“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” ― Tacitus
For some Dallas Cowboys fans, it was 1998 all over again. Just like the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones passed on future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss in the first round of that year’s draft, they also passed on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft. Will the Cowboys ultimate demise be the tale of two passes? Heartbreak for some. Adjudication for others. So is the life of being a die-hard Cowboys fan.
If Manziel becomes the next great quarterback in the NFL, Dallas will forever regret this draft. If he simply becomes the next Tim Couch, the naysayers will tell you that they “told you so”. And they knew it all along. That’s how these things usually shake out.
One thing is for certain though. Dallas did pass on Johnny Football. They could have had him at No. 16. Instead, Dallas went with the safe pick: Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin. Manziel eventually landed in Cleveland six picks later.
But in three years, after Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is fired and quarterback Tony Romo retires due to injury, the Martin pick may be of little comfort to Dallas fans. Especially if Manziel is making regular Pro Bowl appearances. And that could very well be the reality as Dallas faces an uphill battle in 2014 just based upon their tough schedule.The fact the team is unlikely to make the playoffs once again means Garrett should last past 2014. But hey, he’s made it this far. And Romo is not getting any younger. Currently, he’s 34 with two back “procedures” in less than a year. I’ll give him two more years, prime or not.
On top of everything else, throw in the fact Dallas still has not addressed their team’s main issue, defense.
Martin fills a minor immediate need that might have become a major need after this year. That was all dependent upon the play of right tackle Doug Free, who is in the final year of his contract. But the fact is, the Cowboys have tackle Jeremy Parnell on the bench and could have played him at right tackle and moved Free to guard. Now it appears, with Martin in the fold, Dallas might lose both veteran players to free agency in 2014.
Although choosing Manziel instead still of Martin would not address the Cowboys bigger issues, Johnny’s selection would have marked a positive shift in the Cowboys “win now” mentality. The problem with a “win now” mentality is that there is never a “win later” strategy. There is never any forward-thinking. No real planning for the future. That lack of vision led to the Cowboys current situation.
Dallas was ill-equipped to replace quarterback Troy Aikman back in 2000 when he suddenly retired due to a back injury. That in-turn lead to several years of losing and searching before lucking finding undrafted free agent quarterback Tony Romo and finally starting him in 2006. Legendary running back Emmitt Smith was replaced by Troy Hambrick. The back-up Hambrick lasted a whole year before he was released. Now, the Cowboys lack of vision has led them to replace All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware with Jeremy Mincey? That’s what happens when you don’t plan ahead.