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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 3, 2010

NFL: Cowboys get it half right on Friday’s cuts

By Jennifer Floyd Engel
McClatchy Newspapers

FORT WORTH, Texas — So much for Dez Bryant as a Cowboy, or drafting the best available player.

Draft day at Valley Ranch just became about need, need and need.

And said needs were ratcheted up a couple of notches by owner Jerry Jones when he somewhat surprisingly cut left tackle Flozell Adams and so-not-shockingly disposed of safety Ken Hamlin on Friday.

Initial thoughts: Jerry got this half right.

See ya, Hamlin. Do not let the door hit you in the butt on the way out. As for Flo, only QB Tony Romo will know for sure and probably not 100 percent for sure for sure until Justin Tuck is coming on a blind-side rush if this was a good idea.

Now, maybe, this is because I just recently and finally watched "The Blind Side," which was excellent by the way, and have Sandra Bullock's twang in my brain with her opening monologue about the importance of a quarterback's blind side.

"Then, like a traffic accident, stuff begins to randomly collide. From the snap of the ball to the snap of the first bone is closer to four seconds than five."

Seconds later, the image of Joe Theismann being sacked by Lawrence Taylor, his leg gruesomely snapping like a twig and Taylor waving frantically for help appears.

"Legendary quarterback Joe Theismann never played another down of football."

In that moment, what every Cowboys fan has to realize is how easily this could be Romo. And why parting ways with Flozell Adams with only a hazy idea of his replacement was risky.

Especially going into a year with Super Bowl aspirations.

Let's be clear. Hamlin needed to go, a bloated contract and ego, combined with diminishing returns in actual production, had turned him into a joke. He had been stealing money. He had his fat contract after his Pro Bowl year in 2007, and had been slapping a stamp on his play since then.

Welcome to The Real Ken Hamlin. Now say goodbye, and good riddance.

Not so fast on Flo, though.

While I read a couple of opinions stating how Dallas had released two underachievers, I'd be careful with that characterization of Flo. He might not always have been as good as his talent, or as he once was, but there is very a good chance he's better than whoever replaces him.

Just watch that Minny playoff loss, if you do not believe me.

Before Flo exited with a knee injury, he was getting whipped and whipped pretty good. Bench him, was a familiar refrain. Until his backup, Doug Free, actually had to play and he got whip whipped.

He basically ole'd guys back to Romo, and folks were crying for Flo.

My guess is Romo was consulted on this, and winced upon hearing the news. He, after all, was the guy who personally called Flo and begged him to stay in Dallas rather than leave for Miami a couple of years ago.

Romo is no dummy. He recognizes a QB is only as good as his protection. And he probably already has begun rigorous running training, just in case Jerry does not have a foolproof backup plan.

Owner Jones released a 8very complimentary statement about Flo later Friday, about how in 12 years he had never really had to worry about his left tackle and how important that position is. Oddly, he did not mention a replacement.

A quick check discovered Pat McQuistan listed as the Cowboys starting left tackle.

Um, wow. And no.

Let's go back to Sandra's description — actually author Michael Lewis' — which probably came from an NFL GM or two or 10: "The ideal left tackle is big, but a lot of people are big. He's wide in the butt and massive in the thighs. He has long arms, giant hands and feet as quick as a hiccup. This is a rare and expensive combination the need for which can be traced to that Monday night game and Lawrence Taylor."

McQuistan is 6-foot-6, 317 pounds and has been around forever without playing a lot, which raises a red flag. And please give up on the idea of scooching Leonard Davis into that spot. He told me a year ago he did not want to play tackle, not that he would not, but he preferred not and he's not that great in space. Better to keep him inside.

How much the Cowboys have benefited from Marc Colombo's production at right tackle is a testament to blind luck, which Big Bill had when he plucked him off the street for nothing. But he is not a left tackle. Neither is Doug Free, not yet, not in the Flo model.

What Jerry did Friday was put himself on the clock big time. A no-mistakes draft is now a necessity. No less than Romo's health depends upon it. And rarely does a team find a Flo in the second round, or below. He is the exception, not the rule.

Flo had turned into a Cowboys punching bag, and deservedly so at times. His inopportune false starts frustrated, and his propensity to trip and do dirty had ballooned in recent years.

Whatever you thought of Flo, though, he had Romo's blind side.

We're about to find out if Jerry did, or if only got it half right.