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Why Football Teams are like Ants, and What that Means for the Dallas Cowboys

Do the Dallas Cowboys Have a Problem With Change?

I want to talk ever so briefly about ants. Ants and football players are not that different from one another. First, like football players, ants are strong. The average ant can lift up to three times its body weight.  Secondly, ants are team oriented. Both ants and football players have very specific roles within their communities, and everyone is impacted when that role is not performed well.

Contrary to popular belief, some ants can live decades. The oldest recorded ants have lived up to 30 years- precisely around the time that most NFL players careers come to an end. Lastly, both ants and football players are creatures of habit. They each have their routines which they stick with unless acted upon by an outside force.

There is however one last thing about ants which warrants discussion. They aren’t afraid to make changes. If a member of their community consistently under-performs, causing detriment to the collective group, they get rid of it. Whether it is excommunication from the group, or even throwing the perpetrator off  a high surface (its really cool actually you should google it), ants aren’t afraid to do what it takes to succeed. “What is your point dude? No one cares about ants.” I’m glad you asked.

Although it may take some time because they are creatures of habit, even ants change when they have to. A community of ants that has been stepped on by an angry child two or three times, eventually moves its ant hill somewhere else. When I look at the Dallas Cowboys, I can’t help but notice some things that require change. And I can’t imagine why Dallas hasn’t addressed it. I think its time for the Cowboys to move their ant hill, and throw some of their weak links off a cliff.

Free Agency

I feel like the Dallas Cowboys are always a team of extremes. When they aren’t going 4-12 and at the basement of their division, they are riding the highs of a 13-3 season. One thing is for certain, there is never a dull moment to be a Dallas Cowboys fan. This is how Dallas has chosen to navigate free agency over the last couple seasons.

After spending $50 million dollars on cornerback  Brandon Carr in the 2012 free agency, Dallas has drastically taken its foot off the gas. Made evidenced by the mere 21 million dollars Dallas spent recruiting and retaining 9 players in the 2017 off season (excluding the Terrance Williams contract). Halfway through the NFL season, the effects of Dallas’ penny pinching tactics are in. Three of the Cowboys’ “top” free agency acquisitions Nolan Carroll, Stephen Pea, and Damontre Moore are no longer with the team. Most notable of the three is Carroll, who was signed a three year contract.

I’m not advocating that the Cowboys put all their proverbial eggs into the basket of free agency. However, a more balanced approach within free agency would translate to more on-field success.


The Cowboys aren’t quick to move on from players. This is why Randy Gregory still has a home within the organization. This is why Dallas put up with the shenanigans of Rolando McClain as long as they did. This is why Jerry Jones did pretty much everything within his power to delay the transfer of power between Tony Romo to Dak Prescott.  Why offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s  job will always be safe, and quarterback Kellen Moore will always have a home within the organization.

  Play Calling

Dallas ranks in the bottom 3 in terms of different formations utilized through the first ten games of the 2017 season. While I understand that the playbook needs to be kept small for a still developing franchise quarterback, a team which prides itself on offense must generate more offensive creativity. If the occasional jet sweep (which hasn’t worked well this year because defenses  know to prepare for it) is the only spice added to a bland offense, stagnation is bound to occur.

I guess all I’m trying to say is that there are ways to stay within your strengths, to rely on your personnel, without limiting your maximum offensive capabilities. When I look at this Cowboys team I see too heavy of a reliance on individual talent, rather than on coaching scheme. This is the biggest difference between a team like the Cowboys, whose defense literally forgets which way is up when cornerstone Sean Lee is injured, and the New England Patriots. The Patriots, year in and year out turn no-name players into effective cogs in their always changing offensive machine.

This is the reason Chaz Green was allowed to play 46 offensive snaps on Sunday. Allowing six sacks  to  Falcons’ defensive end Adrian Clayborn (two of those charged to Byron Bell). Single handily solidifying Clayborn’s defensive player of the year campaign, and taking roughly two years off the life of Dak Prescott in the process.

In the animal kingdom, those who don’t adapt die. In the football kingdom it seems like the same rules apply.



Staff writer and podcast host covering the Dallas Cowboys | Spreading my slightly biased sports opinions with anyone wise enough to listen.

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