Dallas Cowboys: Shift in philosophy?

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys made a blockbuster trade for Amari Cooper last week. Is this a sign of things to come or just an aberration? Let’s take a look.

The Dallas Cowboys recent trade for Amari Cooper shows that the front office is beginning to approach things a bit differently. A trade for a big name receiver was not in the cards during the start of the offseason, so what changed? What has caused this team to reconsider the way it does things, and will a shift in philosophy follow?

Trading a first-round pick during the current Cowboy era is unheard of. Stephen Jones repeated it over and over again, build through the draft. That mantra was essentially what this team was about in regards to acquiring personnel.

This is how the Dallas Cowboys built their elite offensive and defensive lines, not by trading away for playmakers. The wide receiver position is a bit different though. There are not a ton of receivers that come into this league helping their football team right away. Sure Odell Beckham, JuJu Smith-Schuster, or even Calvin Ridley are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, everyone is a bust.

Now I know what your thinking, why didn’t the Cowboys splurge on Ridley in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft? Simple, the need for a wide receiver did not outweigh the need for a backup to Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

Without the production of first-round pick, Leighton Vander-Esch this season could have already been over. Defensively the addition of LVE has been every bit as important as adding an elite wide receiver. The Dallas Cowboys would also struggle to find an elite linebacker during the middle of the regular season as opposed to finding a receiver who can make a difference.

The Dallas Cowboys showed poise when it came to Seattle Seahawks safety, Earl Thomas. They never overpaid for him and were willing to wait the Seahawks out until an untimely injury basically made the decision for Dallas.

Thomas will be a free agent this offseason and could join the team regardless. The addition of Cooper was not all that shocking as the front office have some big decisions to make in the near future.

Number one, is Dak Prescott their franchise quarterback? Some people say yes, others no, but one thing is clear the Cowboys were not doing everything they can to have him succeed. This is his third year as a pro, think about that. For everyone who compares Dak to Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, or Deshaun Watson, relax, they are not sound comparisons.

Dak is very unique in that he runs the football efficiently, can make deep throws, and has the heart to come up big in late game situations. Dak really isn’t a game manager but a gamer in every sense of the word. If the bright lights are on he shows up, you cannot discount that. An interesting thing to note however is that the addition of Cooper puts Prescott and essentially Jason Garrett right under the microscope.

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You better believe if Cooper struggles for targets or is not given plays where he is the primary offensive focal point, there will be more questions about this offensive coaching staff. Prescott is basically entering the make or break stage of his career, so these next two seasons are important.

There is no better way to figure out whether or not Dak is the franchise quarterback the Cowboys need than giving him a weapon like Cooper. Now the Dallas Cowboys can evaluate Prescott properly now that he has all of the tools to be a star.

Now that does not mean there aren’t questions about Cooper’s production in recent years but at 24 and with two 1,000 plus yard seasons under his belt the Cowboys have to believe that he is a step up from the guys currently on the roster.

I loved the Allen Hurns addition and still, do however he is not the dominant number one guy he was being made out to be, especially not during the first season in a foreign offense. Cooper is that alpha, that big, bad, receiver that goes bump in the night.

Defenses have to account for him, unlike Dez Bryant. During the tail end of his career in Dallas, Bryant was left in one of one coverage because defenses did not deem him a threat. Instead, the focused on stopping the run and smothering Prescott. Something similar happened during Week Seven.

The Dallas Cowboys could not open up any rushing lanes for Ezekiel Elliott because the Redskins did not believe that any of the Cowboys receivers could be consistently effective/productive.

That, in essence, was true, and cost the Cowboys late in the game. I believe as soon as Jerry Jones saw Elliott running into eight, nine, ten-man boxes, he immediately looked to make an upgrade at receiver. It also does not appear that the Cowboys were out of patience with their receiving corps, just out of time.

Cooper was the best wide receiver the Cowboys could have acquired period, throughout the offseason, free agency, and the draft. It is not shocking to me that a move was made prior to the deadline. The Dallas Cowboys’ scouts also had more information on the 2019 draft class which is a very defense-heavy class.

The Cowboys essentially traded for a win now player, instead of a future building block and a ticking clock on some very big personnel decisions is the catalyst for all of this. The team needs to re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones, which will likely be the priority of the offseason.

That should take up about half of their cap space giving Dallas around $30 million to play with. I would expect them to keep up this trend of adding players that can help this football team right now by adding a safety and potentially a starting tight end.

Adding some depth along the offensive line can be done in the draft but finding a number one wide receiver would have been fairly impossible without making some sort of trade. I also get why people are curious about the compensation for Cooper since a first round pick is immensely valuable and other teams would have been fairly interested in acquiring the Cowboys pick.

I just don’t believe that wide receivers like A.J. Green, Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown, or even guys like Jarvis Landry or Mike Evans would have cost so little. With Cooper there is risk but a ton of time to be rewarded.

As far as if this move hints at a change in philosophy, I believe that Dallas will continue to be hyper-aggressive when it comes down to adding personnel that can help this football team win games. They have too, as it is currently the only way to win a Super Bowl, just ask the Philadelphia Eagles (who offered their second-round pick for Cooper).

Next. Dallas Mavericks: Looking to acquire Jimmy Butler?. dark

Dallas will likely continue to look to add players that can help this team in the present rather than the future.

  • Published on 10/29/2018 at 20:00 PM
  • Last updated at 10/29/2018 at 06:47 AM