The saying is that you have to fail before you succeed, and in the Dallas Cowboys case, maybe failing is what this franchise needs to get back on its feet.
I am sure most of you are saying that 8-8 and 9-7 records without a playoff berth is considered failing –never mind the 6-10 season in 2010 when quarterback Tony Romo went down for the year with a broken collar bone–but it is a far cry from really being at the bottom of the food chain. See, Dallas has been mired In a 17-year –most likely this year, too– Super Bowl drought with only one playoff win to show for it, but the problem is that in those years that they haven’t made the playoffs, they have still finished with a record that is mediocre but not quite bottom-feeder status. The string of 5-11 seasons from 2000-2002 is the worst record the Cowboys have had since being 1-15 in 1989. What was significant about that year you ask? Well, it was the first year of the the “Jerry Jones era” and a familiar player was selected first overall in that years draft: UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman.
The year previously, Dallas had drafted wide receiver Michael Irvin with the 11th pick in that years draft, and in 1990 they traded down to get running back Emmitt Smith from Florida and cement the lineup that would win three Super Bowls in four years. What stands out is that Dallas’ records in those years before the “triplets” were not stellar and downright bad. 3-13 in 1988 and 1-15 in 1989 as previously mentioned. Aikman’s first full year starting (He was hurt in his rookie season early on) resulted in a 7-9 record and the next year was 11-5 and a Wild Card loss to the Chicago Bears. Everyone knows what came the next two years, though, a combined record of 25-7 and two Super Bowl dominations against the Buffalo Bills. Dallas had gone from not being in a Super Bowl since 1978, to winning two in a row and a third two years later. Now some people say all of the “Stars” have to align in order for this kind of franchise success to happen and that is probably right, however, the Cowboys needed only a few years of a terrible record to assemble the necessary pieces to become immediate Super Bowl contenders.
Talent like Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith is not exactly guaranteed for any high draft picks in this days NFL, I mean, Dallas actually traded DOWN to get Smith and he is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher now and holds a record that may never be broken in our lifetimes, but the Cowboys are stuck in this loop of mediocrity that is keeping the clock from truly resetting and truly bringing change to a franchise that is moving in a dark direction. Another key issue that only fuels this theory is that Dallas has been notorious in recent years for draft busts at key positions and for not being aggressive in trade offers in order to stockpile picks and build a team. The New England Patriots are a model of consistency in this respect and look at the state of that franchise, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance last year. Head coach Bill Belichick understands the importance of having as many picks as possible, because on draft day, he wants the flexibility to “wheel and deal” when he needs to, to trade up when he has picks to spare and to trade down when he doesn’t want to reach for a player. New England knows how to work the system, Dallas just seems to be stumped by it and that comes back to another issue for Dallas: Jerry Jones as a general manager.
I can’t tell you how infuriated it makes me to watch the “war room” on draft day and see Jerry Jones in the room doing more talking than head coach Jason Garrett. Does Art Rooney try to influence the way Pittsburgh Drafts? Does Robert Craft tell Bill Belichick that he wants him to go get this player? No, because that is not the job of an owner, he is supposed to keep the franchise popular and rake in the money while reveling in the fact that he owns a team that is renowned worldwide. Jerry seemingly is out to prove all of his naysayers –including myself– wrong yearly, because it seems that he is just trying more and more to establish his stranglehold on the franchise. Reporters talk to HIM after games before Jason Garrett sometimes, how asinine is that? Jerry loves the limelight and I think he loves the disdain people have for him as a GM ; it drives him to try and control the team even more and all that is doing is moving Dallas in the direction it probably needs to go in order for real change to be made.
In this writers opinion, let Jerry keep pulling as many strings as he wants, let him make a fool out of himself, let him influence bad draft decisions, let him suffocate the life out of this once proud franchise. Once this team has a 3-13 season with all key players fully healthy, I think he will start to realize there are more problems than the head coach or the offensive line or any of the personnel ON the field, he will finally start putting some of the blame on himself and maybe, just maybe he will release his grip slowly.
I like the way most of this team is right now, I am an avid Tony Romo fan, receiver Dez Bryant has an immense level of talent and DeMarco Murray is a star to-be, but this team is not going to win a division –nevertheless a Super Bowl– when the depth that comes from acquiring talent across the board over the years is not there.
Teams rebuild, it is the way of sports.
Dallas, your time is coming.