There always seems to be something off about this Cowboys team. Even when we are winning, something seems to be not quite right.
I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about exactly what that is and the conclusion I’ve come to is love.
When these guys played this season, I saw no love for their coaches, no love for each other, and ultimately no love for the game.
I think about the Cowboys dynasty of the early 90’s and the difference is palpable. These guys absolutely LOVED each other, LOVED Jimmy, and LOVED the game. Want more proof? Look at Emmitt Smith’s hall of fame induction speech. The man broke down and cried through an entire monologue dedicated to Daryl Johnston. That is love for a teammate.
Can you honestly think of a single player for this team that has that kind of loyalty, love, and devotion for a fellow teammate or coach? The closest example we have would be Romo and Witten, but I don’t even think they are at that level.
I think back to the football teams I played on throughout school. Again, the success of the team had a direct correlation to the closeness of the individuals. The teams that built each other up in situations of failure drastically outperformed those that turned on each other when the chips were down.
So who can change this? Who is responsible for turning a group of guys into a family?
I think most people would put that burden on the coach, he is the one responsible for making the team play as a unit after all. If only it were that simple. A coach can try to make players behave, he can try to keep them in line, but a coach can’t make players love each other. A coach can’t make them care for each other and have fun together.
Who else? The owner? Jerry has done a good job of getting rid of those that tend to divide a team, as soon as it becomes apparent. Beyond that what else can he do? Make them all attend a mandatory camping trip? Attend a ropes course where they can all take turns doing “trust falls”? Some of those trust falls wouldn’t end well no matter how hard everyone tried.
The responsibility of this has to fall on the team leaders. Romo, Witten, Ware, and Lee come to mind. I love Bryant’s passion and ability, but I don’t think he is ready to be a team leader just yet. These are the guys that have to bring the team together. They have to unify. All the coaching changes in the world aren’t going to make any difference if this team of individuals doesn’t manage to find each other, and rediscover their love for the game in the process.