The Dallas Cowboys are too old. This was a complaint that rang out numerous times last season. An aging Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten continued to lead the offense best they could. They were joined by a 36 year old Brian Waters stepped out of retirement to play offensive guard after the team became ravaged by injury. And of course now former Cowboy defensive end DeMarcus Ware and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who were both 31 years old, yet remained the heartbeat of the defensive line.
Romo and Witten remain, and the offensive line has been undoubtedly reinforced with the addition of rookie guard Zack Marti out of Notre Dame. Those claiming we could be looking at the next Great Wall of Dallas could very well be right. With offensive left tackle Tyron Smith and second-year phenom center Travis Frederick along with Martin, we have three players capable of being Pro Bowlers for the next 10+ years.
Without a doubt parting ways with Ware was unthinkable until it happened earlier this offseason. The seven time Pro Bowler was a leader on and off the field. And for the majority of his career, Ware was all you could’ve asked for from a defensive player. His final couple of years as a Cowboy were injury hit, but with franchise records including the all time sack leader Ware will always be remembered as a true great.
The fact Cowboys fans and staff alike all looked upon Ware so fondly, and regardless of injury status, he remained an integral part of the team perhaps makes it even more surprising that Dallas owner and general manager Jerry Jones didn’t tie Ware down with a new contract. With the cap situation so tight for the Cowboys, ultimately it was the right time to part with the likes of Ware and wide receiver Miles Austin and turn attention and money to the future of the Cowboys.
So with the old boys out the door, we turn to the young men who shall replace them. Cowboys fans craved a younger roster and now we’ve got just that. The draft was greeted by a mixture of nervous trepidation and positivity of what could come, the likes of Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Devin Street and Anthony Hitchens will be looked upon as starters. With a significant number of rookies taking the field, we’ll be heading into unknown territory and to finish 8-8 for the 4th successive year could be seen as a success or failure simply as we just cannot predict how this young group of men will perform.
Last year, USA Today reported that the average age of the players on the Cowboys team was 26. That placed America’s Team with the 15th youngest roster in the NFL. The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks ranked #4 on that same list. Although the Cowboys have not yet set their final roster for 2014, it is a near certainty Dallas will climb that chart pretty significantly once the regular season begins. In fact, Footballperspective.com estimates the Cowboys will be the eighth youngest team in the league in 2014.
They say be careful what you wish for. We’ve a younger roster and more depth than that available last year. Yet, the loss of linebacker Sean Lee has left many calling for a more experienced player to fill his void. In fact, many Cowboys fans were clamoring for the retired Brian Urlacher to be signed. At his prime, Urlacher would’ve been a dream of a replacement for Lee. But in reality he is 36 years old, suffered injuries at the tail end of his career with the Bears, and has been out of the game for over a year. It’s easy to assume an established name is the answer when you lose such a dominating presence as Lee. But senior players demand reps and are we willing to sacrifice giving our younger players time to develop?
There’s a freshness throughout the Cowboys franchise as a whole. That includes the rookies on the roster, the staff with new coaches and it’s structure. Even with the way Jerry Jones handled the draft (who really believed he could bring himself to pass on Johnny ‘football’ Manziel). Sadly, this is by no means going to be an instant fix that will somehow bring about an unrivaled march to Super Bowl glory.
Patience amongst fans will be a must this year. Especially considering the Cowboys tough looking schedule. However, the old wasn’t working so by rolling the dice and making a change let’s see where we can go. The rookies are all Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett‘s ‘right kind of guy’. This should allow him and his coaches to mold these young men into players that play football the way his system warrants. After all, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.