The Dallas Cowboys 2014 season exceeded expectations and the 2015 season has the fans and organization alike excited about what they might be able to accomplish.
No one could have accurately predicted that the Cowboys would have been as successful as they were in 2014, especially after some of the players they lost.
A longtime fan favorite and one of the faces of the franchise, DeMarcus Ware, departed to join the Denver Broncos. Jason Hatcher was also lost to free agency after being one of the Cowboys' key contributors on the defense in 2013, and starting middle linebacker Sean Lee was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in organized team activities.
Who is the main man?
Many people predicted the Cowboys would be lucky to finish 8-8 as they had the previous few seasons, but the organization was able to put together a team that far exceeded those expectations.
In 2014, the Cowboys not only won the NFC East, but were one controversial play away from advancing to the NFC championship game, after losing to the Green Bay Packers 26-21.
The Cowboys were, however, able to establish many milestones in 2014.
- They finished with a 12-4 record after posting consecutive 8-8 seasons the past few years.
- DeMarco Murray had a record-setting rushing season.
- Tony Romo had one of his best seasons in a Cowboys uniform.
- Dez Bryant had a monster year scoring 16 receiving touchdowns and establishing himself as one of the elite receivers in the NFL.
- The Cowboys were able to go undefeated on the road with a record of 8-0.
After accomplishing so many milestones in 2014, who was responsible for the Cowboys recent success?
Let's take a look at a few of the people within the organization that could possibly be the most responsible for the Cowboys marked improvement.
Jerry Jones is arguably the most recognizable owner in the NFL and also one of the few owners that like to take a hands-on approach when it comes to managing the team. Since purchasing the Cowboys in 1989, Jerry Jones has run the Cowboys as both an owner and a general manager. Jones is known to throw caution to the wind and take chances in free agency and moving up and down the draft targeting players that he covets.
He has seen this tactic both work in his favor as well as blow up in his face in the past. Over the last few years though, Jerry Jones has seemed to become more patient in his approach to both free agency and the NFL draft. Maybe he is becoming more disciplined in his old age or he is starting to relinquish a little bit of his control which has caused conflict in the past. Only time will tell if this is actually a new Jerry Jones were in someone else is responsible for the Cowboys recent success.
Stephen, son of Jerry Jones seems to have taken on an expanded role of the last few years within the Cowboys organization. Maybe he's finally standing up to Jerry Jones and voicing his opinion or perhaps Jerry is only starting to listen and really wishing a little bit of control to his son. Either way, Stephen's involvement can only be viewed as a positive.
Stephen is actually one of the ones who were able to get in Jerry's ear and convince him to draft Zack Martin instead of Johnny Manziel. Manziel is exactly the type of pic that Jerry likes to draft because of his hype coming out of college and because it will help sell Cowboys jerseys. Drafting Martin although not considered a sexy pic has allowed the Cowboys to build perhaps the best offensive line in the NFL. Maybe this is a sign of things to come from Stephen Jones and that Jerry is finally starting to relinquish a little bit of control.
Jason Garrett became the Dallas Cowboys head coach in 2011 after serving as the offensive coordinator since 2007, and briefly serving as the interim head coach after Wade Phillips was fired in 2010. During his tenure as head coach Garrett has tried to implement his philosophy of having the right kind of guys (RKG's) and following "The Process" with the Cowboys.
He is continually preaching about stacking one good day on top of another and so far it seems to be paying off for the Cowboys. The players have been buying into Garrett's philosophy and have become a more successful team because of it.
Garrett believes in creating a healthy competition between all of the positions and that the best player will play no matter their draft status or their contract situation. Garrett was part of the 90s Cowboys dynasty and has tried to re-create a similar roster.
He has built one of the youngest and perhaps the best offensive lines in the NFL during his time as head coach of the Cowboys. Garrett knows the types of players he wants on the team and if he can build a roster anywhere near close to the 90s dynasty teams, he could possibly be the most impactful person in the Cowboys organization.
If I had to choose one person to be the most responsible for the Cowboys recent success it would be Will McClay. If you're not familiar with the name, then you cannot possibly understand the impact that McClay has had on the organization. McClay is a former Arena Football League player and head coach, before rising to the rank of Assistant Director of Player Personnel with the Cowboys.
Unfortunately, the title might not last too much longer if the league starts to take note of the job that McClay has done to help build the Cowboys roster and the players he finds that seem to come out of nowhere. McClay understands the type of players that the Cowboys are looking for to fill the roster and he is meticulous with his scouting, whether it is for the draft, players that could possibly be cut by another team, or players not currently on anyone's roster.
Among McClay's best finds have been Laurent Robinson, Tony Fiammetta, Ernie Sims, Nick Hayden, and George Selvie. All of these players careers were considered to be dead ended until McClay convinced the Cowboys to bring them in.
"It seems like every step of the way he's done a good job for us," said Stephen Jones, the team's executive vice president. "I commend him for the job he did finding guys like Selvie and Nick Hayden and people like that, people that everyone had a shot at but he brought them in."
McClay's time of the Cowboys could possibly be coming to an end if the league starts to take notice of the job he's done helping build the Cowboys roster.
The Cowboys absolutely need to find a way to keep Will McClay because his results have been undeniable and the way he is able to bring in talent to the Cowboys would be nearly impossible to replace.
Will McClay is my own personal choice for who is the most responsible for the Cowboys recent success.