In August of this year, the Dallas Cowboys appeared headed toward a season of disaster based on consistently poor performances during the preseason, including an embarrassing showing in Houston against the in-state rival Texans. At that time I wrote that Dallas fans should not worry because the Cowboys were too talented to fail.
Not only was I wrong, but I never imagined the 2010 edition of the Dallas Cowboys, composed of some of the most talented athletes in the NFL, would start the season 1-5, including three losses at Cowboys Stadium.
The loss of quarterback Tony Romo for 6-8 weeks with a fractured collarbone during Monday night’s loss to the New York Giants merely disguises the problems of the franchise. Now, instead of admitting the team is in shambles, owner Jerry Jones can blame all of the Cowboys’ troubles on Romo’s injury.
Backup quarterback Jon Kitna will take the helm of the sinking ship which is the Cowboys beginning on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kitna has not started a game since he was a member of the Detroit Lions two years ago.
In actuality, the injury to Romo is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to Dallas at this point in the Cowboys’ dreadful season. With Romo on the field, the Cowboys may have been able to finish the season 5-11 or 6-10. Now, there is a good chance last year’s division champions could finish 2-14 or 1-15. This would give the Cowboys a great chance to earn the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Now we all know that Jerry Jones will probably screw up the pick, trading down for three sixth round picks over the next three years or giving the pick to a contender to get a backup quarterback. But, for argument’s sake, let’s assume the Cowboys do get the number one draft pick and Jerry actually decides to select a player that Dallas needs.
Based on this scenario, I will now reveal how to fix the Cowboys and return America’s Team to the Super Bowl within the next five years.
First, love him or hate him, Tony Romo will be the starting quarterback for years to come. Romo is an average quarterback that makes too many stupid mistakes. However, an average quarterback surrounded by great players can win a Super Bowl. Look at Eli Manning. Manning won Super Bowl XLII thanks to outstanding receivers, a solid running game, and one of the best offensive lines in the game. Dallas should rest Romo and his collarbone for the rest of the season. There is no need to bring Tony back to get drilled into the ground again.
Which brings me to the next area of concern for the Cowboys: the offensive line. Dallas’ O-line has repeatedly performed below average during the Wade Phillips’ era. The line was called out after last year’s playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings, yet no improvements were made during the offseason. Instead of selecting a lineman with his first round pick, Jerry Jones went for the flashy pick: receiver Dez Bryant. The Cowboys got rid of veteran left tackle Flozell Adams and brought in the only player in the league with more penalties than Adams. The lack of effort and talent on the offensive line has played an enormous role in the Cowboys’ five losses so far this season. Jones must take a lineman in one of the first two rounds of the draft and acquire at least another lineman by trading away Marion Barber.
That’s right, Marion Barber needs to go. Felix Jones is more versatile and has more big-play capabilities compared to Barber. Tashard Choice continues to stand on the sidelines while Barber gets stuffed one play after another. Choice could relieve Jones and play in two-running back formations, however Jones would receive most of the time.
Perhaps the only bright spot for the Cowboys is their receiving corps, composed of Roy Williams, Miles Austin, and rookie Dez Bryant. Williams has emerged from his funk this season and Bryant appears to be on his way to building a Hall of Fame career. Jason Witten needs to eliminate his increasing number of mental mistakes, but he is still one of the most reliable players on the team.
On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary repeatedly gets dominated game after game. Jerry needs to draft a safety or cornerback in the first or second round and at least another defensive back later in the draft. He should also attempt to trade Sam Hurd in an attempt to get more secondary help.
The linebackers and defensive line continue to confuse me. Players such as DeMarquis Ware, Marcus Spears, and Bradie James have proven at times to be some of the most talented defensive players in the league. Yet, they have rarely made an impact this season, allowing opponents to drive up and down the field on them. I believe bringing in a new defensive coordinator to replace Wade Phillips is necessary to bring the spark back to the defense.
David Buehler went from being the best kickoff specialist in the league to average at best once the Cowboys forced him to become their field goal kicker. Buehler needs to return to his kickoff-only role and Dallas must bring in a new field goal kicker. There are over 100 Division 1 college football teams. At least one of these teams has to have a kicker on their roster that can actually make field goals. Dallas has to scout every single college team, even if Jerry and his sons have to do it themselves, to find somebody who can actually kick.
And, finally, the coaching staff needs to be replaced from top to bottom. No more Wade. No more Jason Garrett. No more Dave Campo. No more excuses. No more laziness. No more confusion. Get Jon Gruden on the Dallas sidelines as soon as this season ends and let him bring in the guys he needs to surround himself with to be successful. The Super Bowl is within sight for the Cowboys. Jerry just needs to take out the garbage first.
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