Former Dallas Cowboys All-Pro safety Darren Woodson turns 45 today. The five-time Pro Bowler hasn’t lined up in Dallas’ defensive backfield since 2003.
And the team has struggled to replace him ever since.
During a recent interview, Woodson, an ESPN NFL analyst, explained that the Cowboys have had difficulty replacing him because they haven’t had the "emphasis on the position."
"When you need to fill a position, until you absolutely focus on that position and that need, then you’re not going to do it," Woodson told TheLandryHat.com’s Dan Krupinsky. "Until they get in that mindset that ‘We need to go get a safety’ and isolate two or three guys in the first round, they’re just not going to find that guy that they want."
From 1993 to 1999 Woodson was teammates with Jason Garrett. Garrett has compiled a 29-27 record over his three and a half seasons as Cowboys head coach and the team is without a playoff berth. When asked about the progression Garrett has made as a coach, Woodson focused on the amount of control Garrett has over his football team.
"I think the one thing, the one issue I have with the whole scenario, is that Jason Garrett does not, and let’s call it what it is, I don’t think he has full control of this organization," Woodson said. "His thumb print is not on this organization. It’s, of course, Jerry’s fingerprints all over the place as far as the organization, the team, and in the locker room.
"What I would like to see more so is Jason Garrett be that guy who steps up and within that locker room, he’s the most respected person in that locker room. That’s what we want to see. If you ask any player in that organization who ‘the guy’ is, they’re probably going to say Jerry, to be honest with you. And then Jason. But you can’t be that way.
"It has to be Jason first, and then the rest of the organization. The rest of the coaches and then the GM, owner and so on. I think the only way that Jason Garrett can actually put his imprint on this football team is if they win football games and the leaders within the team actually rally behind him. And that’s it."
Another interesting take form the Woodson Q&A was that he’d like to see four-year veteran safety Barry Church "take full control of that secondary and be the leader, instead of Brandon Carr."
Woodson didn’t give any further explanation on that topic.