the Sunday night following the Rams game, October 9. They could start putting out feelers to clubs in need of a QB. They play at Philadelphia the next week, a game they could easily lose. By the time the trade deadline is looming, there would be enough bad sentiment about this club to make it easier for fans to take the big trade.
They might also give McCarthy the axe while they’re at it and ask Dan Quinn to stay on as interim head coach. That way, if things fall apart in negotiations with Payton, they have Quinn in place as HC already and they move forward from there.
The fact that all three of these theories are bonkers, only goes to illustrate how irrational this club is acting at the present moment. There are no rational reasons for sitting around and not signing reinforcements for this club at this stage in training camp. Getting players in here now is the way to integrate them into the system prior to going to battle with two SB contenders to start the season. Of course, the most likely reason is that the Jone’s family simply doesn’t know what they’re doing, just as in all the years prior.