In my first article on The Landry Hat, I wrote about how Jason Garrett’s future with the Cowboys looked gloomy. I criticized many of the moves made this offseason, and predicted that the Cowboys would take a step back because of them. I disagreed with moves such as the firing of Rob Ryan, the draft, and the lack of improvement in our roster. After watching four preseason games, those criticism are beginning to come back to haunt me.
Firing Rob Ryan might have been the best thing the Cowboys has done this offseason. I think Ryan is a fine defensive coordinator, but the problem with his schemes was that they were too complex. It took players too long to understand his system. One reason Rob Ryan didn’t succeed in Dallas was because of injuries. Injuries are unavoidable, so when new players have to step up for injuries, they had no idea what they were doing in Rob Ryan’s defense. With Monte Kiffin’s defensive scheme, it is a very simple concept. Players can come in right away, and play well in his defense. Players won’t be constantly confused, and the simplified defense should make it easier for our depth player. Kiffin’s scheme was known for getting a lot of turnovers, and so far we’ve seen a number of them in preseason. If this can carry over to the regular season, the Cowboys’ defense will certainly be a fun one to watch.
Moving on to the draft, our draft picks have been good so far. Travis Frederick has been playing well. He has not made many mistakes at the center position so far. As a guard he had some troubles, but we will primarily be using him as a center. People will say he was a reach at the time; but he’s beginning to show us that he was well worth the pick. J.J. Wilcox has impressed me as well. He always seems to be around the ball carrier, and can tackle well in one-on-one situations. He also had a crucial redzone interception against the Raiders. He is a raw player, but with some proper development, he can turn into a star. Joseph Randle has been contributing to the depth we had at runningback. He’s been running well, and has been using his elusiveness to make plays. Devonte Holloman has arguably been our best draft pick. He has been a dominant playmakers, he can tackle well, get pressure on the QB, get interceptions, and has dominated the competition. While he may have been against second string players, he looked like a man amongst boys. Gavin Escobar and B.W. Webb have shined at time, but they still have lots of room to improve. From what I’ve seen so far, our draft picks are developing very well.
Finally, let’s talk about the offensive playcalling. Our running game was not good last year. It was ranked 31st in the league last year. Some of the blame can be put on Jason Garrett, and his inability to commit to the run. Callahan has stuck with the run when he has been playcalling. We’ve always had a strong passing attack, but the defenses would always know we were going to throw the ball a lot. Now we have a more balanced attack and it should lead to more successful drives. In addition, it seems like the team has been executing more cleanly. There have been fewer penalties since Garrett has given up playcalling duties. In the last two games, I’ve only counted one pre-snap penalty. This is a major improvement from last year, and I hope this carries on to the regular season.
The Cowboys made many tweaks to the team this year. At the time, I was convinced that most of these were bad moves. I am happy to say, that it looks like I’m wrong so far. It was a quiet offseason for the Cowboys. However, if they can continue to play consistently at this level, they are no doubt a playoff team.