The missing elements in Cowboys attempts at championship roster building

First point before anything else- yes, you must have talent to win in the NFL. But talent alone is never enough to win a championship.

Putting together a championship level roster is so much more than just collecting talent. Teams that win SBs or even conference championships are not just talented. They are a real TEAM, meaning their collective talent is greater than each individual talent on the team. It is why a championship team is not always the most talented roster, but the most effective roster as a complete unit. Another term for this is complementary football”.

The Dallas Cowboys had enough talent to win 12 regular season games 3 straight seasons. But the missing element is their inability as a complete roster to overcome their collective weaknesses. Here is a short list of the Cowboys‘ team weaknesses that cannot just be fixed with individual talent.


  • Culture (aka Unnecessary distractions) in a recent interview, Troy Aikman mentioned how the Cowboys as a team have to overcome some inherent cultural problems other teams don’t. Like watching tours of team facilities happening while they are trying to prepare each week. Like film crews from Netflix filming the owner for a “special” while the team was preparing for the GB playoff game. Aikman called this “unnecessary distractions“. Troy has mentioned after Jimmy left, you never knew what celebrity was going to show up with Jerry at practice. It creates a circus of distractions. And if the owner is the one doing it, who can correct this?
  • Lack of understanding on collective roster building- one of the fun parts of being a fan is pretending we could select the right talent for our favorite team. “I like this player. He’s really good.” It’s like fantasy football. Just draft the most talented guys you can. But the problem with that is championship rosters require the talent to make a collective whole that is better than its individual parts. Otherwise all you have is an All Star team without a team concept. Sometimes it feels like this front office drafts like a fantasy football draft.
  • Understanding collective complementary football- the Cowboys have had some similar problems for decades.
    • One easy example is the team’s long standing inability to stop the run. Really improving this requires multiple players that collectively as a unit make our run stopping ability much better. What does our FO do? They draft a guy in round one thinking “we’ve addressed our inability to stop the run”. Or they trade for a decent run stuffer like Jonathan Hankins. They don’t seem to ever think about needing a collective unit that can stop the run.
    • Dak Prescott is MOST EFFECTIVE with a good running game. Yet somehow this FO doesn’t draft a RB last year or recognize their aging OL is no longer great for running the ball. That oversight killed this team against the better teams last year.

So again, the missing elements for building a championship roster can be boiled down to this:

  1. Eliminate unnecessary distractions.
  2. Recognize talent alone isn’t enough. It takes a collective whole, not just individual parts.
  3. Build a roster that complements and supports key player strengths and covers also for their weaknesses.

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