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Sifting For Gold…

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As an analogy, you could apply “sifting for gold” to quite a few different aspects of football. Free Agency. The building of the infamous war room draft board. Wittling the training camp roster from 80 to 53. But the one science of football that typically escapes the thoughts of most fans is how teams decide which plays they will keep in their play book and which one’s are dismissed as ineffective and/or are not complementory to the talent available.

That last bit is important to understand because the Cowboy’s playbook from last year and this year should be very different. It’s not so much because of the lack of success experienced with those plays, as it is due to the difference in the talent set and the difference in the coaches comprehension of said talent. Obviously, with T.O. gone, the plays that take a long time to develop very well may be all but extinct. Granted, Austin possesses some ability in stretching the defense, but it’s not likely they will rely on his ability to ultimately win games, as they seemed to do to a fault with T.O..

With the trio of backs and duo of TE’s the Cowboy’s have, a quick strike offense is likely the direction this team is headed in. Furthermore, the Cowboy’s now have a better understanding of what Felix, Choice, and Bennett can offer as weapons. The Cowboy’s will be looking to put together a play book that exercises each of their talents in different ways to keep opposing defenses off balance.

With that, I would like to take a moment to remind those of you who are concerned about every report indicating that Romo and company don’t seem to be insync, to consider that the play’s they are likely running are new to everyone, including the veterans. The idea behind these practices are to familiarize the players with different plays and, more importantly, to slowly acclimate said players conditioning to football ready

Once preseason begins, the process of sifting for gold, so-to-speak, begins, as they determine against viable opposing team defenses what play’s can be effectively ran, which players can execute said plays, and which players don’t fit with the final playbook they are able to construct as a result of the success and failures they experience through trial and error.

  • http://www.footballuniversity.org Football University

    It’s important for teams to really sift through their players and see who can make things happen on the field. All too often are players overlooked and not given the opportunity to excel and show their true potential. With T.O. no longer in Dallas, it’s time for the Cowboy’s players to really step it up.

    • bags030404

      Many times with the amount of money teams spend on premiere players, many are over looked. The time is now to find who on this team can perform. Those that cannot should be shown the door!

  • http://www.brysontreece.com Doran Palmer

    You know Bags, that’s a really good point. Teams are spending so much money on players out there that the talent pool is kind of skewed. I mean look at Haynesworth – he played his ass off during two contract years in a row, but what if he slacks off now? It was a voiced concern all over the league when there were rumors that he’d be the 100 million dollar man about what a risk that was for a guy like him.

    He always comes to play, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he at least presented a good coincidence by doing so during contract years. If he slacks off now and doesn’t play like he has the past two years, even if there are other guys on the team that play better than he does, because of his contract he’ll be the one starting.

    Just as Jonathan pointed out with the playbook changing from deep and slow developing plays to shorter and quicker plays with TO gone – having TO here prevented slower guys from getting as many opportunities. Look at Crayton, the guy has great hands but isn’t a speedy receiver. Most of the time when he caught the ball it was only after Romo had waited for TO to get open and he didn’t.

  • Jonathan

    Anybody care to conduct a study measuring the productivity of players after being awarded a decent contract? I’d really be interested to see the results of that.

  • http://www.brysontreece.com Doran Palmer

    Yes sir Jonathan, I’d be mighty interested to see that as well.

    I’d be more interested to see Ken Hamlin do better this year though, since he’s the one guy on our team that flopped the year after getting his contract. Maybe it really was Roy Willy screwing him up. I hope.

  • Jonathan

    I’m giving Ken Hamlin the benefit of the doubt. I think I may have mentioned this in an earlier comment: 1. Our pass defense finished the year ranked 5th in the league and FS was the only position that wasn’t an injury/suspension turnstile in our secondary. 2. Ken Hamlin is the QB of the defense. That means Hamlin was responsible for ensuring that everyone was in the correct position. Considering that he was dealing with several rookies and subpar SS’s, it’s easy to see why he didn’t have his best year. 3. Most of the criticism that is being levied on Hamlin are the result of two plays in the 4th quarter against the Baltimore Ravens. If Hamlin makes those critical endgame tackles, chances are the Cowboy’s would have made the play-offs, and since the Eagles game results wouldn’t have mattered, the Cowboy’s would have probably kept several starters off the field, including Romo. So who know’s what would have happened from there, but I do know that we probably wouldn’t be hearing too much criticism of Hamlin’s play.

  • http://www.brysontreece.com Doran Palmer

    I was thinking that Hamlin wasn’t performing well enough since week three or four, I forget which. The runs from Baltimore were the result of several guys out of position presnap, Hamlin just couldn’t wrap up the bigger backs.

  • Jonathan

    The significant difference, statistically speaking, from 07 to 08 is interceptions (2007 – 5/2008 – 1). In term’s of overall tackles and solo tackles he actually improved. I think the dip in interceptions might be due to teams not needing to go deep on the Cowboy’s considering the 10 yard cushion our CB’s were giving WR’s. In fact, only 7 passes for the entire season went above 40 yards, which ties for 6th place in the league. There were 37 passes that went beyond 20 yards in 08 and the Cowboys were tied for 3rd in the league.

    What specifically about his play do you feel declined from 07 to 08? To me, in many cases, he was a bright spot on defense, laying the proverbial wood on quite a few players if my memory serves me correctly. Though, admittedly, my specific memories of games and his play in particular is fading with the advance of the new season.

  • http://www.brysontreece.com Doran Palmer

    And that’s where I’m at on it too, they are fading and most have faded out.

    I remember seeing him a little late getting to plays and being out of position a couple of times. But as Bags has pointed out to me a few times now, Hamlin had to compensate for poor SS play a lot more in 08 than in 07.

    So I’m not sure if he slacked off or if he just wasn’t in as good of a position to stand out. I just hope we find out this year because Sensabaugh should be able to hold his own quite well, compared to Roy Willy and Keith Davis.

  • Jonathan

    I can’t wait to see the results. I think it’s a safe assumption that we can expect quite a few more interceptions for the Cowboy’s defense. Of course, that isn’t saying much.