Help Wanted: Assistant (to the) General Manager
Updated: Feb 18, 2021
The 2019 Dallas Cowboys were the NFL's equivalent to the former hit NBC series "The Office." I get it. You may disagree: The sitcom starring the beloved Steve Carrell actually had great success in this century. Point taken. "The Office" was beloved by most. True. But when you look closer, you'll see that the Michael Scott we all have grown to love and binge-watch on Netflix may have actually been modeled after the ever-so-polarizing Jerry Jones, owner and general manager of the world's richest franchise in sports.
Let's examine the facts here. Both Michael and Jerry are managers that make questionable business and personal decisions, attracting all sorts of attention and laughs. Both are caricatures of an entity that enjoyed a wildly successful run. Both have kept their franchises financially strong despite what many would see as a lack of sound organizational structure or decision making.
Now if you're not a fan of "The Office," this analogy is more than likely lost on you. That's okay, but I'll need you to do me a favor: Finish reading this article, go to Netflix, and watch all 9 seasons...what are you thinking?
Saying that the 2020 NFL season is an important one for the front office in Dallas would be a huge understatement. The decisions made this year will be the activating shove of a line of dominoes that will have significant implications for the teams success for the next decade. For this reason, Cowboys fans must call for Jerry and Stephen Jones to have as much help as possible to make the most informed decisions -- decisions that will almost certainly make the Cowboys a fantasy GM's dream for years to come OR cause the fantasy well to dry up sooner rather than later.
Although hardened cynics have had a field day with the Cowboys decision-making for the better part of 20 years, the team has actually done things "the right way" over the past handful of years. They've traded in emotion-based drafting for a strategic building of a team that can have success in today's NFL. They've built their trenches, creating offensive and defensive lines that are respected by opponents. From there, the running game has had increasing success since 2014, when former RB DeMarco Murray had one of his best seasons. And since being drafted 4th overall in 2016, Ezekiel Elliot has earned 2 rushing titles in his first 3 years in the league. As it goes for teams with strong running games, the passing game has often benefitted, allowing Dak Prescott to slide in and have success after Tony Romo's reign as the signal caller in Dallas. The defensive side of the the ball, though has been up and down, which is mirrored by their inconsistent play on the field. They have talent there. They just can't seem to get their act together for a whole season. Maybe that changes in 2020 with a new coaching staff.
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the most well-rounded, talented, and young rosters in the National Football League. There is no way around it. One must imagine that the league (and fantasy managers) are incredibly happy with this fact. The NFL is just more fun when the Cowboys are contending.
However, we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. The Cowboys return to true relevancy may be short-lived. That is, of course, depending on what Jerry does next.
The clock on Dak Prescott's impending contract extension is ticking loudly. The first round of chicken finally came to end in mid-July when Dak decided to sign his franchise tag tender, earning him 31.4 million dollar contract for this upcoming season. Zeke and Amari have already been paid handsomely by the Jones family. The trade for Amari Cooper during the 2018 season was just the spark the Cowboys needed, as his arrival was the catalyst for what ended up being a strong run that led them to a division title and a playoff win that year. His value to the offense cannot be understated. Dak made an even bigger leap as a passer last year under OC Kellen Moore. Prescott plays better with Cooper there - plain and simple. The stats don't lie: completion percentage, passing yards per game, passing touchdowns, and yards per attempt all increased since Cooper's arrival.
As mentioned, Zeke got his contract and is an integral part of what the Cowboys do. Many were surprised that the Cowboys prioritized getting the deal with Elliott done before Dak, in a league where loyalty to running backs is decreasing by the day (Sure, the hold out during training camp lit the proverbial fire under the Cowboys collective backside). Many, such as myself, argue that Zeke's ability as a runner paired with the Cowboys strong offensive line play have helped to make Dak's transition into the league a relatively smooth one. Dak has taken advantage of that. The passing game was opened up in 2019 and the surprise addition of first round pick Cee Dee Lamb should only accelerate the passing game in 2020.
So what will Jerry and son Stephen do after this season? This, obviously, remains to be seen. The eventual answer to this, however, will have long-lasting effects on Dallas in reality and fantasy.
Hypothetically speaking, let's say that Dak has a great year statistically, the Cowboys make the playoffs, and have a good showing while there. That scenario would lead most to believe that the Cowboys and Dak finally reach a deal before the 2021 season. The longer they wait, the more money I think we would expect to be on the table, accounting for the increase in available salary cap space. As we seen time and time again, when many Quarterbacks sign for big money and are no longer on their "cheap rookie deals," teams tend to start on a decline. There are exceptions, but not so much lately. Does Dak strike you as an exception? He has had success, and his numbers are improving, but is it enough to carry a franchise when other positions on the roster will undoubtedly suffer due to a large chunk of the financial pie missing. That is the the nearly 40 million dollar question that Jerry and Stephen need to answer.
2020 will be a good year for Dallas Cowboys in fantasy. I am high on Dak, Zeke is my number 2 ranked RB, and the pass catchers - come on...Cooper, Gallup, Lamb. I even like Blake Jarwin to find some success with Witten's departure this year. They will be tough to stop on offense. INVEST IN THIS OFFENSE.
As for 2021 and beyond, we'll see what the Jones family does. Here's to hoping they can sustain Dallas as fantasy factory.
Oh, and by the way - here's a hot take:
McCarthy comes in as head coach. He wants to see what he has in Dak this year under the franchise tag to avoid a long term commitment.
Maybe the season comes to an end and McCarthy has not completely fallen in love with Dak, but are there any viable options available? Anyone McCarthy is familiar with?
The Packers did take QB Jordan Love in the first round this year. In fact, they moved up to get him.
Could Aaron Rodgers be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in 2021? It's food for thought that I know Jerry Jones would be salivating over.
Imagine the fantasy implications...
At the end of the day, if Jerry Jones and son Stephen Jones can't make this work for the future of the franchise, they're just going to look like a couple of boobs...That's what she said...