As I was watching the maddening loss against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday night, the interview that Bob Costas conducted with Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones at halftime really stood out to me, especially one tidbit in particular: The Dallas Cowboys are 123-124 in the regular season and 1-6 in the postseason since 1997.
Six losing seasons, two 8-8 seasons and only three division titles since their last Super Bowl appearance. Those are shocking numbers for one of the more well-known franchises in all of sports. Many of you have said “blow it up” and “trade everybody” and even I, myself, have written about how the Cowboys need to fall to the bottom before they can rise to championship-caliber again. But as I heard Jones say straight-faced to Costas that if he was not the GM, then he would have fired whoever was by now, I realized that Dallas is cursed to mediocrity until King Jerry figures out he is the only piece of the puzzle that has not been tweaked or replaced.
Coaches have come and gone, quarterbacks have come and gone, troubled players like Adam “Pacman” Jones, Terrell Owens and Antonio Bryant have come and gone from this franchise, but the one constant has been…you guessed it, Jerry Jones. He seems completely apathetic to the whole situation when you hear him asked directly about it, part of me believes he is just being ridiculously stubborn and won’t look in the mirror to face the primary problem that is plaguing the Cowboys. Now, there are other people who will say that it all lies on the players shoulders and that lack of performance can be attributed to those players not playing up to par etc..etc.. and that is of course a valid point, but who leads the players? The head coach. Who appoints the head coach? Jerry Jones.
Of course the players deserve some blame, though. Tony Romo leads the league in interceptions this year (13) after having his best year statistically in 2011, throwing only nine the entire season. The offense has not cracked 30 points yet this season even with the likes of Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten as weapons, and the running game is non-existent for the third year in a row. So, yes, the players deserve a healthy portion of the blame for this miserable 3-5 start. After losing by a “fingertip” last week, though, it begs the question: Are the Cowboys cursed? These could just be incoherent ramblings of a fan who is fed up with the lack of production, but it really seems that Dallas just has not gotten the breaks that many other teams have gotten in any point of the game.
Tipped passes never find the defenders hands, the Cowboys have one of the lowest percentages of fumble recoveries–balls just seem to bounce away from anybody trying to recover, even when there are three or four Cowboys around it. Just this last game, DeMarcus Ware absolutely planted Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan into the ground and the ball squirted free with two Cowboys ready to pounce, but it took a bizarre spin and ended up being recovered by Atlanta, story of the decade for the Cowboys it seems. Sure there were good years, 2007 and 2009 were very solid seasons–one resulting in a first round exit and the other resulting in the only playoff win in seven tries since 1997- where things finally seemed to go in the Cowboys favor, but each year following that it was a crucial injury–or multiple ones– that did the Boys in. In 2008, Romo broke his pinkie against the Cardinals and was out for some crucial games. In 2010, we all remember him snapping his collar bone on national television against the Giants on Monday Night Football, he would be out all year. The injuries were not limited to the quarterback only, though, but they had the most negative impact on the team as a whole.
Even when healthy, though, you never know what you’re going to get when the Cowboys play. It is the true sign of a team and franchise that is chugging along in neutral, no real momentum backwards or forwards. One week. they look spectacular against a Baltimore Ravens squad that is tough to beat at home, they run for the most yards ever allowed by the Ravens and then lose on a missed field goal because of bad play calls. The next week, they go on the road to Carolina and look completely inept and barely squeak out a win. The trend follows suit in penalties, too. One week, only a couple –they are usually crucial ones, though- and then they collapse the following game and commit 15 for 120 yards. The point is, Dallas is a mixed bag right now. It was foolish for anybody to honestly think that the Cowboys were legitimate playoff contenders this year when the body of work just hasn’t supported that claim. They were a win away from claiming the NFC East last year, but they would had already done that if Garrett doesn’t ice his own kicker in Arizona, or if Miles Austin catches a Romo pass for a wide open touchdown to ice the game against the Giants. It really amazes me sometimes the way Dallas finds ways to lose games, or wins but make you feel worse about it because of the pitiful performance put out against an inferior team. Who knows how this season will go, Dallas could win out and go 11-5, or lose out and go 5-11, both seem completely plausible based on the unpredictability of this team.
One thing is for sure, however.
As Bob Costas said at the end of his interview: You can love the Cowboys or hate the Cowboys, but you can’t ignore them.