The Dallas Cowboys are trying to do something that is nearly impossible. They are attempting to win a Super Bowl title while restocking a veteran-laden team with some much needed youth. Don’t get it twisted. This team is in a rebuilding process. But don’t tell Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that. He doesn’t believe in rebuilding. He’d never use that word. He only believes in winning Super Bowls, every season. Jerry wants his cake and to eat it too. I imagine most billionaires do.
That non-existent rebuilding process was evident last season when Dallas was forced to rely too heavily on their incoming draft class due to injury and poor play. And fresh-faced newcomers like tight end Gavin Escobar, safety J.J. Wilcox, cornerback B.W. Webb, running back Joseph Randle, safety Jeff Heath and linebacker DeVonte Holloman weren’t quite ready to carry that load and all buckled under the pressure. And their not supposed to be ready…their rookies. Center Travis Frederick and wide receiver Terence Williams were the exception to that rule in 2013. But even they had their bumps in the road.
The Cowboys front office is currently being praised for finally being “fiscally responsible” by fans. But let’s also remember, their defense is somehow in worse shape now than it was last year. And they have done little to nothing to fix it. I’m not sure we’ll be praising their new, more responsible approach if the defense turns in a worse performance in 2014.
This offseason, a Cowboys defense that was ranked dead last in 2013, parted ways with it’s very heart and soul in All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Although physically on the decline, Ware at 50% is better than a majority of defensive players in the league.Was he overpaid? Sure. Was it the right move to release him? Yes. But those facts didn’t help our defense in 2014 any.
The Cowboys then lost the lone bright spot of last year’s defense, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, to free agency. Both Ware and Hatch signed with other teams and both were grossly overpaid. Regardless, the Cowboys already dreadful defense somehow got even worse with their departure.
How did the Cowboys front office address these needs? They signed a defensive tackle in Henry Melton who is coming off an ACL injury after having his first and only Pro Bowl season in 2012. They signed a defensive end in free agent Jeremy Mincey who has had minimal success in the NFL but was cut from his previous, previous team because he had “concentration issues”. And they sign a defensive tackle in Terrell McClain who has yet to do anything of note in the NFL. Not exactly sure-things.
Although the signing of Melton was a big win for Dallas, there are still more questions than actual answers surrounding the defense in-flux. And at this point, the Cowboys haven’t made this roster better than last season’s squad. If the trade off between Hatcher’s play from last year and Melton’s first year in Dallas is a wash, than the defense is still without the best pass rusher in their franchise’s history. And how are the Cowboys going to replace him? And that’s where we are. Back to the topic of rebuilding.