If there is one takeaway from Super Bowl XLVIII, it is that defense still wins championships. While the cliche is extremely cheesy, it is true. In a battle of the best offense versus the best defense, the latter came out on top. The Seahawks were the best defensive unit in the NFL, and most of their stars are still on rookie contracts.
While the Dallas Cowboys finished last in nearly every defensive category, there is reason to believe that this defense can be much better in 2014 than how it did in 2013. In fact, the Seahawks also employ a 4-3 scheme just like the Cowboys. In this article, I will outline how the Cowboys can build a dynasty similar to how Seattle has built theirs.
Salary Cap issues
With so many talented players, it is believed that the Seahawks are paying a ton of money to keep all of them. Let’s take a look at some contracts from some of Seattle’s key players on defense:
(all stats courtesy of spotrac.com)
- Richard Sherman – $555,606
- Bobby Wagner – $1,076,950
- K.J. Wright – $631,500
- Walter Thurmond – $610,875
- Byron Maxwell – $538,363
- Malcolm Smith – $521,475
These are six key players from this vaunted defense. Added up, these six playmakers combine to around 7 million a year. In 2013, the Cowboys paid Jay Ratliff around 7 million to not even play a single snap! Take that into perspective for a second. While Ratliff was an excellent player for the Cowboys for many years in the 3-4, his body took a toll after playing as an undersized nose tackle in the 3-4. Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner were two of the best players at their respective positions for the past few years. In fact, the Super Bowl MVP made a little more than half-a-million in 2014.
The idea here is to draft well. Obviously, every NFL team is trying to draft well. But, there is something the Seahawks do every year compared to what the Cowboys don’t do. The Seahawks tend to take red-flag players from prestigious programs late in the draft. The Cowboys did this last year when they drafted DeVonte Holloman. The South Carolina product played great when he wasn’t injured.
Richard Sherman was a fifth round pick out of Stanford, and Malcolm Smith was a seventh round pick out of USC. Both players come from schools with great bloodlines. Bobby Wagner was one of the best college football tacklers of all time, as he broke records during his time at Utah State.
In the 2015 offseason, the Seahawks will have to decide who they want to pay big money to. In that year, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons, K. J. Wright, and Richard Sherman will all be set to be free agents. While the Seahawks have some decisions to make, that is the last thing on their mind right now. The narrative for the Seahawks is draft players who fit their and scheme and their philosophy.
What Am I Getting At?
When you look at the Dallas Cowboys, the first thing you see is their long injury list. The talent is there with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, and Brandon Carr. But, the Cowboys seem to always underachieve. That has been the case with Dallas ever since Bill Parcells left town. I’m actually one of the few supporters of Jason Garrett, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect.
Jerry Jones needs to let Garrett coach this team. While Cowboys fans wish it would happen, Jerry Jones will not give his general manager status. Jones is one of the best owners in sports, but he clearly lacks the skills to be a top general manager. Jason Garrett’s philosophy is to draft the “right kind of guys”, otherwise known in Dallas as RKG’s. This means that the Cowboys are willing to take small-school players if they want to win and compete. That identity is something that is truly valued, but Cowboys fans know that sometimes small-school players just don’t have the ability to compete in the NFL.
For the Cowboys to emulate Seattle’s success, they must take chances on red-flag players and change the philosophy in Dallas. A change in philosophy could change the scenery of how things have been in the past few years—mediocre. Jerry Jones has to let Jason Garrett breath and let him work. Interfering with Garrett is affecting what the coaching staff is trying to do—win. While it may never happen, the Dallas Cowboys need to mimic what the Seattle Seahawks did in 2013, and it all starts with defense.