Cowboys fans, this is the winter of our discontent.
First, the polar vortex just won’t leave. The miserly snowman is supposed to exit this week but he’s digging in, leaving golf sticks to get dustier and dustier.
Moreover, could it get any chillier in Big D?
DeMarcus Ware. The face of the defence for the past decade. Gone. Just like that.
Jason Hatcher. Gone. To the Redskins? That’s a double slap to the face.
Anthony Spencer. Checking out how many Benjamins the Giants want to throw at him. That’d be the triple whack.
And that talent is draining from the league’s worst defence? With no money to refill those pass-rushing needs.
We know who’s to blame. So how does owner/GM/impresario Jerry Jones right the ship? Or at least bail most of the water from the hull?
REBUILD. Say it with me, Jerry. It’s time. To. REBUILD.
It wouldn’t take long. It potentially could be done within two years.
The hardest part would be accepting how fast the window of opportunity is closing for Tony Romo. And that the cast around the quarterback, mainly on the other side of the ball, needs a massive overhaul. One that won’t be accomplished by shuffling salary cap money around from year to year.
Love him or hate him, you have to admit Romo’s past three seasons have been the best of his career. Statistically, they’re the best three seasons of any Cowboys quarterback, Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach included.
In Romo’s first three seasons as a starter, when the team was at its best -- thanks to the input from coach Bill Parcells, Romo was credited with losing 21 fumbles. In the last three seasons, that number was down to 10.
Romo has improved his ball security and pocket awareness while still delivering the big plays and elusiveness that made him such a marked improvement over Drew Bledsoe.
Still, those last three years have delivered a 24-24 regular season mark and an 0-0 playoff resume.
If Romo were to shake off the effects of back surgery and deliver another statistically superb season in 2014, what would the team’s record be? 7-9? 8-8? 9-7?
Anyone think the upside is higher? Not with what’s looming on the defensive side of the ball.
Romo has been durable in his career, starting less than 13 games only once in the past 9 seasons -- missing 10 games in 2010 with a broken collarbone. But he has taken a lot of big shots. Those rib, hand and back injuries accumulate. Should he miss significant time in 2014, the Cowboys’ fate would be sealed.
Thus, here’s the Romo paradigm for the upcoming season: Limited upside with major risk to the downside. And would this scenario change in 2015, when his contract will account for $27.7 million in salary cap money?
Jones made the tough decision to part with Ware. Soon it’ll be time to move on from the last gems of the Cowboys’ Parcells era, Romo and Jason Witten. The question is not if, but when. The earlier that’s realized and accomplished, the more value they would net a franchise in severe need of an infusion of talent.
We have a problem. Houston? What can you give us? A second-rounder this year and next year’s first? Any other offers? Done. Sign Michael Vick to a short-term deal.
Doubt there’s a market for Witten and his contract, but fish around. Seattle could use a pass-catching tight end. Then see what Gavin Escobar can do. If he’s not the heir apparent, and there was little to believe he is from last season’s snapshot, then find out now.
Trading Witten, the franchise's greatest tight end, is not done lightly, but this is the state of emergency facing the Cowboys.
Just like winter needs to release its icy grip, Jones must accept past mistakes and move on. It’s either a slow descent or a fast one: Short-term pain and a chance at a quick recovery or continued irrelevance.
Acquire as many picks as possible and carpet bomb the next couple of drafts. After all, even a blind squirrel finds some acorns.