Todd Archer's column on ESPNDallas.com notes that the Dallas Cowboys' focus during the draft, as it has been for much of the offseason, was on the defensive side of the ball, and that it's an unusual thing for a team whose head coach is also the offensive coordinator. I would argue that the reason is because defense was clearly the Cowboys' biggest problem last season, and surely even an offensive-minded head coach like Jason Garrett would be able to see that, with or without a Princeton education.
But Archer's point is that the willingness of Garrett to allow this offseason to be taken over by defense speaks to his own confidence about his ability to lead the offense. He has reason to believe in skill-position players such as Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and, if healthy, DeMarco Murray. And the addition of new offensive line coach Bill Callahan as well as a couple of free-agent offensive linemen should help address the biggest problem the offense had last season -- the line. Archer reaches the following conclusion:
With a healthy Romo (he played six games needing a painkilling injection for a broken rib), a healthy Bryant and healthy Austin (they suffered through quadriceps and hamstring injuries) and perhaps most important a healthy Murray, who had 789 yards in seven full games as the every-down back before suffering an ankle injury, the Cowboys' offense should be better in 2012.
That's what's Garrett is betting on. Those players … and himself.
I think this is a perfectly reasonable conclusion. If they get give Romo enough time to operate the offense, he has more than enough weapons at his disposal to do it at a high level. When Murray was healthy last year and running as the every-down back, it was one of the better offenses in the league. If the line play is improved (and it really only had one direction to go), then the offense is the least of Dallas' 2012 problems, and it's completely sensible for them to operate this way. That's why the big money this offseason has been spent on the defense (specifically cornerback), which is where the major improvement needs to happen.
My issue with the Cowboys' draft had nothing to do with its heavy focus on defense but rather what I consider a failure to maximize the value of the picks. I wrote plenty on this over the weekend and I'm sure I'll do so again. But at bottom, the standpoint that defense was a priority this offseason and in this draft was the appropriate one from which to approach things for the Cowboys. They correctly identified their problem. What remains to be seen is how well they did to address it.