The Dallas Cowboys Silver Linings Playbook

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Nov 8, 2014; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) and tight end Jason Witten (82) at NFL All Access at Wembley Stadium in advance of the NFL International Series game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hyperbole Never Helped Anyone, Except Maybe Now

I am among the first to admit when the team plays terribly and I am just as interested in hearing what analysts have to say after a loss as I am a win. However, I hate, hate hate the hyperbolic reactions that immediately ensue when the Cowboys lose. On Friday morning ESPN’s Sports Center ticker cued up the game’s segment as “Cowboys Collapse.” It’s hard to think of any other team whose losses are categorized in such catastrophic terms – I’m fairly certain these were not the headlines when the Detroit Lions lost to the New England Patriots in Week 12.

Silver lining? They’ve got plenty of motivation for the rest of the season. If I’m Jason Garrett, I create a sheet of pull quotes from every single overblown analysis and tape it up on every player’s locker. Remind them that people expect them to lose, but that they get the chance to prove everyone wrong. And then print this article from SB Nation out in full. Use it as the best example of how not to butcher the English language – #grammarmatters – in addition to being overblown tarot card reading.

The Importance of Being Earnest

In a loss like Thursday’s one could reasonably expect finger pointing, excuses and frustration. And while the latter was evident in interviews, it wasn’t expressed – in interviews at least – in a way that could appear self-destructive. At this point in the season and especially when playoff hopes could be in doubt – this is when mistakes take their toll. Coaches get heat from management and players, receivers hate on their quarterbacks, the defense gets whacked for letting teams add up the points, etc etc. But as Vince Lombardi said,

"“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”"

This season’s team has epitomized this quote. They’ve come back from deficits, they’ve bounced back after a bad series of plays, and they’ve found a way to win after tough losses.

Silver lining? The same mentality persisted this week. Words like “we,” “opportunity,” and “collectively” have been repeated again and again. Outlooks were forward looking with an emphasis on learning from mistakes, working harder and taking the field with renewed dedication. They’ve presented a united front all season and at a time when that could easily be tested, their commitment to the belief in their ability as a team continues.

Numbers Matter

Over the years, Cowboys fans have gotten used to hearing how terrible Tony Romo is. We’ve heard about his inability to come through in clutch moments, how he collapses under pressure, how he isn’t the leader you want at the front of your team and how December is the prime example of all of these atrocities he’s heaped upon fans for his entire career.

But just like the numbers about his fourth quarter comebacks and game winning drives get falsely debated, so too does this one on his stat sheet: 

Now, passer ratings are hotly contested – some call it ‘the most important stat in the history of mankind’ while others would use the paper it was calculated on to wipe their feet as they walk in the door after plowing their driveway. But no matter what you may make of it, the silver lining here is that in actuality Romo doesn’t collapse in December and there is no reason to assume he will this year.

I’m no soothsayer, so come January I could end up right where I have been every year for the past decade or so: licking my wounds for a few months until my hope is restored just in time for draft day. But as the Counting Crows remind me it’s

"“a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.”"

Let’s just say my fingers are crossed.