DALLAS — At 2-6 and already taking on two division losses, there is talk about tanking surrounding the Dallas Cowboys.
According to Tankathon.com, the Cowboys are on pace to pick No. 5 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. With that level of draft capital, with a full offseason schedule possibly in the works as the world adjusts to COVID-19, with veterans coming back from injured reserve, there has never been more optimism about Dallas losing.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones shared his thoughts on the tanking process with "Shan & RJ" on 105.3 "The Fan" [KRLD-FM] Tuesday and clarified the term has nothing to do with players or coaches not providing their full effort to win games.
"Tanking has nothing to do with the performance of a player, the performance of a coach, the performance of getting better, the performance of the things you do to try to win the ballgame in my mind," Jones said.
Jones, who also serves as the team's president and general manager, explained that instead of looking at tanking as a way to lose games to get a higher draft pick, the positive aspect would be that it provides snaps for younger players or individuals the team wants to work with long-term.
"Could you make a decision to play a younger player more or a player that you're going to be pretty firm that you're going to be going forward with contract wise than a different situation? And the answer is I can see that," said Jones.
The Cowboys are ostensibly giving snaps to younger players already with undrafted rookie Terence Steele starting at right tackle, even though All-Pro right guard Zack Martin has the position flexibility to kick outside.
Dallas also has the ability to pick from veteran Joe Looney or second-year Connor McGovern to plug in at right guard should Martin move to right tackle. Yet, Dallas continues to give meaningful snaps to Steele, a former Texas Tech Red Raider.
Last week, the Cowboys traded defensive end, Everson Griffen, to the Detroit Lions for a conditional sixth-round pick. Playing in Griffen's spot against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8 was a tandem of Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith, two players the Cowboys see as credible edge defenders opposite of Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence.
Said Jones: "The only way to have and get better in the NFL is for reps, and game reps are precious, hard to come by. And you don't get them by just that issue if you're sitting there competing for the championship. So, I think it makes you see more young players — maybe should be doing it anyway, candidly in regard to that definition of tanking. You maybe should be playing in football, you maybe should be playing those players out there anyway."
The Cowboys will be playing more young players as they continue to work their way through injuries. With Andy Dalton hitting the COVID-19 list after missing the Eagles game with a concussion, seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci will get his second start under center.
With Dalton unable to go against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9 at AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys will be relying on DiNucci to take his second chance at making a good impression under what Jerry Jones qualifies as tanking.
Do you think the Cowboys should give up on trying to win games this season for a better position in the NFL Draft? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.