Dallas Cowboys: Vickers Release Has Garrett Written All over It
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Cutting fullback Lawrence Vickers has head coach Jason Garrett's fingerprints all over it. I'm speculating with this argument, but I think that the evidence is there.
Remember Daryl ''Moose'' Johnston?
I'm sure you do, and if not, please do your homework.
Johnston was a major reason that Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith became the NFL's all-time leading rusher in 2002. The idea of having a lead blocker for your primary ball-carrier is as sound as anything in the game of football. It's also a huge plus when it comes to pass protection.
After just one season, fullback Lawrence Vickers, 30, was released by the Cowboys last weekend. We can hardly blame last season's awful rushing performance on him.
So, why cut Vickers? It's not for the $1.2 million savings concerning the salary cap.
Aspiring head coach Garrett has had one awful offseason, even if perception only is the primary reason. No head coach in the NFL, by far, has dealt with as much neutralization as Garrett has had.
Garrett has effectively had his play-calling authority removed and is already known for calling on better authoritative figures than himself to inspire a football team that he should be controlling. Instead, Garrett is now surrounded by numerous assistant coaches that far surpass his experience and accomplishments.
I would simply suggest that Garrett released Vickers because he could.
Garrett and authority blend like oil and water.
Considering the events surrounding defensive linemen Josh Brent and Jay Ratliff over the last year, Garrett's influence over the team resembles that of former head coach Barry Switzer much more so than his predecessor Jimmy Johnson.
Nonetheless, Garrett is sending the message that the Cowboys are going to live or die by the passing game that he brought to town back in 2007. That same passing game has brought forth a single playoff victory as well as three losses against each NFC East division rival in regular season finales that would have created playoff berths with victories.
No, it hasn't been pretty under Garrett, as either the head coach or wet-behind-the-ears offensive coordinator—the latter was a bit better, I'll admit.
By cutting Vickers, Garrett can not only illustrate some level of authority that he still has, but he can also send the subtle message that running the ball isn't that important.
Clearly, Garrett wants to continue throwing the football 50-60 times per game in hopes that one day his offense will look like that of the one in New Orleans. The problem is that Dallas doesn't have the personnel that the Saints have, especially on the offensive line, that has allowed New Orleans to win a Super Bowl under head coach Sean Payton—you think owner and general manager Jerry Jones doesn't regret letting that guy get away?
It was also reported that Garrett showed his first smile of the 2013 NFL draft when second-round selection Gavin Escobar was chosen. I would expect Garrett to smile. Escobar is not at all a run-blocking tight end who's known strictly as a pass-catcher.
Garrett believes that the key to a great offense is more pass-catchers than the opposition can handle, a silly idea that has never shown to be worth squat.
Yes, you can win games with a lot of points—but how you get those points is the key.
Vickers was one of the most solid pass-blockers at his position, and he would have been much more effective behind an offensive line that wasn't as bad as what Dallas had a year ago. With his departure, the Cowboys will now see more single-back formations than at any time I can think of.
Frankly, I don't think it's necessary at all to go to town with an offense that can't run. There's been numerous NFL offenses that were beyond effective at both controlling the football and scoring points.
Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s.
San Francisco of the 1980s.
Pittsburgh Steelers and Cowboys of the 1970s.
These were each franchises that earned ''Team of the Decade'' discussion, and all had multiple and unique pieces in the backfield as opposed to a slew of pass-catching tight ends and wide receivers.
Hopefully, offensive coordinator Bill Callahan has enough control to keep the right pieces in place for the Cowboys to have a balanced, contending offense. His history says that this will be so, but little of his story has been written while working underneath Garrett and Jones.
Another possibility is that tight end James Hanna, drafted in 2012, can help provide some additional physique when Dallas has the ball. I recently offered my thoughts on why Hanna may be more important this year than second-round selection Gavin Escobar in this year's draft. Escobar might never be an effective run blocker.
Good luck to Vickers, a player axed for no other reason than the fact the head coach in Dallas seems to think that slinging the ball around the yard as much as possible is the real key to contention—but hopefully not for too much longer.
If cutting Vickers was not Garrett's idea, then shame on him for not fighting hard enough to keep him.
I realize that the fullback position is fading in the NFL and that the Cowboys aren't the only ones involved in this ideology.
Just because a group of your friends decide to jump off a cliff doesn't mean that you have to join them. That's certainly the thinking of last year's participants in Super Bowl XLVII, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
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