Cowboys Conversation: Defending Dallas’s Personnel Decisions

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Oct 13, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (50) jumps on the back of Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. at AT&T Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 31-16. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Meredith: Especially given that his argument not three paragraphs earlier was that we could have gotten Frederick a round later. So in that case we should have waited, but in this case we should have jumped for something that was not really worth it? I’m just confused.

It’s also sort of ironic given the season we just saw — the conference champs being first in overall offense and first in overall defense. The analysis leading up to the Superbowl was extensive and all about who won more often – teams with the best defense or teams with the best offense? The results showed that the answer was ‘sometimes teams with the best X win’. In other words, it’s not guaranteed in either instance, but being extraordinarily good in one facet was imperative to their success. I think Tim Colishaw said it quite well:

"“It’s hard to put together a team in the salary-cap NFL era that excels at everything. So in order to even begin to achieve success, you’ve got to be really good at one thing.”"

I read this as, ‘you can’t completely ignore the other aspects of your game, but you can’t have the expectation that everything is going to be exceptional giving the parameters under which teams function.’

Don: Think about the Giants during their Super Bowl runs. They did very few things at an above average level, but in the aspects of the game where they were above the median performance, they executed at an elite level — primarily in the pash rush, where they made conscious personnel decisions to ignore areas like linebacker and load up on defensive lineman. That is how you create differentiation in a league with so much parity — you find areas to dominate and in the areas you won’t, you find ways to get by.

Meredith: Right. But, here is where I think Mays’ argument also falls flat — the assertion that the team was ignoring other aspects while solely focusing on the offensive line. They didn’t ignore their defense entirely — it seems to me that it became a profound issue much more quickly than many would have anticipated due to injuries and other extenuating circumstances and the investments that they did make didn’t pan out as well as they had hoped. Neithan20000 over at Blogging the Boys just did a deep dive on this a couple of weeks ago, in fact. He went back to every team’s draft since 2005 to see when and how they invested their resources on their defense. What did he find?

"“Dallas outperforms the league average in total number of picks and premium picks, and is just behind in average round of pick.”"

Now, recognizing that averages rarely tell the whole story, he went a step further:

"“….I’ve created a draft score, by dividing the total number of picks by the average round of the pick. This gives a good approximation of how many resources a team actually spent.”"

And, according to this, the Cowboys were 5th in the league during this time — not something I would call a lack of investment. More like crappy circumstances — how many other teams had about two dozen guys playing on their d-line last year? That’s right, none. To be clear, I’m not making excuses, I just don’t think that narrative is true and I hate to see it perpetuated.

Don: Ok, I feel good now that we have put that argument to rest. Training Camp starts tomorrow. What are you looking forward to seeing?

Meredith: Besides seeing how my guy, L’Damian Washington performs? Nothing — my season rests on that outcome. I kid. Well, without going into specific position matchups, I’m just generally interested in seeing what the coordinators Linehan and Marinelli have up their sleeves and where they are practicing people. They have – quite possibly – two of the most important roles this year and this will be a good indicator of how they are approaching their roles.   


Don: Agreed on your point, but I’ve got my eye mostly on the linebacker battle – I feel like most of us do.

Meredith: It all kicks off in just less than 28 hours. I’m so excited. What a great way to celebrate my birthday.

Don: Ha. That’s right. Happy Birthday — be sure to have a celebratory drink while watching the live blogs of the action at Oxnard.

Meredith: Thanks, dude. Talk soon.