According to Forbes.com, our Dallas Cowboys are currently the #2 most valuable sports team in the entire world behind Manchester United. Throughout their existence, they have provided the DFW Metroplex with extraordinary football, having multiple successful seasons and a total of 5 championships. Now, after a disappointing 6-10 season last year, many Cow-sheep out there are craving a step back to their successful play, similar to their jump from a so-so 2008 season to their second-round playoff run in 2009. I have some news that could be taken as negative or positive – depending on how you view sports. Even if the Cowboys and Jerry Jones don’t want to admit it, the main function of the 2011 NFL season (yes, it is actually happening) for the Dallas Cowboys won’t be to add another ring for the franchise…or for Roy Williams’s ex-girlfriend. It will be to rebuild.
Once Wade Phillips was fired after a 1-7 start last season, it was apparent that the Cowboys organization was ready to move past this era in Cowboys history. Known for his defensive expertise, Phillips seemed to do the exact opposite for the Cowboys organization. Sluggish, uninterested, and sloppy were just a few words used to describe the Cowboys defense – especially the secondary – through the first half of the season as they gave up more than 24 points 6 times. When it came to perception, Phillips came across as soft, never getting on his players for their play and sending a message that they don’t have to be accountable for their effort on the field.
The consequence of this firing was the emergence of offensive-coordinator Jason Garrett, who became the new interim coach. Early on, he made it clear that the past grandmother-loving style of coaching was done. For good. Garrett immediately put all players on the same level and expected them to perform with 100% effort 100% of the time. A dress code was even initiated for games that I believe was a good move since it allowed the team to become more unified. With this new hard-nosed approach, the Cowboys had a much better 5-3 record to finish the season. Garrett’s “interim” tag was soon taken off, and he became the next head coach for the ‘Boys.
Once the tedious NFL lockout finally ended, the Cowboys didn’t take a breath to continue their transition into their new look. Roy Williams, Marion Barber, Marc Colombo, and Leonard Davis, were all cut from the roster within the first week of the offseason. Williams’s departure was no surprise after multiple sub-par seasons when the Cowboys were expecting pro-bowl seasons. Barber had fallen off as a dependable back during the season and had an attitude not suitable for Garrett’s new system. Marc Colombo and Leonard Davis simply cost too much to keep on the roster.
These four veterans that played all 4 seasons for Wade were removed for one reason or another, but their departure has a more underlying meaning than just some simple cuts. There is a saying that “as one door closes, another one opens,” and the Cowboys are creating a brand new door, room, and even house. Tony Romo will still lead the project, but unlike the last house that was built a few years ago, there will be many new crew members such as Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant, Sam Young, and Sean Lee, and Garrett will be supervising the whole thing.
Now, building a house properly requires many different tweaks and adjustments, which takes a lot of time. This “reconstruction” is exactly what will be going on this upcoming season for Dallas, and we, as fans, need to realize this, so our expectations aren’t too high – for now. As Garrett implements his techniques and his new players onto the field, it will take many games or maybe an entire season for things to click. On top of this, because of the shortened offseason, new defensive-coordinator Rob Ryan is having to move very quickly to implement his defense into the system. This is a something that players need time to grasp, especially young players like Tyron Smith, who has really been struggling. That’s why a record similar to last year’s season could still be deemed as a step towards the future (this is a difficult concept for us to grasp since, as North Texans, we’ve seen the Mavericks and Rangers swiftly become contenders without much rebuilding). As long as the Cowboys don’t have a season like the Panthers did last year and are able to remain competitive, there should be hope. We need to see a head coach that expects a lot from his players and a new team that is unselfish and hungry to get out there and play no matter the circumstances. If the Cowboys can sign some reliable cornerbacks in the upcoming years, I feel they will have a squad ready to make their mark in the league.
So, this upcoming season, as you watch these Cowboys begin their rebuilding project, remain patient and understand that a strong house can’t stand unless there is a solid foundation. Hopefully, in the not so distant future, this new house might even be sold for the Vince Lombardi trophy.
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