Time For Changes in Dallas
Let's just get this out of the way off the top, Jerry Jones isn't going to hire a general manager, Tony Romo will not be replaced and Jason Garrett will be back on the sidelines next season at Cowboys Stadium.
Everyone got that? Good.
Let's look at some realistic options for the Cowboys to keep them out of the NFC East cellar next season, a task infinitely harder now that the Redskins have emerged and the talented Eagles will have fresh blood in the coach’s office.
First on the agenda must be to bring in an offensive coordinator as Garrett's play calling has gotten progressively worse each season and perhaps allowing him to focus on being the head coach would cut down on the horrid game management decisions that have doomed the Cowboys the past two years.
My best guess would be a reunion with Norv Turner who may have a rather unsuccessful track record as a head coach, but he is a very good offensive coordinator and has proven repeatedly to be very good for quarterbacks.
Turner would bring much needed structure to a Cowboys offense that despite weapons at every skill position struggles with the consistency needed to win games in December and January.
The Cowboys defense was hit hard by injuries and rookie CB Morris Claiborne took some rookie lumps but overall the Dallas defense will return intact next season with Dallas maybe adding some depth on the defensive front and secondary on the second day of the draft.
Sean Lee will return next season along with a healthy DeMarcus Ware returning Rob Ryan's defense to full strength, a defense that is more than capable of being championship caliber as long as Dallas adds the necessary depth behind the starting 11.
See, it's not all bad news for the Cowboys.
Now for the problems on offense that despite a horrible game in D.C. isn't all on Tony Romo's shoulders.
Dez Bryant took a huge step forward setting up a breakout season next year for the young playmaker, but Miles Austin took a step backward and even though the younger receivers showed flashes at times this season Dallas could look to upgrade at the slot position through free agency to allow the younger players to develop at their own speed.
None of this really matters however unless the Cowboys can keep Romo from throwing from his back which means some big decisions must be made along the Dallas offensive line.
Cutting Doug Free, the weakest link by far on a terrible line this season, will save Dallas $7 million in cap space and that is exactly what I expect the Cowboys to do.
Jerry Jones didn't draft a lineman in the first round until Tyson Smith a couple of seasons ago and while his transition is still a work in progress, Smith has proven to be a good pickup for Dallas.
Dallas is picking 18th in this draft and should have very good options among a talented group of linemen to choose from. A guard would be the best fit but regardless Dallas needs to take the best lineman on the board and shift him over for the best roster fit.
Dallas does have a unique opportunity to spend a lot of time on the offensive line in this draft with talent already on the roster at the skill positions.
It may not be the sexiest draft for Dallas, but fixing the offensive line in one offseason is not only doable, it is also essential for Dallas to be successful next year.
The Patriots went into the draft last year with one glaring weakness on the defensive side of the ball and spent the entire draft on defensive players.
Look at them now, 2nd seed in the AFC playoffs and a threat for another Super Bowl run.
Simply put, Dallas has the same opportunity in front of them. Question is will Jerry actually make the moves necessary for the Cowboys to be successful in 2013 even though none of them will grab headlines?
I doubt it, but Jerry has surprised us before.