In my last article, “Do you see what I see?” on GridironBlitz.com, I discussed what Jason Garrett and the Cowboys saw in RB DeMarco Murray that led to his selection in the third round. His selection, along with the rest of the 2011 Cowboy draft class, is a microcosm of Jason Garrett's team philosophy: Versatility.
Blogging The Boys has a great article that provides a transcription of what JG has to say about each player drafted. If you read it, you'll see that he uses the keyword in the title above numerous times throughout the piece. Each player selected further epitomizes JG's vision:
Tyron Smith, OT – Athletic. Possesses rare speed and mobility. What Doug Free allows us to do on one side, Smith will be able to do on the other.
Bruce Carter, ILB – An off-the-ball linebacker that can play in both the sam and will spots. He can line up in multiple positions in multiple formations.
DeMarco Murray, RB – Productive as both a runner and receiver. A utility playmaker.
David Arkin, OG – Tenacious. Has position flexibility. Can play in a couple different spots on the line.
Josh Thomas, CB – Physical and can tackle. Another corner Rob Ryan can use in his multitude of defensive sets.
Dwayne Harris, WR – A physical receiver who can be productive on both offense and special teams.
Shaun Chapas, FB – Smart fullback who can be effective in both the running game and passing game.
Bill Nagy, OG – Athletic and tenacious.
But this draft is only the most recent expression of a philosophy that started back when JG was first hired. A perfect example would be the “12” personnel package Dallas has been pretty fond of utilizing the past few years.
This personnel grouping uses one RB and two TE's, hence the “12”.
With players like Jason Witten, John Phillips and Martellus Bennett, the “12” personnel package provides a single player set that's effective in both the running game and passing game. It allows the team to run when it needs to run and pass when it needs to pass, without making a single substitution.
One need only look at who JG hired as defensive coordinator for further proof. Another Blogging The Boys article highlights what a Rob Ryan defense is all about, quoting Ryan as saying he wants “to have multiple players who can play different spots and cause confusion.”
When he was officially hired as head coach, Jason Garrett spoke with pride and nostalgia about “The Cowboy Way” and how he wanted to instill that in this football team. But what is it?
It's an identity, an understanding of who you are.
Whether or not you agree with who and when they were taken, it's obvious that the Cowboys selected these players with a particular team model in mind. So for those who look at this year's draft class and struggle to understand what's the method to this organization's madness, here it is:
When it comes to skill and scheme, the identity that is “The Cowboy Way,” “The Jason Garrett Way,” is simple: Versatility is king.