Commentary

Deal with it -- Cowboys are rebuilding

Jason Garrett's subtle reality check allows team to build a foundation for the future

Updated: August 31, 2011, 4:37 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- As of Monday, those of you with delusions of grandeur can stop dreaming about the Dallas Cowboys playing in the Super Bowl.

The playoffs? Nope. Not this season.

[+] EnlargeAndre Gurode
AP Photo/Eric GayThe Cowboys removed any doubt that they're rebuilding when they cut five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode.
Your Dallas Cowboys are in full-fledged rebuilding mode just like the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns.

Hallelujah.

Jason Garrett removed any doubt about the Cowboys' status Monday when he signed off on cutting center Andre Gurode, a 10-year veteran and five-time Pro Bowl player.

The Cowboys expect to have two rookies--- first-round pick Tyron Smith and seventh-round pick Bill Nagy -- and second-year center Phil Costa, an undrafted free agent, starting on their offensive line when the season begins Sept. 11 against the New York Jets.

No team with championship aspirations enters a season with essentially three rookies in its offensive line.

The Cowboys, as currently constructed, will win six to eight games.

And that's OK because instead of chasing fool's gold, Garrett is actually building a foundation for the future.

For years, Jerry Jones has convinced himself that his Cowboys were a couple of key players away from winning another title when that's never really been the case. It's certainly not true this season.

If we're honest, Green Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Chicago are all much better than Dallas.

The New York Giants are slightly better, and none of us will be surprised if St. Louis, Detroit and, maybe, Minnesota surpass the Cowboys by the end of the season.

Finally, someone has convinced Jerry his team isn't nearly as talented as he thinks.

Jerry is great at living in denial, in part, because he's as much a fan of the Cowboys as those folks who plunk down their hard-earned money for guided tours of Cowboys Stadium.

Truth: Dallas is 112-112 with one playoff win since 1997. During those 14 seasons, the Cowboys have employed six head coaches and failed to post consecutive 10-win seasons.

Garrett, though, has forced Jerry to deal in reality -- not what he wants reality to be.

Don't ever expect to hear Garrett, Jerry or vice president Stephen Jones refer to this as a rebuilding season because that's comes with negative connotations in the world of professional sports.

Besides, they don't want the players entering the season with lowered expectations, especially guys such as Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware and Tony Romo, who are in their athletic prime.

Perhaps Garrett and Jerry will refer to is as a transition period. Maybe they'll find another euphemism, or simply gloss over it in hopes people will quit asking about it.

None of that matters.

Don't listen to what Jerry or Garrett say. Instead, simply study their actions.

"We're trying to put the best 53 together and the best eight guys on the practice roster," said Garrett, "so we can be as good as we can be now and going forward.

"We don't want to live in the past. Sometimes players get evaluated based on what they've done in the past."

Marc Colombo. Marion Barber. Roy Williams. Leonard Davis. Gurode. Each were starters on the Cowboys' disappointing 6-10 team last season, and each has been released since the end of the lockout, shaving off more than $25 million in salary from the Cowboys' payroll.

Some of those moves occurred because the Cowboys have salary-cap issues; others were made because age and injury have robbed players such as Colombo of their skill set.

Igor Olshansky is probably the next veteran to get the ax, as he should.

Just so you know, the Cowboys are going to have salary-cap issues again next season, so don't expect them to be big players in free agency come March.

Bottom line: If you're going to lose, you might as well do it with passionate, tough-minded young players with the potential to get better.

You can't rebuild halfway. The entire organization must be committed to change.

It is.

Jerry trusts Garrett, and Garrett believes Jerry won't fire him before the process is complete.

The tough times are coming while Garrett puts together the roster he wants. In the end, the Cowboys will be better for it.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE

MORE NFL HEADLINES