The Dallas Cowboys began laying the groundwork for their surprisingly successful 2014 campaign around this time last year.
Last offseason, the team bid adieu to DeMarcus Ware in a cap move, and saw their reigning sack leader Jason Hatcher depart for the rival Washington Redskins in free agency. They didn’t add any big names in free agency, and they avoided making any really “sexy” picks in the draft in May, beginning with the decision to take guard Zack Martin over Johnny Manziel in Round 1.
The quiet offseason paid off, as Dallas went 12-4 and won the NFC east for the first time since 2009, and Martin went on to earn All-Pro honors and a trip to the Pro Bowl.
ESPN’s Field Yates believes the turnaround began with a shift in philosophy.
“The most important part of their offseason was not restructuring a deal or trading or drafting a player,” Yates wrote recently, via Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. “Sometimes it is an internal philosophical tweak that you will not know about unless you are inside the building. Wasn't Jerry Jones voted the executive of the year? I did not look at their moves last season and say, 'Yep, that is going to happen.' They made a smart move in the first round. [Second-round pick] DeMarcus Lawrence will be a good edge-rusher. They have a decent pipeline of young talent, too.”
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