I have a good feeling about this year!… We are going all the way!… We're looking good with everything we did in the off season!… This year is different! These are things that every NFL fan says about their favorite team. Of course, there are an exception to that rule with a few teams that never seem to enjoy real success. Let me tell you why I am feeling good about the Dallas Cowboys in the upcoming 2010 season…competition.
Jerry has adopted a way of handling this team that has been a rule of previous successors of the Dallas Cowboys. For perfect example, take Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson. These two leaders, of grown men, knew how to motivate their team while remaining loyal and making this a business. Just like how any other business is ran, if you don't do your job there will be somebody that is more than willing to take your position. If it means to get on a professional football team… then that is a definite! But to play for America's Team!… the Dallas Cowboys, comes a real sense of honor. To know what has been a symbol of a successful sports franchise for years is what has become every player (who takes their craft seriously) dreams come true. Even if you have rooted for another team your entire childhood, to play for the silver and blue really means something.
Competition should always bring the best out of us. Competition doesn't necessarily mean cutting the throat of the man, behind you or, in front of you in order to get ahead. It means everyday showing up with your ‘A-Game'. Despite how you feel that day or what's going on in your life, you know how to get the best out of yourself in whatever you do. That also means getting the best out of yourself with the people that you work with…you push each other. Lots of times you end up rooting for that person that you are also competing against. Mainly for the love and dedication that you have for each other…and in this case, that star.
I love the way that Jerry and Wade handle this team after handfuls of follies Jerry had dealt over the years. Dishing out millions of dollars for big time players that just don't seem to mount up to high standards when their pockets get really full. Perfect example of this has been Terrell Owens. Money doesn't always talk, but B.S. definitely walked. A lot has been learned from the few short years that T.O. has given to this organization. T.O. got paid big money and felt like he needed to prove himself, so he played at the top of his game. He had that motivation, that sense to prove himself, that fire under his rear. Once he got paid again and knew that he was “set” to be a Dallas Cowboy for life, his true colors spilt out.
Now for the subject of Roy Williams, that is something that I just don't feel like touching right now…I believe I have already said enough.
To get to my point…we need to have depth at all positions and we have it this year. We have veterans competing with veterans; rookies drooling over the chance to learn from a vets and possibly take over a vets spot; and rookies needing to prove themselves with all the talk that has surrounded them.
There are some exceptions to the rule this year. Tony Romo has proven himself this year as a true elite QB. Now that we have a ‘QB friendly' system, he has shown himself to know how to be the leader and to successfully march the team down the field. Demarcus Ware has proven himself to be a constant elite player on defense. After starting off slow last season, he came through strong in the end and remained a definite force. But, it is always nice to have that guy behind him wanting to get in and show what he's got. To show that he's got the stuff it takes. That's what makes a team solid. To know that when Ware comes out of the game that there will be a Jason Williams, Victor Butler, Stephen Hodges, or Brandon Williams waiting behind for their chances to contribute to the team. The competition is what makes the Dallas Cowboys a whole, to function to it's max potential.
Sean Lee will be on the backs of the feet of Brady James and Keith Brooking this year. Not saying that either one of these veteran starters will be replaced, but Sean Lee will be there to learn and to show that he can play at that level. I am particularly happy with our Wide Receiving corp this year! Our original starter will be Miles Austin and Roy Williams. There will be plenty of competition for both of these starter to make sure to always bring their ‘A-Game'. We have Kevin Ogletree who wants to prove that he can handle more snaps this year after his successful rookie showing. Manny Johnson and Jesse Holley feel like they could replace either Patrick Crayton and/or Sam Hurd for a slot on that bottom of that roster. Let's not forget our favorite topic of the year…our first round draft pick. Along with everything I mentioned with our Receiving corp….we can throw Dez Bryant right into the mix of everything.
As for Defense, I already mentioned how our Linebackers will be full to the rim with guys wanting to get in and show their stuff. Some already have and will be sure to always show why they are the newly developed starter (e.g. Anthony Spencer). Now we have competition in the secondary position, with not just the safety position, but also the cornerback position. Just when Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, and Orlando Scandrick start feeling comfortable at the spots the earned last year…Along comes Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and Jamar Wall. AOA can play safety and corner, and if he can make the special teams squad he could surely look to be a quality back up and future starter. Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin are looking to be the main competitors for is looking like the Free Safety starting position, but you never know if any of these young cornerbacks could handle that position. You know how Wade likes having guys on his team who can play more than one position. Now with Gerald Sensabaugh looking like he's not going to play unless he has a contract before the season starts, that just gives other “hungrier” players a chance to show themselves on the pro football stage. Then we have our Offensive Line who now has made the Doug Free situation a little bit lighter. With the addition of Alex Barron(in the Bobby Carpenter trade to the Rams), this years sixth round pick Sam Young ,and now, last years third rounder Robert Brewster is getting healthier from a torn pec before the season began last year. Free will need to show why Tony Sparano felt highly about this young prospect. Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen will be competing with Marcus Spears for Defensive End time. I think everyone is getting my point here!
Now there are good ways to handle adversity with competition. Take Marcus Spears who sees that he is getting under paid but is still willing to go out there and to do whatever he can to progress and to make this team better.
There are bad ways to handle adversity with competition. Take Gerald Sensabaugh, whom won't play this year unless he has a contract (longer than one year). Patrick Crayton, who isn't showing up to OTA's, which is allowing these other WR's to go out and strut their stuff.
All in all everybody is in it for the team effort…if their not then they are shown the easiest exit out of the Ranch.
We need to keep our players hungry!…that's exactly what Jimmy Johnson did with the Cowboys in the early 90's..he kept them wanting more. He made sure that he found talent and that the talent worked hard. Their reward?…wins…”W”s…a championship…many championships! Even spotlight time for their personal achievements. No matter if you just played Special Teams( e.g. Kenneth “The Shark” Grant and Bill Bates). Who can beat that?
Tom Landry did that with his players, with Craig Morton and Roger Staubach sharing time at QB..some times each coming out every other play. Or Preston Pearson with Tony Dorsett. After a while Pearson, knew that he just needed to become a role player and let the young star rookie take the lead. Meanwhile, Pearson gave a whole ‘nother depth to that '77 championship team.
I could go on and on. I could talk about the Running Back situation, on who should start and who should be our third down back, etc. Jason Witten has Martellus Bennett and John Phillips, to have him staying ahead of the game. Even the kicker Dave Buehler can't just walk in and assume the starting roll as kicking field goals. Practically, every position has someone who could came in from behind and take over the starting roll…that's what makes us special.
Now you could be reading this and think, “What about Romo, Ratliff, Witten or Ware?Haven't these guys already proven themselves at a, sometimes, All-Pro level??…don't these guys have a solid spot?” Well, of course, they do! They achieved it in their own way, by showing up every day to lead this team. Look at Aikman, Irvin, and Emmitt…they had solid spots, because they carried the team. I would love to say that there are solid spots on this team, but you never know…? I don't see any rings on Wade's Dallas Cowboys….just yet! Let 'em duke it out with each other in the hot weather this offseason….then duke it out with the rest of the NFL to show everyone what they are made of, and what their teammates have pushed each other to become…future Super Bowl Champions!