Can the Super Bowl Seahawks be a blueprint for the Cowboys?
The Seattle Seahawks just won the Super Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys haven't even been to the playoffs since the 2009 season.
There's just as wide a gap between their organizational philosophies. But that doesn't mean the Cowboys can't look at the blueprint of how the Seahawks were built and learn some things.
First of all, forget copying Seattle's management structure. Jerry Jones isn't giving up his GM title, so from the start there's no way the Cowboys can duplicate the way the Seahawks built their team.
But they can duplicate some of the things the Seahawks have accomplished. The biggest is that the Seahawks had a vision for their team and stuck to it. The Cowboys seem to change offensive and defensive schemes on a yearly basis.
The Seahawks were built on being a physical defense and a ball-control offense and they've stuck to that plan. The Cowboys have spent money and draft picks on defense, but have routinely changed coordinators and defensive schemes. Offensively, the Cowboys have increasingly become a finesse team, even when they've had success pounding the running game.
It would be impossible for the Cowboys to adopt the Seahawks' mold overnight, but it's not asking too much to have a singular vision instead of Jerry Jones' scattershot method of revamping parts of the team as needed.
A lot has been written and said about the Seahawks have proving you don't need a first-round or high-dollar quarterback to win a Super Bowl. While there's a nugget of truth to that, it's a major reduction of Russell Wilson.
Sure, Wilson was drafted in the third round, but only because he's 5-11 and not 6-3. Wilson was a great quarterback prospect coming out of college and he's continued to be a great quarterback. He's especially great at what the Seahawks ask him to do, which is to not make turnovers but keep the chains moving by any means necessary.
If you're going to use Wilson's success to make the case the Cowboys have done things wrong with Tony Romo, you're arguing against yourself. Romo wasn't even drafted. So the "you don't need a first-rounder" theory still applies to the Cowboys.
But you do need a quarterback who takes care of the ball, which is something Romo has struggled with in crucial situations. And it helps the Seahawks' cap flexibility to have a quarterback who doesn't cost very much.
Wilson, if he continues at this level, will one day take a huge chunk of cap space. He's been a bargain from day one, while the Cowboys lost some of their bargain years with Romo when he spent 2 Â½ seasons on the bench.
Where the Seahawks have the advantage over the Cowboys in the draft is in the lower rounds. The Seahawks find gems in the lower rounds while the Cowboys struggle to find anyone who can play that was drafted below the third round.
The Seahawks' superior secondary was built with fifth-rounders Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell was a sixth-round pick. Those three starters are paired with No. 1 pick Earl Thomas.
Another example: Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was a seventh-round pick.
Of course, it helps to have a recent college coach in Pete Carroll who has a good grasp of the talent coming into the league. The Cowboys used to have a guy like that in Jimmy Johnson.
Scanning the Cowboys' roster, and it's hard to find an impact player taken later than the third round. Orlando Scandrick is the standout, a fifth-rounder who has become the team's most reliable cornerback â better than former first round picks Mike Jenkins and Morris Claiborne.
Doug Free was a fourth-round pick and return man Dwayne Harris was a sixth-rounder, and that's basically it among impact players in the lower rounds. The Cowboys have found better luck with undrafted free agents than in rounds three through seven. That's no way to build depth.
The Cowboys have made changes recently that might result in getting better players in the draft, or at least players better suited to their systems. Will McClay is now in charge of the draft board and that should lead to a more organized draft process.
What happens when you draft well? It leaves you more salary cap room. Young drafted players â who see the field â cost much less than free agents and high-priced veterans.
The Cowboys are so strapped by the salary cap right now that they can't address critical needs, such as the defensive line, through free agency.
What did Seattle do last year when it wanted to bolster an already salty defensive front? They signed free agents Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. The Cowboys couldn't do that.
The Cowboys also can't duplicate the way the Seahawks were built, step-by-step. The organizational differences are too great. However, if there's one thing the Cowboys can borrow from the Seahawks' blueprint, it's to have a blueprint in the first place. And stick to it.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire