Please LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT, or RETWEET …
Talking Cowboys with former Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek on the keys to success for the upcoming season and chance to win a trip to the Allstate Sugar Bowl
It’s been a long time since the Dallas Cowboys have done something special. The ‘Glory Days’ of the 90’s still give Dallas fans a taste of what was once good. Since the Dallas Cowboys last Super Bowl victory on January, 28th 1996, the organization has been through a rocky road full of dismal seasons, like going 5-11 for three consecutive seasons from 2000 to 2002. Then hiring legendary Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells to bring ‘America’s Team’ back to a relevant state of making the post season, and winning at least two division titles after the 02 season when Wade Phillips took over for Parcells in 07.
The Phillips experiment was nothing more than a tease to Cowboys fans. The 07 season was the biggest tease, winning the division, going 13-3 in the regular season, locking up home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs only to get excited by rival New York who went on to win their first of two Super Bowls in five seasons. The Cowboys would win the NFC East division again in 09 and capture their first playoff victory since the 96 season. But getting crushed by the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round blew out their Super Bowl aspiration candle.
Since their last playoff berth in 09, Wade Phillips was fired midway through the 2010 season, making Jason Garrett the next head coach of the historic franchise. And since Garrett’s been the head coach, the Cowboys have missed the playoffs with heartbreaking losses with the season on the line in the final week.
Year after year, the body of talent on the Cowboys roster has been in place to potentially be a contender amongst the Top-Dogs of the league. But muffs, miffs and miscues have been the deciding factors in route to sad endings of a story that has fiddled with Dallas fans of having a shed of glimmer hope of something potentially big happening.
From quarterback Tony Romo’s late season blunders, to poor coaching and a slew of other undisciplined factors that will throw you into Footballs Lava-Pit, it was time for me to search and find someone that could give me or any other Cowboys fan the little
extra’s, the thoughts from the mind of someone who has a great deal of experience of playing the game.
On Friday, August 30th, I got the chance to speak to a Champion and member of the Cowboys 90’s Dynasty team, former Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek over the phone. Novacek was a vital key player that contributed at a high level in helping the Cowboys dominant run, winning three Super Bowls in a four year span.
At the beginning of our ten minute conversation, I started off by touching upon one of the key concerns of the team, the offensive line that has been in disarray over the last three seasons.
I asked him about the new outlook by drafting center Travis Frederick, the rookie starting center, a healthy Demarco Murray, changes on the offensive line, particularly on the interior, the positive influence that Bill Callahan has had on offensive lineman, and if the offensive line can improve enough to help Tony Romo and gang get over the hump?
“They don’t have to be great. Don’t get me wrong, you need to be good, but most importantly, they need to become a unit to play as a unit. Once you become a unit, you make less-mistakes and become more disciplined in executing in your blocking schemes, said Novacek.”
Secondly, we got into the change from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense with Monte Kiffin running his Tampa 2 scheme along with Rod Marinelli coaching the defensive line. I told him that I think the personnel they have on the defensive side of the ball fits the 4-3 better than the recent 3-4 scheme. And I asked him what he thought about the change and the potential the new scheme brings to the table?
“The key to the 4-3 defense is your linebackers. Do you have linebackers that can get to the ball? What about the D-lines inside and outside guys? They have the talent upfront and at linebacker with Sean Lee. If you have linebackers that can get after the ball with your inside and outside guys effective upfront, then everything else on the outside will work, said Novacek.”
Certainly, I couldn’t leave out Tony Romo, a media hot topic that’s been perceived as a quarterback that isn’t good enough to take the team over the top. And just like the same old question that hits the media air-ways before the season, I asked him what makes him believe that Romo can get the job done?
“Well, look at Romo’s QB rating that’s amongst the top in the league in differential to Eli Manning’s or Drew Brees’ rating, and take a look at which quarterbacks team lost them more games when they’ve played at a high level with a high rating. Romo’s team has lost him about 6 to 7 games, while Manning’s or Brees’ team has only lost them about 1 or 2 games. So, is it Romo’s fault for those losses? I’ll answer that you for, no, said Novacek.”
I agree with him. At the same time, I’m not going to discount Romo’s maddening critical mistakes on the grand stage. This is a team game, and the only way Romo will be able to take the Cowboys to the top is if other areas of the team start making key plays to take the burden off of his shoulders. You can’t be 5th all-time in QB rating and 6th all-time in completion percentage by luck. Romo definitely has the skill-traits to get it done, but he and the rest of the team need to get rid of their haunted past in order to rise to the occasion.
The team plays based on the personality of the coach. In Novacek’s day, he played for a hard-nosed, no-nonsense type of coach with Jimmy Johnson running the ship. Now, a player that Novacek played with during the 90’s Jason Garrett is the head coach. Seemingly, Garrett is taking more of an accountability approach, preaching the importance of being a leader since training camp began.
I asked him about the leadership of the team, who’s the leader? How many players do you need on the team to look up to? What personality traits does Jason Garrett have that can transcend to the team to help them become a championship football team?
“You need more than 1 or 2 guys on the team to lead the football team. Everyone needs to be on the same page on all parts of the team. You can’t just have 1 or 2 players for everyone to look up to. Jason is intelligent and has been surrounded by good coaches, coaching staffs that have been successful. If you can get the players to buy into the system, the chance for success increases on winning a championship. He knows what works. I look at Sean Lee, a dedicated hard worker as one of the leaders on the team, and Dez Bryant is picking up on the product. They have a good football team in place with the opportunity for success, said Novacek.”
In order to win a championship, you need to become a disciplined team, a unit that comes together for one purpose, and that’s to raise the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the day. Talent is definitely needed, but what you do with it is the most important part. A nice looking sports car will always look good just standing there, but when it moves and shows off its speed, the action overtakes the looks.
Side Note: Novacek gave me some cool info for everyone to look into with his involvement in the Allstate Tailgate Tour Sweepstakes in which you can enter for a chance to win a trip to the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Simply go to http://allstatecfb.com/ and register for a chance to win!
A look back at Novacek’s career: Novacek played tight end for Wyoming from 1982 to 1984. He was inducted into the Wyoming Hall of Fame in 1993 and College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. Novacek also competed in track and field for Wyoming and was an All-American in the Decathlon. His great deal of athleticism was recognized by many to be the greatest athlete ever at Wyoming. Novacek was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals and then made his way to Dallas Cowboys. He went on to earn five consecutive Pro Bowl trips and three Super Bowl titles with the Dallas Cowboys.