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Dallas Should Focus Draft On Defense

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Cowlishaw: Using five traits, how do Cowboys compare to NFL's final four? This Story is About...

Tim Cowlishaw

For the 20th year in a row, the NFC has decided to hold a championship game without inviting the Cowboys. It's starting to feel personal, like my failure to land an invite to Kevin Sherrington's Christmas party since about 1999.

But when you go to 10 of the first 13 as the Cowboys did following the 1970 merger, take a few years off to make a little coaching change, then visit four in a row following the 1992 through 1995 seasons, it's easy to see how the league gets sick of having you around. Regardless, after playing in 14 of the first 26, the Cowboys have gone 0-for-20.

Just how far away is this team? A year ago it couldn't have been any closer. In 2015, the Cowboys had the worst record in the NFC.

Let's look at five common traits that all four or sometimes three out of four of this weekend's conference title contestants share. It turns out the Cowboys are just fine in three categories but have much work to be done in the other two.

Starting with the good news for Cowboys fans:

UNPROVEN COACH -- Let's put the guy named Belichick aside. The other three are in their first conference championship games as head coaches after beating Super Bowl-winning coaches last weekend. And, at various times, all three have been viewed as nothing special.

Denver's Gary Kubiak got fired with a losing record after more than seven years in Houston. Ron Rivera was 28-31-1 going into December 2014, and had never won a playoff game.

Arizona's Bruce Arians? He picked up his first playoff victory Saturday night, and the man has been around awhile. If high schooler Jason Garrett had decided to visit Temple when he was getting set to attend Princeton, he could have met with Temple coach Bruce Arians.

It's not always about playoff experience when it comes to NFL success ... although it kind of works for New England.

AGING QB -- Cam Newton is the exception. Otherwise, the secret to 2015 success is old, immobile quarterbacks.

Peyton Manning is sacking himself (or so it appeared) before popping up to throw for first downs. Tom Brady got rid of the ball in an average of 2.2 seconds Saturday because he knows he can't avoid the pass rush. Carson Palmer, like his head coach, took his sweet time before securing that first NFL playoff win Saturday night. All three are older than Tony Romo.

You can argue that Brady is less a health risk than Romo, but I don't think you can make that case for the other two. Old school still works when it comes to the quarterback position.

NO THOUSAND-YARD BACK -- The Cowboys actually are overqualified here as Darren McFadden, despite spending most of September on the bench, was one of seven 1,000-yard rushers this season. None of the seven will be active Sunday.

Carolina's Jonathan Stewart comes about as close to elite as you will see, and he has never been in the discussion with Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray and co. in recent years. Denver splits time with Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson because both get the job done and neither goes beyond that.

Arizona rookie David Johnson was strong down the stretch after replacing a productive Chris Johnson, but any Cardinals runner's success is based on defenses worrying about their three dangerous wide receivers. New England (seven runs by Stephen Jackson and James White, 42 passes last week) really can't be bothered with the run.

On the other side of the ball, things get sticky for Dallas.

SHUTDOWN CORNER -- The NFC doesn't have any better than Carolina's Josh Norman and Arizona's Patrick Peterson. New England's Malcolm Butler saved the Super Bowl as a rookie and made the Pro Bowl this season. Both Broncos corners (Chris Harris and Berkner's Aqib Talib) are headed to the Pro Bowl.

See a pattern here?

The Cowboys' best cornerback didn't play all season. But Orlando Scandrick is closer to good than to elite shutdown status.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS -- All four teams were top 10 in total defense. All four were top 10 in scoring defense. The Cowboys ranked 17th and 16th in those categories.

The four ranged from OK (New England) to great (Carolina and Arizona) in takeaways. The Cowboys ranked dead last.

Does this mean the Cowboys should focus solely on defense in free agency and the draft this spring?

I would take out the word "solely," but otherwise it's a good approach. Now you couldn't tell this from watching the team play in 2015. Usually, the defense kept Dallas in games before caving in late. But if a healthy Romo and Dez Bryant don't change this equation in 2016, then this team has more problems than it can possibly address in one offseason.

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I think a young and quick QB is what's needed there but what the hell do I know?


Good luck G, there are just too many needs there. How they prioritize them is a guess to me. 

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Take your stinkin baseball crap outta here.

This is about the stinkin Cowboys. 


If it wasn't for "my baseball crap" what would you have to bitch about? :p  :moon:

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I think it would be good for football if Dallas was once again a relevant team.

But judging from the original post above they have a ton of homework to do.


Trade romo & pay what is still him while hes worth something.


Get rid of the puppet coach, he useless often looking & acting confused.


Relinquish GM position from Jerry to just owner & no more press or input in day to day football operations.


Cut Hardy

Move Dez.


Announce the discontinuation of acquireing

Players with a history of violence, drugs, etc.


Revaluate all scouts and coaches and assist-coaches.


No longer write long term contracts for short term goals.


Basically start over from the draft and trades, starting with a QB.


Explain to the fans that this will take time. Old way has failed miserably and a wholesale change will be needed & painful in the begining.


And with any luck JJ will be sitting in wet depends along with Shula

Edited by iphish

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Nothing will change as long as they don't have a GM. Need new coach as well.

Jerry Jones is the gm (& owner) Edited by iphish

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Sounds like the article emphasized getting better on defense.


No new GM. Never going to happen.


JJ loves his puppet therefore no new coach.


Romo isn't gong anywhere so either he plays or sits. Regardless he stays.


Dez might be trade baits for two number one picks but what do you replace him with? Talk is they need to compliment him as Willians clearly isn't a number one.


That O line is too good to just up and quit on them by going full rebuild. I don't see the Boyz ever starting from scratch with JJ alive and even if he croaked tomorrow there's too much already invested to have a fire sale and go hunting for five years down the road.


Hardy didn't show enough to get top dollar and JJ loves risk where there's reward. He can be had for less than last season and most of the drama has happened. Why remove a piece from the side of the ball most needed?


Much easier to just go heavy on defense in the draft. Me thinks.

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