With rumors swirling that DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin – among other Dallas Cowboys – might get cut, Tiki Barber wonders whether it’s time to shake up a roster that has produced three consecutive 8-8 seasons.
“To be honest with you, I’m not sure if it’s quite that time yet, but I do know some of the players are reaching that threshold to where tough decisions will have to be made,” former Cowboys great Emmitt Smith said on The Morning Show. “But I do know this much: There’s been a lot of turnover in the coaching staff (over the last few seasons). That in itself creates enough drama or enough concern for a player like me. I’ve been in situations (like that), and so I know as a player (that) you’re looking for that stability. And right now, I’m not sure if the players themselves truly feel that stability with so many coaches (coming and going).”
Even if Ware, Austin and others remain in Dallas, the rumors will likely take take a toll on those players – and the franchise itself.
“It has a psychological affect on the players themselves,” Smith said. “For me, I’m a little concerned in terms of what the expectations will be for this year – and whether or not we will meet those expectations.”
And just how much of that reflects on owner Jerry Jones? He’s won three Super Bowls – but none since 1995.
“From a GM perspective, I think he’s brought in the right talent,” Smith said. “When it comes down to making that talent work and making the system itself work . . . and doing what you do best and finding what you’ve had the most success with and being consistent about that – to me, I think that’s the direction I would like to see our Cowboys go. And that’s (being balanced) offensively and defensively – being tough up front and being tough on the defensive side of the ball as well.
“To me, when I look at the Seattle Seahawks, they remind me of us back in ’92, ’93 when we started our Super Bowl run,” Smith continued. “And the reason why they remind me of us is because they didn’t turn the ball over a whole lot, they ran the ball effectively, they threw the ball effectively, they played solid defense and their special teams was knockout. And that right there makes up for some of the desire to (want) to throw the ball so much and take advantage of (league rules that favor the passing game).”
In other words, stop putting the onus squarely on Tony Romo. Hand the ball to DeMarco Murray. Play all three phases of the game.
Looking at the NFL Combine, meanwhile, Smith was asked what’s more damaging to a prospect: to be perceived as having poor judgment (like Johnny Manziel), or to be perceived as having a weak motor (like Jadeveon Clowney)?
“Well, first of all, for me, if I’m analyzing as a GM, I’ve got to recognize these are young kids,” Smith said. “These are young men that have been thrust into the limelight, and they have to learn how to deal with that limelight, and sometimes they’re going to make a lot of mistakes. As long as the mistakes are not drug-related (and don’t involve breaking the law), you got to see whether or not this kid has tremendous upside.
“Then I’m going to the tape – because the tape itself says a lot of things about a player. I’m going to watch his motor. I’m going to watch his performance on the football field (and see) whether . . . he’s a gamer or . . . a practice kind of guy. Practice guys are guys that just practice well during practice week, get in the game and cannot perform well. Gamers are guys that may not have a great practice, but once the lights come on, they’re going to shine like prime time. So at the end of the day, that’s what I’m looking for.”
When it comes to Manziel, general managers need to ask themselves a few questions: Can he lead my ball club? Can he be the face of my organization? Can I live with some of the mistakes he might make?
“Every one of these young men has to grow up,” Smith said. “I had to grow up as a player, and I had to mature (into) my role. Some of us get it fairly early, some of us get it a little late. Hopefully what Manziel went through a year ago . . . gave him a glimpse of what it’s like to be the man, and (hopefully it was eye-opening to see) how much of the limelight is shining on you.”