Yes, fans. The fate of “America’s Team” could lie in the hands of a 22 year old man-child. And you have the Dallas Cowboy’s bumbling Front Office to thank for that. The Cowboy’s lack of planning, inability to act, and apparent arrogance during the free agency scramble has cost them valuable players…and most likely the season.
The Cowboys decision to “sit on their hands” during Free Agency is the correct approach for a team who made it deep into the playoffs last year. The reasoning here is that they may only be one or two players away from the championship. But the Cowboys did not even make the playoffs last year. Not even close. The arrogance to think that a team who went 6-10 last year can win more games by only resigning free agents on their own team is approaching lunacy. Lest we forget that they also dropped a ton of talent into free agency as well. How is that a winning formula?
The crown jewel of Free Agency was former Raider’s Cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha. And although there was about a two hour window where most broadcasters believed that Dallas had a chance of landing him. But in retrospect, we were only a smoke screen to get him more money from another team. How nice of you, Dallas Front Office, to add a little insult to our injury. Life long fans of the Cowboy’s franchise love getting jerked around and used like yesterday’s toilet paper. All the better that the Philadelphia Eagles get the future Hall of Famer instead of us. In the words of the Church Lady: “Isn’t that special?”
Although landing Asomugha was mostly a pipe dream, there were plenty of above average players who could have filled major gaps on our team. Names like Eric Weddle, Dawan Landry, Michael Huff, and Cullen Jenkins. But one by one, these players got plucked from free agency while the Dallas Front Office did nothing but “fist-bump” each other. What are you celebrating? Mediocrity? Maybe Abram Elam will come in as the new “Darren Woodson” and answer all our needs? I think not.
The worst thing about the Free Agency fumble committed by the Dallas Cowboy’s Front Office is that the NFL Lockout gave them ample time to prepare. They literally had months to target and evaluate free agent candidates to help the team. What have they been doing for the last few months? Playing in golf tournaments and checking their Facebook pages? The Cowboys need to take a page from a well prepared staff…one like their division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
Last year’s NFC East division leader made the biggest splash in Free Agency so far. The Philadelphia Eagles not only landed Asomugha, but also Vince Young, Cullen Jenkins, Dominque Rodgers Cromartie, Jason Babin and most recently Running Back Ronnie Brown. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Big D against Philly at least twice this year. And regardless of whether the Eagles have more cap money available to use or if Dallas is just playing the conservative game, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, our opponents are getting better while we seemingly do nothing. And that infuriates fans.
Speaking of the fans, most of their hopes now ride on the backs of two men who don’t even get on the field: Coach Jason Garrett and new Defensive Coordinator Coach Rob Ryan. After taking over last year at mid-season for Wade Phillips, Coach Garrett lead the 1-7 Boy’s to a winning 5-3 record. And all without All-Pro Quarterback Tony Romo, who was out due to injury. Despite the major positive difference in team attitude after the coaching switch, the Cowboys last six games were all won or lost by a mere 3 point margin or less. Needless to say, the Boy’s could have easily been the worst team in Football with a margin that tight. Now with a shorten amount of time to get his players prepared, Coach Garrett faces his first full season as Head Coach of America’s Team with the “chips stacked against him”.
The other beacon of Cowboy fan hope is Defensive Guru Rob Ryan. The former Oakland and Cleveland Defensive Coach brings an undeniable passion and flair for the dramatic to an under-achieving Dallas defense. Fan’s are hoping that his schemes can get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and less pressure on our lackluster defensive backfield. But again, this is his first year with the Boys and he has less time than normal to prepare his players. If you also include the fact that the players are learning all new defensive plays and schemes, there will most likely be some learning curve issues at the start the season. And just like his father, Buddy Ryan found out, schemes only work until someone figures them out. And in today’s NFL, that isn’t very long.
So the Cowboy’s screwed up in Free agency. Check. They have new Coaches who intend on implementing new schemes/plays for players to learn in a shorten amount of time. Check. And due to player releases into free agency, the Boy’s will now have to rely more on less experienced and less prepared players in both major and back-up roles. Check. And they still think they can win? Check. Wait…what?
Which leads me back to the headline of this article. I believe the Cowboys can still have a winning season this year. Even despite the horrible inaction from the Front Office. But I believe our team’s destiny lays squarely on the shoulders of 2nd year Wide Receiver and avid Mall lover, Dez Bryant. At least the Front Office can say they got something right when they traded up to draft him.
Now, I know what you’re saying fans. Why not Tony Romo? Or the Dallas Defense? Well, in the short time he did play last year, Bryant showed something that the Cowboys have lacked since the Superbowl days of the early 1990’s. Remember those games when Troy Aikman couldn’t miss? Or when Emmitt Smith ran the Cowboys to a win with a broken arm? Or when Michael Irvin got caught with drugs and strippers at that…oh wait. Nevermind. (Just playing, Mike. I kid cause I love.)
In similar epic moments last year, when Dez had the ball, it seemed like he could almost determine the outcome of a game single handily. You could see it in the way Bryant punished defenses for extra yardage after the catch or the rise in spirit on the sidelines when he ran back a punt for a touchdown. Dez infected the game with a winning energy not seen since the early days of the original “Playmaker”, Michael Irvin. If you remember the glory days of the 1970’s and the early 1990’s, you recognized it too. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?
Obviously, Football is a team sport. No one player can truly dictate an entire game’s outcome without his teammates. But there are certain players who have a major effect on the win/loss column. Especially for a Dallas team that won and lost it’s last six games by 3 points or less last year. I’m saying Dez Bryant can be that difference. More than any other player or any coach on the team, Bryant’s impact is paramount. And if he can take the next step to greatness this year without getting the “sophomore slump”, Dez could be the best wide receiver in Football. Bank it! And I don’t think I’m over selling it here by saying that Dez Bryant’s impact alone could make this 6-10 team a 10-6 team by year’s end.