Troy Aikman was drafted with the number one overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. New owner Jerry Jones had just committed an unconscionable act of which I will not speak but to which I owe my moniker on this site. The one positive that resulted from the act was the installation of one certain Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. Aikman came to a team with a suspect offensive line (he was sacked 29 times in 11 games his first year ) and no feature-type running back. His numbers that first year: 155-293 for 1749 yards good for 9 TD's and 18 INT's (that's a 1:2 TD to INT ratio, sound familiar?) and just shy of 6 yards per pass attempt. Terrible numbers from a young QB. What on earth were they thinking when they took this guy?
The following year the Cowboys drafted Emmit Smith from the University of Florida. During Aikman's second year an offensive line anchored by future Pro Bowl center Mark Stepnoski began to improve although Aikman was sacked 42 times during that second season. One of those sacks ended Aikman's season and with it the Cowboys' playoff run for that year.
The offensive line continued to develop and during the third year became a cohesive unit around a nucleus of Stepnoski, Eric Williams and Mark Tuinei. It was that year, 1991, that the team made its first playoff run in several years. Norv Turner was an instant hero and everyone knows, or at least knows about, the Super Bowl stories that followed.
Is this post about the Dallas Cowboys? Not really, it's more about illustrating what it took to turn a team with a new QB, a terrible offensive line, an outdated offensive scheme and no running game into an NFL powerhouse. Also to illustrate how a poor offensive line can make what turned out to be a pretty good young QB look very bad.
There are a number of other parallels here. Is there a new feature back due to arrive next year? A new core of offensive linemen led by perhaps Mason Walters? Is there a guy named Jeffcoat involved in this?
This will not be a quick or easy fix. Based on this year's events we could hope to compete for the Big 12 title next year but realistically we're probably two years away from making another NC run. The most likely QB for that run?