The Dallas Cowboys can arguably be considered the most storied franchise in all of sports. Conversely, the way they are structured also might make them the most unique franchise. While Jerry Jones considers the way they are structured to be their biggest strength, it's ultimately turned out to be their biggest enemy.
Jerry Jones wears too many hats to the detriment of this team. It's not to say that the entire front office has been completely ineffective, but it's hard to overlook the on-field results in relation to the construction of this roster. Every organization has a blueprint for building their respective rosters, but I often wonder if the Cowboys have a clear and defined philosophy.
The Cowboys are never short on star power or having a talented roster, but it's been no secret that Jones becomes enamored with certain players and never shys away from pursuing flashy ones at the most high-profile positions. It's been evident in his decisions to sign Terrell Owens, Deion Sanders and Pacman Jones and his drafting of Dez Bryant.
While this type of strategy provides instant gratification to the fanbase, a wow factor and Jerry's ego on center stage, he often overlooks the importance of the fundamental building blocks it takes to build a sustainable winner on the football field.
When you look back to the glory days when Jimmy Johnson was in town, you think about dominant lines, a power running game, tremendous depth and a system of talent evaluation and acquisition that worked.
What the Cowboys have with today's present-day roster ranges from star quality, to cornerstone building blocks, to overpaid, mediocre talent, to how does this player draw a paycheck in the NFL talent. That's the disturbing part when it comes to truly analyzing the foundation of this team, and it could provide the answer to why this franchise has been so mediocre for so long.
In recent years and even today, the lack of talent on both the offensive line and defensive line has become too noticeable. Up until the 2011 draft, Jones had previously never used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. That's a lot of years (over 20) at overlooking a position that is the key to winning most games.
Offensively, the Cowboys still struggle to run the ball, and Tony Romo has to do a Houdini act at least a dozen or so times a game just to extend drives and preserve his life.
Why? Because Doug Free stinks, their guards are average and Jeremy Parnell is the swing tackle without a body of work, and he's not battle tested. So when you lose a Tyron Smith, you stand to lose your quarterback.
So for everyone who hates Tony Romo or thinks he's the problem with this team, guess again, because the problems lie in the foundation of the franchise. Just like the foundation of a house that's built on sand. Defensively, the Cowboys have done a nice job adding cornerbacks like Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, but there is still one big, glaring problem with this defense.
Jerry Jones continues to ignore the best and most obvious way to stop an opposing quarterback, and that's by having a lethal pass rush.
Sure they have DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, but who else can be counted on or trusted to consistently apply pressure and shoulder some of the workload? Victor Butler? Kyle Wilber? Alex Albright? Sean Lissemore? Ben Bass?
It might sound like a football cliche, but building a team from the inside out is still the most effective and efficient way to go. Between the active roster, the practice squad and the players on injured reserve, the Cowboys have 69 players as members of this franchise. Of that amount, it's hard to even come up with 25 players that deserve to be part of the future of this team.
The list will definitely spark some debate, but here it is:
Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Tyron Smith, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Nate Livings, Jason Witten, James Hanna, DeMarco Murray, Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lissemore, Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Carr, Mo Claiborne, Gerald Sensabaugh, Mike Jenkins, Dan Bailey, Dwayne Harris, Barry Church, Anthony Spencer, Kevin Ogletree, Jay Ratliff, Ryan Cook.
Some of these players will have longer tenures than others, but even if you tweak this list, take a few off and add a few on, you're basically looking at 25 to 30 players off of this current roster worth keeping and looking to replace close to half.
Many people are probably jumping out of their seats by seeing Romo on this list, but let's face facts and realize that he's not going anywhere. Maybe Dan Connor, Cole Beasley, Kyle Wilber and Matt Johnson wind up on this list, but who else? What is wrong with this picture? It's almost half the roster!
When you factor in salary cap restraints, age, performance and other factors, this list could potentially be 20 to 25 players long.
So the question is not why the Cowboys have to tear down this foundation and start over; it's become quite clear that it's almost necessary. Having a draft like the one from 2009 doesn't help matters, but even the recent ones that produced Bryant, Lee and Carter aren't enough to compensate for the deficiencies of this franchise.
The true reason the Cowboys must start to tear down this foundation and start new is because of the problem this team is currently facing, and that's not being able to sustain their pile up of injuries at the most critical positions with the exception of backup quarterback.
Jerry Jones and his brain trust need to go back to fundamentals. They need a rededication, commitment and effort in building this team for sustainable success. Maybe when Jerry looks at the three Lombardi trophies in his big office he'll remember the glory days and how it was done.
Ah, the glory days.
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