Killer thoroughly laid out the Texans offseason needs here on the Surebud last week. I will attempt to the same. However, I am tempted to simply say "be better at football" because the Cowboys needs may trend more towards a novel than a blog post. The real question is "Does the Cowboys brass understand that this team needs a boatload of help?" Sadly I think not.
Let's Start With Some Positives.
The Cowboys have some very good, young pieces in the fold. Dez Bryant is a game changer who statistically made the leap in year three. His receptions, yards, touchdowns, and overall impact on games went up last season. He's an elite target. Sean Lee, when healthy, is an elite defensive player. He's smart, athletic, and has a nose for the big play. The caveat is, can he stay healthy. For now the answer is no until he proves otherwise. DeMarco Murray, when healthy, is a top 10 back in the league. He'll only get better should the line improve. The caveat again being he hasn't been able to stay healthy thus far and when you factor in his college work load there is a lot of wear on those tires. The era of the 10 year productive back is over. You've got a very small window with which to use him. Lastly Tyron Smith continues to evolve as a left tackle. Given his age, he could be a force for 10-12 more years. The second half of the season saw Smith make huge strides, no sacks allowed and only two penalties all while adjusting to a new position.
Looking Towards Next Year...
1. Build Up Front The Cowboys for years never worried about their offensive and defensive line play. They had Charles Haley, Nate Newton, Larry Allen, Russell Maryland, Mark Stepnoski, Leon Lett, etc. That's not the case now nor has it been for the past decade. Yet again the Cowboys enter a draft with needs in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Jerry inspired confidence this weekend when he said, “If you’re going to have a guy…that can handle a porous offensive line, it’s Tony,” That's like saying our cruise ship captain can really guide a sinking ship. Line play is the foundation of a successful team. It's like a chef who can create a great soup base, the possibilities are endless. But if your foundation is lacking you will always rely on someone to make a play rather than offensive efficiency. Tony made great plays at times, but he had to keep the team in games. Get rid of Doug Free and invest in the line. Building an offensive line takes time, patience, and scouting. Those are strengths of the Cowboy front offi...damn. Never mind. Just take another guy from Arkansas Jerry. Defensively, you need depth and size up front and you need pieces to fit the 4-3 scheme. Last year due to injuries and felonies the front was paper thin and way short on talent. Go draft a large defensive tackle or two and a tweener who is flexible enough to go inside or outside. May I suggest Kawaan Short of Purdue or Margus Hunt of SMU.
2. No More Gerald Sensabaugh The Cowboys have employed a stop gap at safety for three seasons now. Gerald Sensabaugh is like How I Met Your Mother. The jokes are old and there's no payoff. The safety position is changing and you need guys who are a hybrid safety/corner that shade more to a corner. Earl Thomas is a great example. Adapt or die, that's rule one. The league is heading is a direction and Gerald Sensabaugh is not the answer. Find a safety in the draft or free agency who can play the hybrid role, maybe Tony Jefferson.
3. Goodbye to Austin and Spencer The tough part of player personnel is deciding who should stay on the bus and who shouldn't, especially when you have a vested interest in those individuals because you brought them in. Austin was an intriguing player who is now overpaid. At 28 he's on the back half of whatever career he has, cut him, save the cash and get younger at the position. Anthony Spencer is 29 and finally got into double digit sacks for a season. He's not one of the 10 best defensive linemen in the league, so franchising him in a poorly applied band aid. After six years you know what you're getting. Plus Anthony is due for another position change and will now have to play with his hand on the ground. Save the money and cut bait.
4. Build Depth Later rounds are where you build depth on an NFL roster. Unless you are the Dallas Cowboys in which case you are just drafting seat fillers. Successful teams find guys in later rounds that can contribute on special teams and who can step into and fill roles. The Cowboys have to find these guys and hit more than miss. In rounds 4-7 the Pokes need to come away with help at any number of positions, for example a slot option with speed, a dime corner, linebacker depth, a second or third running back, or even a Swiss army knife for the offensive or defensive fronts.