Letters to Mr. Jones #1: "Congrats on a good start to the offseason, but..."

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Letters to Mr. Jones #1:

Dear Jerry Jones,

This is the first of a few open letters I intend to write to you on the subject of the Cowboys offseason. I've chosen this public format with no disrespect meant to you, but as an acknowledgement that no NFL owner is really going to read a private letter from a fan, so I am putting them out in public.

Plus by writing these in a public forum other fans can weigh in with their two cents on your work in the comments section.

Putting these out there on Bleacher Report ensures reproduction in a variety of media outlets and frankly probably increases the odds that you or someone with the Cowboys might come across them and read them out of morbid curiosity.  Hopefully they decide the letters are worth their time and perhaps bring my views and my readers' views to your attention.

 

First an introduction

I am a long-time Dallas Cowboys fan.  I discovered football through the magic of Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett and the 70's Cowboys.  Watching them Staubach carve up the 3-4 "Orange Crush" scheme and the more physical 4-3 "Doomsday Defense" stuff the Denver offense in Superbowl XII not only made me a Cowboys fan for life, it also made a very clear impression on me and has been a core part of my understanding of the game. (When the teams are fairly close in talent, the more physical teams usually win.)

Like you and all other Cowboys fans, I am frustrated we are not winning playoff games. I am also worried that Dallas tends to have solid to good offseasons followed by awful ones.  I am worried about this offseason.

 

These letters won't only have my opinions.  I read a lot and am a sports radio junkie.  Plus, I have a solicited a few hard-core fans of other NFL teams whose insights and opinions are really insightful that I hope to share with you too.

Some Cowboys fans feel you usurp power from your employees by being the owner and GM, and as such, the Cowboys will never win a Super Bowl with you in that position.  In that way, some resent you for harming "their team."  I understand it, but I don't feel that way.

I have owned a business. A good owner listens to other people's opinions and weighs them fairly against their own (perhaps unjustified) preconceptions, but no good owner implements everything a critic says. That happens to piss off a lot of critics.

Asking you to be a silent owner who just writes checks is insulting to anyone. And it is drilling a dry well.  You have put a large chunk of your money into making the Cowboys the best team they could be.  In poker terms, you are all in.  You should have a say in anything you want with this team.  It is not the role of a fan or customer to dictate you should not.

I personally am glad to have such a committed owner.  It is not like you aren't trying.  We could have a Donald Sterling (an owner with no commitment), a Tom Hicks (an moderate owner who ultimately had too many irons in too many fires) or a Michael Jordan (an arrogant fool with no eye for talent who surrounds himself with yes men rather than competent employees).

Some Cowboys fans think you are a Jordan-type owner, but honestly they aren't weighing the work of your staff fairly.  This has been an average team for the last decade or so.  Even your drafts—the source of much criticism from Dallas fans—are better than they look. A lot of the players you draft that don't make the team end up getting picked up by other teams, and even having productive careers elsewhere.  That suggests your draft personnel actually do a pretty solid job of recommending players to you.

 

Jordan would have to sell his soul to sniff average.

Cowboys fans sometimes don't give you the credit you deserve.  I am a minority opinion, but I think you and your staff do most things very well.

The problem I see is a lack of consistency.  You are prone to a bad offseason that wipes out two years of progress. And there are some other things that appear to have your fingerprints on them that cut your progress in your good years.

That is pretty much far for the course with one person filling the role of both owner and the GM. You are, after all, doing two jobs.  You are twice as likely to be seen a hurdle to progress.  It is a tough job you are doing.

I appreciate all the money, blood, sweat and tears you have put into this team. As a fan of you personally, I want to see you win a Super Bowl on your terms and hand this team off to your son with a huge smile on your face as your detractors eat a decade plus of crow.  But I think you will have to work with awareness of some of your historical problem areas to get there.

So I am writing these letters to try and point out the kinds of negative things you do that I see that sink all the good work you do.

These letters won't be vicious, but they will be very critical.  Again, my goal is not to tell you what to do. I'll suggest things and make a case for them, but it is just that.  Take it or leave it. My goal is to help you recognize and eliminate the mistakes that undercut Dallas's progress.

 

Let's Get Critical

 

One of my friends (let's refer to him as "Saints Fan No. 1" or "SF1" from here on out) made the case for the fans who want to see you step down.  His argument went as such:

"If a team misses the playoffs for three-straight years, you fire the coach.  If a team misses the playoffs for six-straight years, you fire the GM.  In Dallas you can't fire the GM and that is why the team will never win."

Ouch.  And that is coming from a Saints fan. (On a side note: I remember the "Aints" of the 1970's who had never had a winning season.  He is 10 years younger and his memories of the Saints dates from the Jim Mora era forward—with a winning percentage that rivals the best in the league.)

It is a stinging criticism today because there are a lot of not just good, but great GMs with proven track records out there. To pass them over is an ego thing, and that is fine.

You can win a Super Bowl without an elite GM.

But your GM work has to at least be consistently solid in order for this to not be your ego selling you out.

You just don't have that consistency. Maybe with a good set of personal rules you could have it.

You have been good, even very good at the GM job some years, but then you have followed it up by being really bad at the GM or owner's job in subsequent years, erasing all of that progress.

 

I am not one of those fans who thinks this team cannot win a title or even get back to a Super Bowl with you as the owner. The Raiders reached a Super Bowl a few years back with far more of a destructively meddling owner (at that point) in the late Al Davis. They had a good team and a no-nonsense coach.

If you can get to the Super Bowl, the season is a one-game series.

Dallas has the makings of a good team and Jason Garrett appears to be a no-nonsense coach who demands accountability from his players.  Garrett seems to have your ear and back and vice versa, which frankly has always been an issue in Dallas under your ownership. If Garrett wants to cut someone for laziness, you showed last year you will (perhaps grudgingly) cut that player. He works well with you. A coach like Garrett makes you a better owner/GM.

Players and coaches win the games. Hands-on owners may keep a team on top (Eddie DeBartalo Jr. or early Al Davis) or out of the playoffs long term (Al Davis at the end), but in any given year any of a number of teams can catch fire and make a Super Bowl run in today's NFL.

Look at the Packers run to win Super Bowl XLV in the season they were considered to be lacking depth, defense and to be far too young.  They were thought to be two-three years away from challenging for the title.  Then Aaron Rogers caught fire and ran though the postseason.  That hot-team scenario is more the norm today than the exception.

It is not inconceivable that Tony Romo, in spite of his issues, could have a similar run of timely unconscious play.

 

Parity rules the day and owners do not stop players from making a run.

But you have to make the playoffs (and probably on a fairly consistent basis) for that to occur.  The odds are very much against you if you can't deliver consistent, solid GM work from year to year.

There are a lot of different reasons this team has crumbled each time it appeared to be heading in the right direction over the last 15 years. Most of them involved you in a fairly direct way as either the owner or as the GM.

I think what you can take out of it is a compelling argument that you, Jerry Jones the GM, have sunk Jerry Jones the owner each time you have had a bad offseason.  (And Jerry the owner is not off the hook either!)

You will always be one step away from being that bad, overconfident GM.  

You will always have the potential to get full of yourself on draft day and blow an entire draft swinging for the fence on high-risk talents in the first three rounds, drafting backups because you have too much faith in the talent here, trading away top picks for a deep threat who won't pan out as a No. 1 receiver in Dallas or picking guys who cannot figure out how to play in this scheme.

You are always at risk to undercut your coaches because you are too close to your quarterbacks.  Or you blow a load of money on a glamorous free agent you have fallen in love with who isn't a game changer when you have tons of other holes that need to be filled.  Or you throw money at a flash-in-the-pan player on the roster.

 

As such, you have to be aware of the issues that sink you. I'll try to cover them all in these letters.

 

Let's Talk About This Offseason So Far

It's been a very good offseason so far.  You and your coaching staff are seeing the problems and trying to fix them. While detractors can fairly point out that Dallas has far more holes than most teams in the division, the team has made some good decisions and is thinking outside of the box.

1) Bringing in an offensive coordinator (sort of).

2) Moving to retain Anthony Spencer.

3) Garret is looking at a possible return to the 4-3 set defensively (although you are not).

 

Hiring Bill Callahan Was a Great Move

I thought you let your baggage undercut Jason Garrett last year.  When Wade was the coach you insisted he coach the defense.  Almost no owners in the NFL undercut their coach by making him do a coordinator job at the same time.

When you hired Garrett, it read of wanting to deflect charges of favoritism and of being unfair to Coach Wilson to insist Garrett also be the offensive coordinator.  (I think this also hurts the team as Garrett and Romo are too close.  Romo plays better with someone demanding accountability from him, be it the media or a coach.  You robbed Garrett of the ability to bring in someone who will demand the best of Romo.)

 

That is actually the positive spin on things. A more pessimistic view is that the head coach as coordinator business is just your Parcells baggage.  You got tired of seeing Parcells, your head coach, have such a heavy impact in everything in the personnel area that you enjoy doing, that you have essentially "created busywork" for your head coaches since to keep them from bothering you.

There is a reason other teams do not force their head coach to be a coordinator and we saw it last year. Garrett melted down at the end of close games doing both jobs last year.  There is no shame in that.  As I said, there is a reason most teams don't do this.

The problem is that, like with Chan Gailey, your baggage may have undercut your coach in a lasting way.

Since he took the reigns Garrett has been all about restoring personal accountability.  But how accountable did Garrett seem in accepting the blame for those late-game meltdowns?

Garrett is an inexperienced young head coach who was under ridiculous pressure.  He vapor locked late in the games and didn't handle the questions after the games in the right way.

Garrett looked like the real deal up to that point, but now his players may see him as a bit of a paper tiger. It's all because of a situation you created.

Really, the guy needed an offensive coordinator to handle the day-to-day and play-to-play minutia.  He needed someone to free him up to develop the skillset to look at the game as it is progressing like a head coach.

 

I thought a guy like Norv Turner (if the Chargers fired him) or Tony Sparano could be good fits in that role given their Cowboys history.  Turner as he is good with QBs as an OC and Sparano because he would provide the spur that Romo has at times needed.

Callahan was not someone I had considered, but on paper it looks like a very good hire.  He has head coaching experience and can help Garrett with his end of game mismanagement weaknesses.  He filled a similar role for John Gruden. He has no ties to Romo, so he could demand some accountability when Romo invariably relapses into "duck and chuck."

Additionally, Callahan replaces Hudson Houck.  Houck was a solid offensive line coach, but much of the criticism of Houck said that he did better extracting good play out of above-average veteran linemen. (That would certainly make sense out of what we have seen recently.) The Cowboys don't have many of those.  Callahan, on the other hand, is good with young linemen.

While I am not a fan of coaches having multiple jobs on a staff, I think it makes a ton more sense to have an offensive coordinator/ offensive line coach than a head coach/offensive coordinator.

To me, that is an insightful, good move.  (On paper anyway. You never know until the season starts.)

 

The Potential Re-signing of Anthony Spencer

Anthony Spencer had a solid first-round grade when you drafted him.  He was a 4-3 defensive end in college.  You insisted he transition to a 3-4 pro OLB.

 

He has done that.  He is very solid versus the run and has had three consistent, decent pass rushing seasons for a team that cannot cover anyone and lacks interior pressure (six, five and six sacks the last three years).  He has been Dallas' second-best pass rusher by a good margin and frankly when you sit and think about it, is probably Dallas' third to fifth best defensive player.

Fans may want this guy off the team because he isn't all all-pro, but they need a little perspective. He isn't used exactly like Ware. If you want to send Ware rushing the passer as often as possible, you have to be able to drop Spencer into space fairly frequently.  Spencer can do that.  He is not an good cover guy, but what 3-4 OLB is? He can be a contain guy. He is generally effective enough in space to be used that way and combined with his pass rush allows the team to play the 3-4 that you love.

You've said as much recently to Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seemingly set the stage for Spencer's return during the NFL Scouting Combine when he praised his play and blamed his poor sack numbers on how he was being used.
 
Jones said Spencer would have had more sacks if he was allowed to rush the passer more, which would be part of the team's game plan if he returns next season.

"He's your edge guy," Jones said. "He plays differently by design than Ware. Let's say he's a set-your-edge [player] and Ware is more free to go. Now the fact that Ware draws the chip, draws the block, the double team, then that should make Spencer have an edge.

"Let's not say Spencer, but name another top pass rusher in the league and if you had them at both ends, you would play them differently than we would Spencer. If we end up changing that, then you will see Spencer with better sack numbers, not necessarily at the expense of Ware, but just by doing it differently." 

 

Spencer is not a bust like some cowboys fans want to argue.  He is an above-average starter and is solidly worth the first-round pick Dallas invested in him. (Come on people, he was the 26th pick in the draft!  You could do much, much worse than that at 26th.)  In the free agent market, there is talk he might have earned $7 million or more from another team.

Dallas has let a lot of picks from the top three rounds go in the last 15 years.  Unless you are replacing that talent with similar talents, you are essentially reducing your talent level each time you let those guys go.  (I am not going to dwell on this too much here as it is the subject of the next letter about trouble areas I see in Dallas with draft philosophy, free agency and amassing talent.)

I think in general it is foolish to let go good starters you can count on if their salary demands are reasonable.  Spencer's do not seem unreasonable.  It appears you are using the franchise tag because Dallas may not want to commit to him long term and you don't think Victor Butler can do the job.

I would argue that it sends a positive message to re-sign a hard working, solid starter your team drafted to a longer deal.  Plus, a long-term deal works better better for the cap for this team today when Romo is in his prime.

I get that if you let Spencer go, you will just have to spend more money to replace him or burn a firs-round pick to do it.  That amounts to treading water.

I would argue that it makes more sense to try to lock him into a four-year deal if you can get reasonable terms. Four years at $26 million, I think would be about right.  That could turn him into a $5 million or so hit on the front end out of your $20 million war chest.  That leaves enough room for potentially two very good free agent adds.  From what I have read you appear to be going in that general direction.

 

Given their backgrounds, Spencer and Demarcus Ware could easily slot to pass rushing 4-3 defensive ends if you go that way, so there is no reason not to make the commitment.  They physically compare well to what Indy has thrown out the past few years.

Spencer is 6'4" and big enough.  He could likely add another five-15 pounds if he felt he needed it to be more of an every down strong side DE in a 4-3 set.  In a worst case scenario, he could split time with a Jason Hatcher, with Spencer playing maybe 30 plays a game on passing downs.

Another good move in my opinion. 

 

Finally, a Return to the 4-3?

I was thrilled to hear that Garrett and his staff were toying with a return to the 4-3 as their base set instead of just toying with a four man front on passing downs.  I was disappointed to hear that you are still advocating the perceived advantages of the 3-4 as drilled into your head by Bill Parcells and will draft with that in mind.

I would guess that is why Garrett and company are only toying with the idea.

The argument that the Cowboys should return to a 4-3 is a well-worn one on Bleacher Report.

I think this is an area where you really need to consider the impact your thinking is having on this team.

I think in general there are 3-4 guys and 4-3 guys.   Now there are some coaches like Rob Ryan who are very creative and do not overwhelmingly favor any one set (3-4, 4-3, or his father's 46), but those guys are few and far between.

 

Former Cowboys and current Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is a great example of a 4-3 advocate.  He was such a great defensive coordinator coaching the 4-3 scheme, that he was apparently earmarked as "the next" Cowboys head coach. Then 3-4 advocate Parcells convinced you to gut the defense and move to the 3-4. Zimmer couldn't coach a 3-4 to save his life. (It should be noted, the move also destroyed Roy Williams as an NFL force.)

Zimmer got run out of town along with six-time Pro Bowl DT La'Roi Glover, and Dallas yards per carry allowed and interior pressure has been just average ever since. Dallas gave up 3.5 yards per carry in 2003 in a 4-3 under Zimmer.  You haven't come anywhere near that since.

Zimmer has done great things in Atlanta and Cincinnati directing 4-3 sets.

Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer won three Super Bowls combined running a 4-3.  Not only did Tom Landry go to five Super Bowls and win two running the 4-3, he invented the darned defense!

Both Super Bowl teams this year played a 4-3 set.

It should be noted that one of those teams was the New England Patriots, headed by Bill Belichik, a 3-4 guy who insisted there was nothing much to note behind the fact his team switched to a 4-3 and improved.   He droned on about how there is little substantive difference between the 3-4 and 4-3 sets. So why did he change his defense, if not to take better advantage of his personnel? And why did they get better?

The Cowboys have won just one playoff game since adopting the 3-4.

Cowboy fans in general are 4-3 guys and a lot of us have an emotional investment into it. You ramming the 3-4 at that kind of fan with marginal results cuts how much slack that cross section of Cowboys fandom gives you. It is a bad PR move.

 

Almost every player on this defense played in a 4-3 set in college.  Jason Garrett played on 4-3 teams in Dallas.  I would guess that most of your key personnel in your scouting department are 4-3 guys.

Really everything on your team points to the fact it should utilize a 4-3 set, except your insistence on how much more you can do scheme-wise in a 3-4.

The most honest comment one can say its that there are trade-offs with both defenses.

Although the X's and O's don't look that different and 3-4 advocates will argue there is no difference, the utilization of personnel usually is quite different and matters a great deal to 4-3 players and advocates.

I think the arguments by 3-4 advocates are with respect, either knowingly disingenuous or skewed by a love of the 3-4.

If they were practically identical, then why couldn't the Cowboys just slot Spencer as a 4-3 OLB? One of the major arguments against the 4-3 is that you don't have enough LBs who could survive in that system.  

There is a reason why Jason Jones doesn't want to play play a 3-4 end in Tennessee. DTs are often deployed heads up on a DT or sometimes on their inside shoulder.  3-4 DEs usually play on the outside shoulder of a tackle or end, giving the offensive players better angles.  DT can more easily take their opponent either way and are effectively one step closer to the QB, helping minimizing speed issues.  Those minor differences can make a 4-3 defensive tackle who delivers solid pressure, like Jones, into a marginal 3-4 end.

 

The 4-3 is a much better set for rushing the passer and stopping the run, but it is somewhat predictable.  The 3-4 set is much more flexible, but it tends to be a soft defense versus the run and it creates a natural bulge right in front of the nose tackle, which is why most 3-4 teams look for a heavy lump to drop in at the nose position.

You can't sacrifice all interior pressure by replacing Ratliff with a lump. Likewise it is very debatable whether Ratliff has the foot speed to close rushing from a 3-4 end spot or if he would be as effective working outside in versus having the freedom to go either way with his man.  He is disruptive as heck close in.

With Ratliff at the nose, the Cowboys will be a soft team. The team will be about building a big lead on offense and hopefully opponents feeling they have to pass to win.

It is likely the Cowboys aren't going to be able to able to stuff teams consistently running the 3-4.  All you are doing by digging your heels in is making your personnel department look much worse than they are.

Let's look at the most glaring examples of your personnel being ill-suited for the 3-4.

Demarcus Ware is one of the top five pass rushers in the league and that statement isn't giving him his due.  While I concede he is usually coming upfield, what sense does it make to have him potentially in space on some passing downs? He has one interception in his seven-year career versus 99.5 sacks.  If he was a 4-3 DE he would be rushing the passer every time they went back to pass.

What logic overrides that?

 

Would Spencer be a better pass rusher if all he did was rush the passer?  Again, the answer is probably yes.  More time working on pass rush technique and less on linebacker skills would probably deliver a more consistent player.  More plays as exclusively a pass rusher would too.

You admitted the scheme takes away from his pass rushing.  The 4-3 would not.

Fans forget Spencer is asked to do a lot more in space than Ware.

Jay Ratliff got pushed around a lot last year and only had two sacks.  He seemed to lack the gas to finish.  Was that age catching up to him, his lack of size at NT or the strike messing with his offseason routine?

If you are going to start an undersized NT, he sure better be a strong pass rusher because he will kill you versus the run.  There is fan talk of moving Ratliff to DE, but would he really fit there? Interior pass rushing skills are quite a bit different than on the outside.

Jay Ratliff would not be all that undersized in a 4-3 scheme at DT.  He'd take a lot less wear.

You are essentially relying on a single player (and an aging one) for all of your interior pressure.  That doesn't seem likely to deliver the results you want long term.

How about Sean Lissemore, Victor Butler, and Marcus Spears?  Lissemore showed a pretty good motor, but he is much more of a 4-3 DT than an NFL 3-4 NT.  Butler is a pass rush specialist in that he is an undersized 4-3 DE trying to be a competent 3-4 OLB.  He could be quite an asset in the 46.

 

Spears is the one that makes me cringe. This guy's career has been wasted here. He was a 4-3 DE at LSU who they used to drop into coverage because he was a natural athlete.  He has flunked the NFL 3-4 DE test.

He weighed 307 coming out and has bulked up to 315 for the 3-4. In today's NFL most DEs are in the 250-275 range, because you don't have the speed or change of direction to finish a pass rush at 300-plus pounds. Spears IMO never really had it in the first place.

The guy wasn't an elite pass rusher in college.  He had a total of 15 sacks in his last two years at a school loaded with talent.  But because he could effectively drop into coverage, scout interpreted his athleticism as a sign that he would develop into an elite rusher in the NFL.

Go back and read his scouting reports from when he came out.  "Keeps his pads low." "Can generate a bull rush."

That sounds like a DT prospect to me.  If Dallas were to play Spears at the DT spot on passing downs that would give the opposing centers more help responsibilities to deal with instead of just Ratliff. This team would be a lot more successful at collapsing the pocket and flushing the QB into the strength of the defense—Ware and Spencer.

Spears would likely never be a great finisher on the pass rush, but in that role could make all three of your DL stars better.  A strong bull rush inside would create angles for Ratliff and would feed QBs to Ware and Spencer.

Giving Spears an extra step and more freedom in his pass rush choices could turn him into a much more productive player versus the pass and could help versus the run.

 

If you can extract value from Spears, fans have less to complain about in draft critiques.  Anything that takes the focus off what you are doing, reduces distractions for your players.

And there is an argument that of the four if you want to sneak anyone back into space from time to time, Spears would make the most sense.  He showed a knack for it in college.  He has good timing and surprisingly good hands.

Then there is the run defense. Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent in the rotation at DT in on some of running downs would be much better versus the run than the 3-4 and would keep Spears and Ratliff fresh.  You'd be able to get your young guys some playing time to see what you have.

Plus the 4-3 set is a more basic defense. It allows you to get your young players on the field quicker.

The 3-4 has appeared to play a role in screwing you in evaluating talent at LB.

Why is Jason Williams getting playing time in Carolina's 4-3 instead of playing in Dallas? Why is Kevin Burnett starting in Miami? Bruce Carter could play right away in a 4-3, no questions asked, but he could only earn spot time in the 3-4 last season.  Heck even Bill Parcell's homey hookup draft pick Bobby Carpenter was a 4-3 OLB in college and is now backing up in a 4-3 scheme in Detroit!

If you look at the talent on hand there are holes regardless of scheme, but it does look like the best talents on defense fit better in a 4-3 or 46 scheme.

Bill Parcells has sold you on his vision of the 3-4 as the best scheme.  Well Bill Parcells had two Hall of Fame linebackers and a Pro-Bowler playing his 3-4 when he fell in love with it.  Lawrence Taylor was the No. 2 pick in his draft, Carl Banks was the No. 3 pick in his draft and Harry Carson was a heck of a fourth-round find.

 

Your organization is never going to be bad enough to get the No. 2 and No. 3 picks in the draft in a four-year period.  Even your staunchest critics acknowledge that your support staff and your commitment to the team will not allow that.

The 3-4 is an OK system if you sell out to stock it with elite players. Mr. Jones, you have to acknowledge who you are.  As an owner who has to sell tickets, you are always going to be an offensive minded guy first.  You pay the offense first and invest your picks there first.  A top notch 3-4 defense, that can shut down the run, powered by elite players probably isn't going to happen here, so why not be a little more open minded?

The 3-4 trades out size for a better ability to confuse QBs.  That demands more focus and fire from the players for the defense not to be soft versus the run.  If you have elite players who are leaders like the Giants did, and/or evaluate talent consistently at an exceptional level like Baltimore or Pittsburgh have had over the years, you can overcome the softness inherent in the system. If those areas are lacking, you can cover your weaknesses far better in a 4-3.

You just don't have what you need to consistently be good in a 3-4.  Ware is your best player. 

Warren Sapp called it like it is when it comes to Ware. “He’s a lovely, nice guy....He’s an absolute monster. But he’s not going to lead a pack of ants to a picnic in his own back yard. That’s just what it is. He’s just not the leader.”

That kind of leadership isn't required as much in the 4-3 because you aren't compensating for a weakness in the scheme.  In a 4-3, you can plug Lee in at MLB and he can provide enough of the leadership needed for now, until some other leaders emerge.

 

When the 3-4 in Dallas has been above average has Dallas been able to shut down opposing offenses when push has come to shove? No.

If you can't shut someone down when you need to then statistics be damned, you aren't a good defensive team.

It this team cannot be a good defensive team after eight years of trying the 3-4, doesn't that suggest internal factors constantly working against it?

Moving to a 3-4 cost you talent and continues to do so.  Some say changing schemes is a two-year process. In Dallas' case, it appears that moving to a 4-3 would not cost you any talent at all.

With respect, your Parcells-fuelled love fest with the 3-4 appears to be setting back your organization in 5-6 different ways. If your coaches are talking publicly about considering the 4-3 as a base set, you should seriously consider if your stance is being a bottleneck on their efforts to succeed.

Frankly going to a 4-3 protects you.

 

The Long-Term View

I think you are letting your 3-4 crush overshadow the bigger picture.

What if Jason Garrett cannot get this team into the playoffs? What if they can't make the 3-4 work? What if you have either fatally undercut him ala Chan Gailey or he just can't do the job? As much as you like working with him, can you really continue to have him as your head coach with with three-straight playoff misses with Tony Romo in his prime?

 

Who do you hire as his replacement?  If the Cowboys can't make the playoffs, it will either be due to injuries to QB Tony Romo, FB Tony Fiametta, or RB Demarco Murray or more likely due to the defense not getting it done.  If the defense can't get it done, is Rob Ryan really deserving of a shot?

It it comes to it, can you work with Ryan like you can Garrett?  Will he chafe as you do your thing? That kind of  friction between you and your head coach is non-productive and as you well know can be a distraction for the team.  Who can be a no-nonsense head coach and work with you in harmony?

To me, the guy who jumps out as the best replacement candidate if Garrett can't do the job is Zimmer.  The guy seemed absolutely heartbroken when Parcells ran him out of town. He is a coach's son, is no-nonsense and appeared to have a great relationship with you before Parcells got in the way. And he is a 4-3 coach.

You signing off on a return to the 4-3 gives Garrett permission for what he may feel is his best shot.  It also makes the job more appealing for your best replacement candidate if Garrett can't.

You put yourself into a win-win situation by allowing the move back to a 4-3.

All I can ask as a fan is that you think about it.

If you did happen to come across this and read it, I thank you for your time.

Sincerely, 

Tobi

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