The NFL offseason is all about preparing for the coming campaign. You pay attention to last season, but only to a degree. What happened in 2015 only matters if it helps you prepare for 2016.
No matter whom you inquire with at Valley Ranch as to precisely where Dallas is in regards to preparation for 2016 you will get variations on the standard Jason Garret mantra – “It’s A Process.” This may be frustrating, but it’s a factual response.
As a quick aside, it’s also a great sign that everyone at Valley Ranch is on board with “The Process.” Regardless of which scheme, method of attack or annual motto a team chooses to follow, it will always be more successful if everyone is dipping their oars into the water on the same drumbeat. This is the case with the Cowboys.
A man of great detail and painstaking preparation, Garrett doesn’t waste a minute once the final whistle blows. It’s no secret by now how Garrett drives the bus in the offseason. He has a multi-pronged approach.
- Assess previous season’s team and performance
- Assess league and next seasons opponents
- Consider and implement changes to current Cowboys templates
- Continue 24/7 365 talent assessment effort on all levels
- Identify Dallas free agents worth second contracts
- Identify and sign talented free agents with upside that haven’t reached potential
- Sign players to fill out roster allowing draft to occur without regard to need as much as possible
- Create board based on “Cowboy template BPA”
All wonderfully revealing data. Injuries be damned, last year “The Process” came up short in several key areas. Perhaps even worse Dallas wasn’t surprised as they had talked about addressing these known issues all offseason.
Whereas the Cowboys personnel department has received deserved kudos over recent years for it’s ability to identify and sign talent, it’s not for every position. There is no doubt a great job was done in identifying offensive line talent in the draft and in procuring defensive linemen off the street that can compete in the NFL.
What about identifying and signing talent at other key positions?
The critical RB position wasn’t settled in any fashion until six games into the season. McFadden was an excellent signing. Relying (again) on a fragile Dunbar was a miss. Not getting a RB in the draft was a miss. Joseph Randle was a miss in every sense of the word. Ben Malena – Miss. Christine Michael – miss. Robert Turbin – Miss. Ryan Williams – Miss. Rod Smith – UNK. Those are the ones off the top of my head.
The scouting department and coaches all share the blame here. They should have identified McFadden much earlier as their best option. They should have procured better players. Supposedly it’s now “easy money” to get a RB in the draft or in free agency. Hmmmmmm.
The ability of the DL to create pressure without DeMarcus Ware via Kraken was a PR and production nightmare. Don’t even get me started on the interior run D and the 1-Tech position. I love the young talent on the line. DeMarcus Lawrence is exciting. David Irving was a total find. Tyrone Crawford should have a bounce back season. Randy Gregory is doing his part to legalize marijuana and …. and .. and … well there’s the rub. Four guys worth mentioning from 2015. Two of them are even starters. Contain your excitement.
It’s great to be able to get guys off the street that can play in the NFL. What the Cowboys need now however are guys who are elite. They are stocked with rotation guys.
I knew Brandon Weeden was not a solid option at QB. My wife’s hairdresser knew. They should have known as well. Pass after off target pass in camp once you got away from seven on air drills don’t lie. I mentioned it repeatedly in camp reports and podcast. Beautiful balls. Nice tight spirals. Overthrown. Too far outside. Too far inside. Swing and a miss to borrow Weeden’s former professions parlance.
Dallas has chosen not to develop QB’s or a QB department in the Tony Romo era. Jerry Jones has iterated more than once that having to give practice and preseason snaps to players who don’t make it as QB’s was a bad return on player time and therefore a bad investment. It was a mistake years ago. It’s a mistake now and yet another failed example of high finance rules applied as if it were actual football acumen. Will McClay’s influence can’t expand fast enough.
Linebacker play outside of Sean Lee was not good last year and of course, Lee was (again) unable to deliver 16 games. McClain was out of shape until late in the year after missing the first four games under suspension. Gachkar was too small to hold up in the middle. Hitchens is a 1/2 step slow to the outside. Damien Wilson and Mark Nzeocha had invisible jerseys on the entire year. This patchwork unit needs some players that can excel and stay on the field. I get it the guys they have targeted have been snapped up right before they pick. Time to get the job done fellas.
Safety/Cornerback – Why not lump them together. Round the clock scouting, high draft choices, mid draft choices, low round choices, expensive free agent signings, UDFA’s and psychics have all been used to identify and acquire “talent” at the DB position for the Cowboys. Fail is the polite term. At least they finally moved on from the CB coach. The same one that excelled before he got to Dallas. Had to be his fault, right? #ComeOnMan
“The Process” correctly identified areas of concern last year. They were talked about. They were spot on. The consistent inability to identify and acquire (you need both) upgrades at the positions of need identified by your own process is the Dallas Cowboys 2015 season in a nutshell.
— rabblerousr (@rabblerousr) March 12, 2016
The Dallas Cowboys need to step it up in the strategy department. They seemingly know what to do and I am encouraged by some moves made this offseason, the recent upgrade at 1-Tech a prime example.
To be clear, I was fully on board when Dallas didn’t break the bank to sign Murray. I understand the need to let Ware walk under the fiscal situation they found themselves in (who got them so tight against the cap again?). The new fiscal restraint policies follow historically successful teams trends. I also acknowledge the consistent failure of successfully addressing critical personnel needs.
I see moves in the right direction. Great. I have seen such direction each offseason. Now enough with the baby steps. Time for leaps and bounds. Time to tweak “The Process” and get the job done.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over