Any other year, owner and general manager Jerry Jones would jump at the opportunity to open the season on prime time. He’s done this many times before, but this time it’s different.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated speculates that the Cowboys are one of just four teams that are likely candidates to open the 2014 regular season in the Pacific Northwest, a region where no NFL team really wants to play. This includes Denver, another of the four teams likely to end up at CenturyLink Field early next September.
Yeah, Super Bowl rematches can open the following regular season if the NFL schedule is lined up right, but do you think the executives at NBC want any part of the carnage that FOX just endured?
Of course not. Broncos fans and Manning enthusiasts will likely tune out early, thus leaving a pretty lean audience. Dallas, however, pulls a gigantic audience full of those who love to watch them win and those who want to see them lose—this really is a perfect matchup from a ratings standpoint.
Let’s assume that Jones has his choice of accepting this football game. Is it really wise to get into this type of game to open a season that threatens a fifth consecutive season without a trip to the postseason? Is this where you begin an assumed make-it-or-break it year for your still-training fifth-year head coach, Jason Garrett, who’s believed to be coaching for his life? Do you start in Seattle when the rest of your schedule includes the San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, AFC South and NFC East?
Seems like the spotlight might not be such a good idea this time, Mr. Jones.
Remember that Dallas will have little in the way of dollars to spend on free agents from Seattle or anywhere else. The Cowboys will essentially be trying to fill the roster without breaking the bank, so don’t expect difference-makers as winter draws to a close.
How about the draft, you say?
Well, if recent history means anything—and it absolutely does—expect no more than one starter out of the coming draft class and possibly another solid contributor somewhere else. Even if Dallas lands three starters, all on defense, do you really think that this closes the gap with the Seahawks?
Yes, the Cowboys may be in position to run with Seattle in a couple of seasons, but that’s not going to include the one coming in just over half a year.
Jones has made a career, at least in recent seasons, selling the idea that his franchise is much closer than it really is to competing for another Vince Lombardi trophy. Whether he believes this or not is irrelevant. The fact is that he does this and the fan base, an awfully big one I’ll add, continues to buy in.
DMNs Moore exposes and blasts this strategy as well as it can be done. How in the world does Jones sell more deep balls—this time into the Seattle secondary—tossed up by a quarterback coming off another back surgery called by another new play-caller that’s hardly known for delivering exactly what Dallas needs offensively?
Let’s just say that if the Cowboys end up with another season opener on the road, this after getting a rare break last season against the New York Giants in Arlington, and get hammered, it would mean more than just a 0-1 start to the season.
This would be among the biggest let downs in franchise history, and there’s been some heavy-hitters in that category over the last several seasons—frankly, I’ve forgotten some due to the sheer volume. If the game gets ugly, like the last meeting between these two teams in Week 2 of 2012, what exactly would that say?
Maybe the Cowboys have a historic draft class this spring and prove me and many other skeptics wrong. Anything can and does happen in the NFL these days. But the Seahawks are clearly the best team in football, and also one that’s on the rise. Dallas, on the other hand, has no real idea where its headed and certainly seems to be on the way down.