Will The Cowboys’ Chemistry Experiment Pay Off?


Like a lot of armchair general managers, I had assumed that the Cowboys were going to sign WR Dez Bryant to a long-term deal and franchise RB DeMarco Murray.

We couldn’t have been more wrong.

This off-season has had several bizarre twists and turns.  And that’s saying something. The Dallas Cowboys have long been a franchise that courts controversy and counter-intuitive methods.  Until recently, it had made the Cowboys a laughingstock across the league.

But then 12-4 happened.  Then they beat the Lions in the wild card round in stirring come-from-behind fashion.  And it may have gone even further had it not been for this.  Despite that, and for the first time in ages, Cowboys fans can openly show hope without being laughed at.

Say what you will about Cowboys nation, but one thing you can’t question is our loyalty.  We’ve put up with such a spell of poor-to-mediocre play, and somehow Jerral Wayne Jones has kept his monument to himself in Arlington, TX filled to the rafters. Sometimes to his team’s detriment.

Also, somewhere along the way, it seems as though the actual football guys started pulling the personnel strings on draft day.  Tyron Smith in 2011. Travis Frederick in 2013.  Zack Martin in 2014.  It was a long-overdue commitment to keeping Tony Romo upright that has changed this team’s fortunes.

It wasn’t overnight, but if you told me last September that the Cowboys were going to win 12 regular season games and look like a serious Super Bowl contender, I would’ve laughed and asked for some of whatever you had been smoking.

The surprising rise of play still didn’t do anything to mitigate the sting of losing the divisional playoff game to Packers, though.  It was the ultimate “footballus interruptus“. They were on such a roll.  And to this day, I can’t recall ever being prouder of a Cowboys team than I was of last year’s squad.

Even though I was proud of the nineties heyday teams, they were so singularly talented that you could see the greatness coming.  They were a nascent dynasty in the lead-up to 1992-1993.  And then when the winning started, it was such a beautiful thing to watch.

Cowboys fans know championship-caliber football when we see it.  2014-2015 was the first glimmer of something special (with all due respect to Bill Parcells).

Last year’s team was so resilient, so cohesive.  Every time they stumbled, they got up. They plowed through December when that month has historically been a house of horrors and late-season collapses.

They weren’t just beating teams.  They were smashing them offensively.  The only thing that made a couple contests shaky was the smoke-and-mirrors defense. The offense was simply running so efficiently that it could often hide the defense’s warts.  I even joked on my Facebook account that this is how I felt when the Cowboys won.

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Enter the new elements to the Cowboys’ compound.

Greg Hardy, Byron Jones, Randy Gregory, La’el Collins, welcome to Valley Ranch.

In the case of Byron Jones, by all accounts, he is a leader and a guy who will fit right in with head coach Jason Garrett’s “Right Kinda Guys” philosophy.  He’s a big, physical corner who will likely improve the secondary.

The horrific death of La’el Collins’s ex-girlfriend seems to be nothing more than a very unfortunate circumstance.  The guy passed a lie-detector test, and hopefully he’ll be able to put this behind him in the coming weeks and months.

With Randy Gregory, it just seems that the kid can’t lay off the thai stick.  It will be troublesome if he can’t stay clean.  He is a talented guy, no doubt worthy of a higher slot in the draft.  Hopefully, his mental health and/or lack of discipline don’t derail his career.

Here’s the conundrum, though.  First time he gets a sack-fumble to seal a win for the Cowboys in the fourth quarter, I’m gonna cheer.  It’s in my DNA. You’re deluding yourself if you don’t think you will, too.

And that brings us to Greg Hardy.  I hold a special contempt in my soul for dudes who beat their wives or girlfriends.  Since he’s been convicted of brutally beating then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, he’s also had that conviction overturned when she simply didn’t show up to court.  He paid her to go away, and that she did.

And that beating was a result of Hardy being mad about her prior relationship to “rapper”, Nelly.  What kind of insecure SOB does that?

So in a legal aspect, he’s guilty of absolutely nothing. We’re just privy to the facts that he beat her, choked her, and then threw her on a couch with assault rifles.

Couple that with the reports that he’s just not a very good guy, and you have the most volatile ingredient in the Cowboys’ quest to improve upon last season.

Here’s the conundrum, though.  First time he gets a sack-fumble to seal a win for the Cowboys in the fourth quarter, I’m gonna cheer.  It’s in my DNA. You’re deluding yourself if you don’t think you will, too.

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Jason Garrett had to have known what he was getting into when he took the job. He likely knew he’d be periodically castrated by his owner and general manager.  The Greg Hardy signing is the latest ball-lopping he’s had to endure. Such is the job description of the Dallas Cowboys head coach.

For all the talk about those RKG’s, sometimes caution will be thrown to the wind in order to bring in a bad apple (see: Haley, Charles or Jones, Pac-Man).

But it would be unfair of me to omit how he seems to have this team on the right page and the right trajectory.  They have never given up on him. Even the three-straight 8-8 teams played hard to the end.  They just didn’t have whatever “it” was.

Perhaps the thinking goes thusly: With a leadership core that includes Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and (yes) Dez Bryant, some unsavory elements can be brought in and expected to step in line and fly right.

Either way, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.  If the new draft picks and free agent acquisitions pan out, this team will be a scarier bunch than last season’s group proved to be.  If not, this baby may explode in the hangar.

Next: In Hindsight: Zack Martin may be the next Larry Allen