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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Dallas Cowboys: The Surprising (Ancient) Winning Formula

Picture this:

Jason Garrett sits down with Jerry Jones in 2011, the interim tag recently removed from his title as head coach.  In a conversation reminiscent of this old Samsung commercial, he tells Jerry, "If we run the football consistently and effectively, we will win more games."

Pow.  Mind blown.

That's the secret to the Cowboys' success.  It's not some crazy new scheme, it's not a star receiver or quarterback, it's having an effective power run game.  Who knew that a tactic that's worked for over a hundred years at all levels of football would make an owner's championship aspirations seem reasonable?

The question fans would ask is why hasn't this worked in years past?

Actually, that's not the question.

The question is, why wasn't this the game plan in years past?

Maybe the offensive line wasn't solid enough until adding that third first round pick (Zack Martin) to the line.

Maybe Garrett, as a former quarterback, couldn't get out of his own way and call runs instead of passes.

Maybe the fear of a DeMarco Murray injury paralyzed the Cowboys, and now the team has faith in underwear salesman Joseph Randle and local product Lance Dunbar to step up should Murray get hurt.

Maybe the defense wasn't slowing teams down enough to keep the offense grounded.

The truth is a blend of all four.

The defense is far from perfect, but Rod Marinelli motivated twice-retired Rolando McClain into a defensive weapon, while near-bust Tyrone Crawford is doing a great Jason Hatcher impression (despite his lack of sacks).  Marinelli has even modified his scheme to fit the players he has by mixing in some man coverage for Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick, who are better in man coverage than zone.

Meanwhile, Randle is no longer a rookie, and does a respectable Murray impression when he does get the ball.  The line is clearing huge holes, allowing Scott Linehan to continue calling runs and keep the defense off the field- a factor that should never be underestimated.  A rested defense can fly to the ball without worrying about later drives, which is making up for the lack of talent outside of McClain.

This may have been the plan right from the start of Garrett's tenure, as evidenced by the Cowboys actually drafting offensive linemen.  Tyron Smith was the first first round offensive lineman drafted by the Cowboys since Indiana Jones hit the silver screen, while Martin is the third in four years.

In short, the usual clichés apply: what's old is new again, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The Cowboys have built a tried and true formula for success, and it is working.

How bout dem Cowboys?


I'd like take a moment to thank my sister for giving me a little extra reason to enjoy the Week 4 win against the Aints, and to tell the rest of my NoLa based family that it will get better next year.


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