Cowboys Rebuild On Par With Seattle, Pending 2014 Draft

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Nov 11, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Troy Aikman (R) talks with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) during warmups prior to playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 11, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Troy Aikman (R) talks with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) during warmups prior to playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone remember former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman extolling the virtues of Seattle head coach Pete Carroll’s philosophy when his Seahawks posted back-to-back 7-9 seasons? Aikman made headlines this week when he compared the Superbowl champion Seahawks to his former team, criticizing the latter for a lack of direction and philosophy.

He’s not alone in his finger-pointing, but not one of the TV experts who delight in criticizing the Cowboys as a dysfunctional organization ever once publicly marveled at Carroll’s philosophy before his team started winning games.

TV experts don’t recognize winning philosophies until they result in wins. Carroll’s philosophy didn’t change the year he drafted quarterback Russell Wilson and won 11 games; his philosophy was always good, it just didn’t translate into wins until he had amassed the talent to execute it.

So it shouldn’t surprise us that no one on TV acknowledges the winning culture Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is building in Dallas. Never was that philosophy more apparent than in the last game they played.

All the TV experts saw was a third straight season-ending loss to a division rival. Anyone who’s been paying attention the past three years saw something more – the embodiment of Garrett’s philosophy: Competition, accountability, and pushing players to be “the best version of themselves.”

Garrett got exactly that from every player who took the field in Week 17, but it wasn’t enough to win. Philosophy is important in building a perennial contender, but it’s not enough without talent.

Consider that in 2011, the Seahawks endured their fourth straight losing season; then in 2012, they won 11 games. In 2013, the Cowboys endured their fourth straight season out of the playoffs. Will 2014 be the Year 5 turnaround like the Seahawks had? The answer is not in the philosophy – it’s in the talent.

The Road Back To Contention

Seattle Seahawks

Dallas Cowboys

2007

10 and 6

11 and 5

2009

2008

4 and 12

6 and 10

2010

2009

5 and 11

8 and 8

2011

2010

7 and 9

8 and 8

2012

2011

7 and 9

8 and 8

2013

2012

11 and 5

???

2014

Each team followed a division championship with four straight dismal seasons. The Seahawks stopped the streak in 2012 with a wild card berth and a playoff victory at Washington. From 2008 to 2011, in the four drafts leading up to their breakout season, the Seahawks drafted five eventual pro bowlers and five other key starters who would lead the franchise back to relevance.

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  • P.j. Doyle

    Hey, that 7-9 Seattle team made it to the playoffs and beat the Saints. They also made progress. Now look at them. What has this coaching staff done. We are the laughing stock of the NFL and I’m tired of it and anybody who defends this coaching staff that’s made us sit and watch three consecutive years of 8-8.

    • John

      That 7-9 team that beat the Saints in the playoffs went 7-9 the next year. For a guy who appears to measure progress solely in wins and losses, not sure how you can ignore that…

      • Fried Toast

        If you look at the larger picture, you can see the arc of the Seahawks landing in the Super Bowl, eventually putting a whooping on the best offense in the history of the NFL. Not sure how you can ignore that (when the article itself was trying to point out similarities in the team’s wins).

        I disagree with the article, however. What was behind the change in Seattle? The writer said, “The answer is not in the philosophy – it’s in the talent”. I say it’s both. Pete Carroll & John Schneider came in and gutted the Hawks. Absolutely cleaned house. They rebuilt with a new philosophy and young roster- what do we have now? Second youngest roster in the NFL at the moment? Somewhere along there, if not second – very young. Is that similar to what the Cowboys have been doing the past few years? I’ve not gotten the sense that Dallas did anything like that at all, so I’d say the similarities end with their team records.

        One of the big differences is ownership- our owner supports the coach & GM. Your owner runs the coach & GM. Huge difference and I think it’s *the* largest problem you have (and will continue to have as long as JJ is in control). My guess is that you’re stuck at 8-8 until there’s more of a shake-up (starting at the top).

        • John

          You can see the arc now, because they’ve won. It’s no surprise you can’t see the Cowboys arc, because their record hasn’t changed. Yet. But TV experts didn’t extol the virtues of Carroll’s philosophy until it resulted in wins, and it didn’t result in wins until the ‘Hawks had amassed the talent. The larger point here is TV expert analysis is more reactive than it is predictive, and we do well to challenge ourselves to see past it…

  • SmartThinking

    The ‘culture’ you write about Garrett building in Dallas has, pretty much, been a failure after three seasons. Certainly, nothing’s changed in the win-loss department. As for the coaching staff, we have more of them than any other team in the league and still, nothing changes. Plus, they run to take some of the worst jobs in the league just to get out from under this team’s owner. Our cap is a joke. Our best players are either too old to trade or coming off surgeries or reconstruction and, in truth, are question marks regarding their potential performance next season. Oh. Yeah. We’ve got a megalomaniacal owner/GM who is very possibly certifiable, particularly after the legion of mistakes and judgment errors he’s made.

    I could go on but what’s the point.

    I think Aikman was dead on on every point about this organization that he made. Could he fix it a la the Denver model? Absolutely. Will he? No. Why? Because Jones can’t suffer the thought of someone else other than himself coming into this organization and pulling it by its bootstraps back into the winner’s circle.

  • Earl Robertson

    It comes down to this draft, D-Cord adjusting to strength of players, and if they run ball more! Those 3 things will make all the difference

    • John

      This draft will be huge. In 2012, the year the ‘Hawks broke out for 11-5, they hit paydirt on 7 of 10 draft picks, including the franchise quarterback in round 3. That just doesn’t happen very often. If the Cowboys do half as well in the 2014 draft, and pick up 3 or 4 good contributors, they could be every bit the suprise team the 2012 Seahawks were…

  • Chesney Blair

    Now you crunched up the numbers I am at belief the Cowboys will win the super bowl in two years. As the last three years of great record versus winning teams represent we are an inch close here and there. Really though, when are we going to admit that everything is completely wrong, ditch all the old-timers, and start from scratch with real gm, coach and team? I have to say this Romo won’t win shitte.

  • Chesney Blair

    Garrett is going to get the kick in the arse he deserves at the end of this season. I hope you Romo supporters don’t make excuses when he unfolds again. The guy can’t win.

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    I get tired of hearing about how the coaching is the problem with the Cowboys and that changes should be made. Changes are made every year to the extent the team has no identify or philosophy. Fans who post about firing the coaches either don’t say who should be hired to effect necessary changes or they list coaches who wouldn’t work for Jerry Jones. The constant changing of coaches has been a major problem and that can be attributed to Jerry Jones. I say stop the coaching carousel and allow Garrett to choose his own coaches. It’s worth a try as continuing the coaching carousel obviously isn’t the answer.

    • Chesney Blair

      The constant changes of coaches? JG had his run of things his first couple of years. Do you remember when we couldn’t score for anything in the red zone, and made idiotic decisions like kneeling before every half time despite having Romo?

      We will see how this unfolds.

      • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

        I don’t think you will find any mention of the head coach in my post. There are more coaches on the team than just the head coach.