Dallas Cowboys: Five Moves Jerry Jones Must Make Before the 2013 Season
It may be time to look forward to next season.
There is a truth that we fail to recognize in seasons like this. That truth is that the Dallas Cowboys are a mediocre and inconsistent football team.
Things are scary and we as fans have to realize that there comes a time when a team needs to refocus and plan for next season. I have developed a guideline for Jerry Jones between now and the 2013 season. This guideline would help the Cowboys expedite their trip back to the top of the NFC East.
Check it out.
Switch to a 4-3 Base Defense
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images
I get what was happening with the 3-4 defense in Dallas. Truly, I do. However, that doesn’t make it the right defensive scheme for this team.
Sometime in the early 2000’s the 3-4 became prominent in the NFL as the best defensive scheme.
Unfortunately, the 3-4 defense hasn’t been as kind to the Dallas Cowboys as it has been other teams.
I propose that it’s time for the Cowboys to switch back to the 4-3 defense.
The 4-3 defense is a defensive scheme that is considered to be the best run-stopping defensive scheme. It is named by its ratio of defensive lineman (4) to linebackers (3).
I believe the Cowboys' personnel fits the 4-3 better than it does the 3-4.
The Cowboys' current defensive line isn’t big enough to serve the purpose they need to in the 3-4. They are fast pass-rushers who are asked to take on multiple blockers at once. If you could get Jason Hatcher, Tyrone Crawford, and Kenyon Coleman in a 4-3 scheme I believe they would be significantly more productive.
Another thing to consider is economics. The Cowboys are looking at letting Anthony Spencer go. It would be rather expensive to re-sign him or even supplement his value in the 3-4 defense as a run-stopping outside linebacker.
If the Cowboys were to switch to the 4-3 they could move Bruce Carter to outside linebacker opposite DeMarcus Ware and gain better production at the position than they had with Anthony Spencer because of Carters athleticism.
Ideally the Cowboys' 4-3 base in 2013 could look like this:
Left End: Jason Hatcher
Defensive Tackles: Jay Ratliff, Sean Lissemore
Right End: Tyrone Crawford
Strongside Linebacker: Bruce Carter
Middle Linebacker: Sean Lee
Weakside Linebacker: DeMarcus Ware
Cornerbacks: Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr
Safeties: *Draft Pick/Free Agent, Gerald Sensabaugh
That would be a really solid unit.
Sign an Offensive Lineman and Defensive End
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
If Jerry Jones is serious about rebuilding this team he needs to make smart football moves.
The problem with the Cowboys hasn’t been assembling talent; it’s been assembling a team.
Everyone knows the Cowboys are going to spend their money. Instead of going flashy the Cowboys need to find young players that can contribute immediately but still have more potential in their game.
An offensive lineman and defensive end would be a good start.
Available after this season (not considering any future extension) is Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Clady. Clady is 26 years old and a tremendous blocker. Signing Clady would give the Cowboys a young solid tackle to pair with Tyron Smith and would also allow Doug Free to move into guard where I anticipate he’d play substantially better.
At defensive end, the Cowboys should make a strong run at 26-year-old Cliff Avril. If the Cowboys switch to the 4-3 defense, like I think they should, then Avril becomes a perfect fit opposite Jason Hatcher. Avril has been outstanding these past two years and could make the Cowboys' defensive line significantly better in 2013.
These two signings would be expensive but I believe that Jerry could make the numbers work. If they do they have alleviated two very significant needs by adding young players who are already very productive.
Get a Quarterback of the Future
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
There is no middle ground. You either support Tony Romo or want him gone.
Despite what side you’re on there is no denying that Romo is getting older and hasn’t offered any real promise of success.
This draft has a very good quarterback class. Guys like Geno Smith and Tyler Wilson should be starting to intrigue Jerry Jones as the team’s 2012 outlook is becoming considerably bleak.
The Cowboys have ignored the quarterback of the future temptation for quite some time. It’s now or never for a struggling franchise that sorely needs a new identity.
Tyler Wilson is a dynamic pocket-passer who has tremendous NFL ability. He throws accurate passes with excellent zip and could come in immediately and be productive in this offense.
Geno Smith is a dual-threat quarterback who has an advanced pocket presence when compared to other such prospects. He reminds me of a more accurate Cam Newton.
If the Cowboys end up with a top-10 draft pick then I think one of these two players warrants considerable thought. If not, the Cowboys are likely to stick with Romo and ignore the fact that they need to rebuild a consistently mediocre team.
Draft a Safety
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Since the retirement of Darren Woodson, the Cowboys have struggled to find a legitimate safety. Fans have hoped and dreamed the Cowboys would spend a high draft pick on a ball-hawking safety for quite some time to only be met with disappointed.
Well Cowboys fans… THIS IS OUR YEAR!
The 2013 draft class offers a considerably deep safety class. Ideally, you’d like a guy like LSU safety Eric Reid to fall into Dallas' lap, but with the possibility of the first-round pick being quarterback, O-line, or D-line expect that safety will likely fall to Day 2.
The good news is that Eric Reid may be the best safety but he isn’t the only one that has superstar ability.
If Reid does fall expect the Cowboys to nab him in the second round. However, most Cowboys fans will be familiar with Kenny Vaccaro. Vaccaro is the second-best option if Reid isn’t available. Most likely to be available in the second round, Vaccaro is a balanced safety who is a playmaker.
Vaccaro has the range and speed to be a ball hawk while maintaining the instincts and pursuit to be tough against the run. At 6’1” and 215 lbs he has great size and runs a sub-4.5 40-yard dash.
Option one is Reid but Vaccaro is a very close option two. Either player could be a superstar for a Cowboys team that has lacked stars at the position for seven years.
Extend Jason Garrett
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
This is likely where you guys close out the article.
I get it. Jason Garrett is rightfully pissing everyone off. He hasn’t displayed a real keen ability for coaching or play-calling for that matter. Additionally, he isn’t exactly the best game manager.
Garrett is an inexperienced head coach who is still learning on the job. He is a smart football mind who has been tasked with erasing the Wade Phillips philosophy and implement his own.
Garrett has done some really great things with the organization. He has re-implemented dress codes, behavior policies, and has tried to keep players accountable through discipline.
He can only do so much. He can’t play the game for the players.
Garrett deserves the time to learn. He didn’t inherit a great team, just a team with good talent. They are two different things. Garrett is still implementing his system and it takes more than two seasons to do that.
If Jerry Jones is serious about sticking with Jason Garrett then he needs to extend him now to erase any doubt or fear in Garrett’s mind.
After all, how many of us can really focus on doing our jobs when we think we’re about to be fired?