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Cowboys Mailbag: February 20, 2012

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THOMAS HOLLINGTON LOS ANGELES, CA: What do the Cowboys make of Jason Hatcher's comment about a lack of leadership on the team? Do they talk to him, take it to heart or just let it go?

Rob: For Hatcher to say that publicly, you have to wonder how many other guys feel that way. Then again, he's got two long-time friends on defense – Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware – that most would consider leaders. Sean Lee's a young player who's growing into that role. I still think this is an argument – not just for fans and media, but for players, too – that's borne out of frustration more than anything else. Perception changes when you win. When this same core won division titles, we heard how great their chemistry and leadership was. But I do agree with Hatcher's point that there's not really a rah-rah Ray Lewis type on the team. Is that required to win, though? Maybe the team just needs to play better.

Josh:As he said, they don't have a Ray Lewis-type leader. OK, I would agree. But who is the Giants' Ray Lewis? It's fine for him to have an opinion, and even to express it, but it's not something that will propel the Cowboys into action. The needs for this offseason don't include "team leader." It's still secondary, pass rush, offensive line. Improve those things, get a little better at everything else, make something happen in the playoffs and suddenly no one cares that there isn't a Ray Lewis.

MICHAEL CLEMONS WARNER ROBINS, GA: Why does this team have a problem with starting rookies while other teams seem to not? Shouldn't the first- and second-round picks be starters this year? And maybe the third- or fourth-rounders as well?

Rob: That's definitely true in the salary cap era. But they have to be good enough, and in some cases (Bobby Carpenter) the Cowboys' draft picks simply weren't good enough to start the first year or two. Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith and DeMarco Murray certainly were. Bruce Carter might have been if he was healthy. Those are all first- and second-round picks, though. The best teams seem to be able to plug in those Day 2 or 3 picks. The deeper the roster, the better.

Josh: If the guy was good enough, and healthy, the Cowboys were not afraid to play young players. If you're starting over from scratch it makes all kinds of sense to dump the young guys out there and let them learn on the fly. If you're trying to compete, you need to make sure the rookies and sophomores are actually better than the veterans they would be replacing before you pull the trigger. I don't think there's any conspiracy.

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