Thanks to the NFL Network, Dallas Cowboys fans had a week to remember the glory days from the 1970s and the 1990s. Needless to say, the current crop of Cowboys wasn’t included in the remembrances of Dallas dynasty days. On one hand, it was a pleasure to sit back and reflect on the great Cowboys teams of yesteryear. On the other, though, it was a stark reminder of just how far the franchise has fallen since the Lombardi Trophy was last hoisted by a Cowboys team. When comparing the present Dallas Cowboys and the championship teams of yesteryear…there were some distinct differences…
First of all, the Super Bowl winning franchises of the 1970s and 1990s had strong head coaches who gave no quarter in their zeal to be the best. The great Tom Landry and his predecessor, Jimmy Johnson held the Cowboys to a high standard that resulted in success. Although Barry Switzer added some hardware to the Cowboys trophy case as well, he did so with a team that was assembled with the aforementioned Johnson and his tenure was more the beginning of the end than a continuation of greatness.
Both Landry and Johnson had football savvy that has been sorely missing from the Cowboys organization since their departure. What followed has been a string of bad personnel decisions, strange play calling and ineptness that has been a recipe for Dallas’ current state of mediocrity, with a brief interlude by Bill Parcells. One scenario that spoke volumes happened when, with approximately four minutes left on the clock of Super Bowl XXX, the Cowboys held a 10-point lead and the celebration began in earnest. It was concluded by everyone, from booth to bench, that there was no way the Steelers could mount a comeback with so little time left. Fast forward to the past two seasons when more than a couple of Cowboy’s opponents have found ways to overcome larger deficits in just as little time. Something is definitely wrong with that picture, boys and girls.
In addition to strong sideline management, leadership on the field plays a huge part in providing a mindset that simply doesn’t allow meltdown situations to manifest. With a lead in the closing minutes, the Cowboys often have the aura of a team that is playing not to lose rather than confidently staking claim to a win. A large portion of that mindset must come from the players on the field. Tony Romo has pulled the Cowboys collective butts out of the fire on many occasions. His mild-mannered demeanor, though, sometimes isn’t enough to rally the troops. He is in need of a bad cop to balance out his good cop mentality…and I’m not talking about our temper tantrum prone wideout. As free agency dwindles down, it is looking more and more like the yen to Romo’s yang is going to have to come from someone stepping up from the current locker room or from a strong personality picked up in the draft.
Although leadership on the field and the sidelines is imperative, what was most glaring with comparing the successful Cowboys teams from the past to our present group has to be the difference on defense. If the Cowboys are going to get back to the top of the NFL ladder, Doomsday has got to reemerged in Dallas. Putting pressure on the quarterback, improving the secondary and staying healthy are key to the Cowboys moving past the 8-8 record that has kept them home for the playoffs the past three seasons.
Without improved coaching decisions, an unyielding will to win on the sideline and the field, and a renewed quality of play on defense the Cowboys will continue to flounder and it will be a long time before a week of celebrating Dallas’ success will go beyond the dynasty of the 1990s.