For the past two seasons, the Dallas Cowboys have been quiet in the off-season player grab known as free agency. They have avoided pitfalls that have plagued teams like the Washington Redskins. The question is raised however, “Is this by design?”
It has been suggested that owner Jerry Jones is too busy negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement leaving minimal time for the general manager Jerry Jones to court free agents. Jones has been quoted as saying:
“It’s even more embarrassing when you’re here and you’re evaluating talent. You get uniformly across the board an assessment where our talent is, and it’s a good one.”
The takeaway is that Jones the general manager is not watching enough film from 2010 to know that the team may be physically talented, but are fundamentally flawed. Maybe the Cowboys are not courting free agents because the available players are not substantially better than the talent presently on the team. Maybe the Cowboys are cash poor and are unable to pay players upfront compensation. Maybe Jones is simply being neglectful and not minding the store. Regardless of the situation, we know from Jones’s comments that he believes the talent in place is sufficient.
Therein lies the rub. Jones is not taking the time to review film. If he did, he would notice that the offensive line did not push defenders; he would notice the questionable amount of time given to the quarterbacks to throw; he would notice the defensive lineman losing ground; he would notice the opposing quarterback sitting in the pocket unmolested.
Jones must rebuild this team from the inside out – putting an emphasis on players who start a play near the ball. The Cowboys defensive secondary was miserable last year, but corner (Amukamara via the draft) and safety (OJ Atogwe via free agency) are/were not the answer. The 2011 draft must be a boring draft of players who will hold their own at the line of scrimmage. A defensive end in the first, a guard in the second won’t encourage fans to rush out to buy jerseys, but it may lead to fans having smiles on their faces come December 2011.