Coach Jason Garrett continually brings up “the process” during his Cowboys press conferences. What is the process? For Garrett, it’s simply to make this team and by extension, this organization, better than it was the day before. Garrett’s process is no doubt the same vision that his first NFL, Jimmy Johnson, subscribed too as well. Garrett wants to make the Dallas Cowboys younger, faster and hopefully better. He believes in churning the roster and building competition at all spots. Unfortunately for Garrett, he has two pretty huge obstacles that Johnson did not. A salary cap and an owner who believes he was the main reason for the Cowboys success.
The process was on full display over the holiday weekend. As cut day came and went, much to everyone’s expectations, the initial fifty-three man roster was not the final version. Guys such as John Wetzel, Ahmad Dixon and Jemea Thomas barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief before they were replaced by other guys let go from other teams that Garrett and the rest of the Cowboys brain trust feel will be better options.
Garrett’s personal vision behind the process has remained steady, regardless of what has been around him. You see, it’s not that the roster churn that’s strange. It’s not the competition that’s questionable. It’s the players that are chosen to be part of the process.
One huge area of concern for the Cowboys heading into the 2014 season is the defensive line. Not only is there a lack of star power (no pun intended) but there is a lot of youth. The talent level resides somewhere between minimal and questionable. The average age of the defensive line is 25.8 years old with five years of NFL experience, not including rookies DeMarcus Lawrence, Davon Coleman and Ken Bishop. Only two guys have ever been to a Pro Bowl and neither of them did much practicing during training camp, let alone actual game participation.
After all the league cuts were made, Dallas had the opportunity to address the huge need with some spare parts from other rosters. These included players such as former Denver Bronco Kevin Vickerson who dominated the Cowboys in the final preseason game or Israel Idonije, who tallied 21.5 sacks in three years under DC Rod Marinelli in Chicago and was let go by the Giants or even rookie DE Michael Sam who the Rams let go because they have the exact opposite problem of the Cowboys, even though Sam posted three sacks, four quarterback pressures and eleven tackles during the preseason.
Instead, Dallas traded a conditional seventh round pick to acquire Tennessee Titan defensive end Lavar Edwards. Another case of youth and inexperience over guys that have been productive in the league. As for Sam, I honestly have no clue as to the explanation on why not to go after him. Then again, it’s not my “process.”
The Cowboys could also use some help in their linebacker corps and in their secondary. Options such as former Cardinal LB Marcus Benard who has 14 sacks in 37 career games and Bears camp invitee CB Kelvin Hayden who has 12 career interceptions were both available. Instead, Dallas chose to add former Seahawk LB Korey Toomer and former 49er C.J. Spillman. Toomer has zero career sacks and Spillman has zero career interceptions. Who’s that ordering up another serving of youth and inexperience? Why, of course, it’s “the process.”
Ultimately, like the players, those of us fans who have been with this organization for our entire lives have no other option but to trust the process and hope that these moves pan out. Vickerson, Idonije, Sam, Benard and Hayden are all still out there so it’s not like Dallas was the only team that passed on them. While nothing has wowed me about Edwards, I have read a lot of good things about Toomer and Spillman does contribute positivity on special teams. At this point, with less than a week to go, it appears that this current 53 is what were going into battle with Sunday when San Francisco comes to town. Hopefully, the “process” equates out to a victory.