Brandt: Changes Needed For Cowboys To Return To Glory

Gil Brandt is a revered football man thanks to his role as the only VP of player personnel the Cowboys knew for the first 30 years of the franchise’s existence. The team won a pair of Super Bowls in the 1970s and three more in the 1990s, but has just one postseason victory since 1996. Accordingly, Brandt endorsed a “five-point, four-year plan to help the Cowboys return to glory” on

  1. Hire a director of football operations
    Brandt credits Jerry Jones for his willingness to spend and spend big in an effort to win, but politely and eloquently echoes what many have said for years: Jones is in over his head as a football decision maker. Says Brandt: “This is why Jones would do well to hire an NFL insider — a veteran front office figure with a background in personnel and preferably general-manager experience — to direct the football side of the business, specifically with regard to scouting players.”
  2. Refocus the draft strategy
    Brandt says the team has hurt itself by too often prioritizing need over value in the draft: “The Cowboys would likely improve their draft yield by first looking for the most talented player and then considering need. In the past, they’ve hampered themselves by focusing on filling roster holes rather than taking the best prospect available, leading them to sometimes reach for players. Picking a prospect ahead of where his rating suggests he should be picked often leads to trouble.”
  3. Turn up the heat on the quarterback hunt
    Brandt says the team is “set for now” with 34-year-old Tony Romo, but the time is now to look for his successor, calling this “an ideal year to grab a quarterback.”
  4. Spend more carefully
    Brandt insists the team must improve its contract valuation in order to avoid overpaying veterans (a consequence of poor drafting), entering into endless contract restructures, incurring dead money and hamstringing itself financially. Brandt warns, “Dallas should focus on getting the situation under control…. The team’s approach to staying under the cap has been driven largely by the tactic of re-working contracts and pushing the pain off to future years, likely with the expectation that the cap will continue to rise. But it would be better not to borrow so much against the future.”
  5. Cement a franchise identity
    Brandt asserts, “Great organizations have a solid identity and don’t change with the wind. They don’t shift their schemes suddenly or make erratic changes in strategy, because they have a carefully considered plan to begin with. This comes from taking a consistent approach to the draft, contracts and what you do on the football field — and that’s where the director of football operations would come in.”

In closing, Brandt advocates “taking a proactive approach” to analytics — he credits the Jaguars, in particular, in this department — and believes, “Statistical analysis has the potential to change the league in the same way that the advent of computer technology did 25 years ago, and keeping up with that can ensure that the Cowboys continue growing and getting better in a grounded, smart way.”

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4 comments on “Brandt: Changes Needed For Cowboys To Return To Glory

  1. Pete F

    Wow! So all they have to do is hire a smart GM, draft well, spend wisely, get a great QB, and stay consistent? Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this?

    • dc21892

      The problem is Jones thinks he can do all that by himself, and he just can’t.

  2. Jimmy Sherman

    Jerry Jones will never give up control of the team, so the rest of the post is dead space. I’m convinced he has some sort of plan set up to control the team after he dies.

    • Ben-Dessa Anderton

      Stephen Jones.

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