The Dallas Cowboys have been stuck at five Super Bowl championships since the mid-90s. They now have a window of opportunity to win a sixth, but certain steps have to be made in order to accomplish the goal.
Teams across the NFL have the thought that they’re “one-step away” from the big game in February. But the reality is that 30 of them require more than one step, and 16 of them need more help than Plaxico Burress in a gun-safety course.
The Cowboys are only six steps away, none more important than the other. There are problems all over this team that Ray Charles could see and they all need to be addressed.
I know what you’re thinking.
“Rob, we drafted him in the top ten, he should play on the left side!”
I understand the point, but why make him play a position that he doesn’t have a lot of experience in? Let alone in his rookie year?!
I do believe Smith has the ability and skill to play at the left tackle position one day, but not his rookie year, not when the ‘Boys have Doug Free over there and already doing one hell of a job.
For comparisons-sake—Free allowed five sacks last season and Flozell Adams allowed seven in 2009.
The point is, there’s nothing wrong with Free at left tackle, so don’t cause a headache by trying to move him back to right so that Smith can play a position that he’s no comfortable with.
He’ll find the left side later in his career—just not in 2011.
While watching NFL Replay last week, I saw David Buehler miss an extra point against the Giants in week 10.
Need I say more?
It’s not that Buehler was a horrendous kicker, but it seemed like the Cowboys couldn’t rely on him to make the kicks that they really needed.
Buehler was 24-for-32 overall, and missed two extra points in 2010.
But his bad timing is what hurts the Cowboys even more. He was perfect in the first quarter of the games last season, but only kicked 50% in the fourth.
In other words, he’s as clutch as LeBron James with four seconds left in the game.
To hoist up a sixth Lombardi, the Cowboys need someone who can deliver when the team really needs it. We may not need Michael Jordan, but at least give me Derek Fisher.
OK, enough with the NBA analogies — just give me a kicker who can get it through the goalposts when I’m counting on him.
There’s a lot of uncertainty whether there will be a salary cap in 2011 or not, but regardless if there is or isn’t one—Marion Barber and Roy Williams need to go.
Not only have these two players overstayed their welcome and became two overpaid veterans on the roster, but they’re now becoming progress-stoppers as well.
The Cowboys drafted DeMarco Murray in the third-round of the draft, and many believe that is the obvious sign that Barber is on his way out of Dallas. But if not (and let’s say they cut Tashard Choice instead) than Barber will command the starting spot due to his salary and Murray won’t be able to grow into the new system.
A similar situation is going on in the receiving core as young players like Kevin Ogletree and Jesse Holley are starving for more reps, but Roy Williams has already gone through the buffet line and is now going back for seconds before anyone else.
The Cowboys have had progress stoppers in the past (See: Pacman Jones) who did mediocre on the field and only prevented young players from growing. It’s just unfortunate that Barber and Williams haven’t produced on the field like they use to.
So unless those two are ready to share reps or produce more, there’s no sense in keeping them on the roster.
“But Rob, why settle for Landry when we can sign Michael Huff!!”
Slow down reader, let me explain first.
It’s pretty simple really; the Cowboys have holes on their roster and can’t just go out signing every great free agent out there. This isn’t your NFL Madden game for the Xbox.
With Doug Free’s contract expiring soon (and yes, I do think he’ll get “left-tackle money”) and other needs around the roster, I don’t think the Cowboys will have enough cash to sign multiple high-profile players.
I’ll get to which high-profile player they should sign momentarily.
Landry comes at a price that will hopefully be reasonable to a five-year veteran like himself. He’s a player that isn’t afraid to enter the box and won’t be a liability in coverage.
If Huff gives the ‘Boys a hometown discount, than he’s the guy for the job. But most likely Landry will come at a cheaper price and still be able to produce on the field.
I was very tempted to leave this slide blank as this should require no explanation.
There are probably a dozen reasons why the Cowboys secondary was so awful last season.
Wade Phillips didn’t hold the team accountable, Terrance Newman was battling injuries, Micheal Jenkins had the sun in his eyes—who knows what the real reasons are?!
But there’s one thing I do know: Alan Ball cannot play free safety in the NFL.
Around this time last year, we were all sold the story that Ball wasn’t afraid to tackle and could help in coverage situations.
What we weren't told was that he couldn’t be relied on when the corners were getting beat or needed help from him.
It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyways) that there was nothing “safe” about Ball playing safety last year.
You can move him back to his natural position at corner and have Dawan Landry step in his place to solidify a secondary that was down-right embarrassing last season.
Or you can just cut Ball altogether. Either way it’s a win in my book.
With Marcus Spears in free agency and no news on whether Stephen Bowen will return, the Cowboys need a defensive lineman to compliment Jay Ratliff and the others in the front seven.
Enter my high-profile free agent.
Cullen Jenkins is that player who can attack both the quarterback and the runner on any given down.
With both Jenkins and Ratliff, this would give the Cowboys the option of running defensive formations that only have two down linemen. Formations that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has used in the past.
Jenkins is a proven 3-4 pass rusher, can be placed anywhere on the line (for those of you who believe Ratliff is moving to defensive end) and will instantly give opposing offenses another headache to try and block up front.
Could you imagine game-planning your passing attack and being tasked with the problem of blocking Demarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Ratliff and Jenkins?
I’d rather let Charlie Sheen babysit my kids before dealing with that headache.