Free agency is underway. Teams are posturing and positioning and snapping up talent to improve their on-field product.
Everyone, that is, except your Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys, due to Jerry Jones’s shrewd moves in the past—Yes, that is my tongue in my cheek—have been obliged to move heaven and earth and release players like Gerald Sensabaugh and former first-rounder Marcus Spears to get under the cap.
They made it, but barely. As of this writing, the Cowboys are $175,000 under a $123 million cap. There is no wiggle room.
So, while their NFC East bunk mates ink free agents to new deals, the Cowboys stand pat.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys will be an improved team on the defensive side of the ball in 2012. Mark my word.
I can give you three very good reasons for this:
- An upgrade in scheme. The Cowboys’ return to the 4-3 will prove to be the best move the team has made in years. Rather than making complicated reads and running the risk of one or more players blowing an assignment on every play, the new system will allow the players to read and react more naturally to what is happening on the other side of the ball.
- An upgrade in coaching. Rob Ryan is a legend in his own mind. Just like his daddy and brother, he talks a much better game than he coaches. Monte Kiffin, on the other hand, is a genuine defensive guru with the ability, even at his advanced age, to communicate and motivate his troops.
- An upgrade in personnel.
Whoa, Gene! How do you figure that third one?
Yes. I know. They haven’t signed anyone and they have cut two starters.
But don’t forget, my friend, that Sean Lee, the vocal and spiritual leader of the defense and the best linebacker the team has had in year, missed the season due to injury. And, don’t forget that his replacement, Bruce Carter, who was making his own name as a stud linebacker, went down to injury. Furthermore, do not forget that Jay Ratliff was injured and out of commission for much of the season.
A return to good health by key players will result in an upgrade in personnel.
The one wildcard, defensively, remains at the safety position. Barry Church, who was also injured last year, is the only legitimate starting-caliber safety left. If the Cowboys can effectively address that position in the draft (and that is a big IF), the defense will be fine. Heck. Better than fine, I think.
They will be good.
Now, about that offensive offensive line…