Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back, Emmitt Smith made an entire 15-year career out of it. Arguably the greatest running back to ever step foot on the gridiron defied the odds, from his rookie year in 1990, all to the way to his 15th NFL season in 2004.
Emmitt was told he was “too short” to make it in the NFL. He didn’t have the “home run speed” to be an elite back in the pros. He just can’t do it. He would never make it. He made it alright…all the way to 18,355 rushing yards.
When you tell 53 grown men that they can’t do something, their natural human instinct is to prove you wrong. Perhaps more importantly, when you get 53 grown men playing with a massive Texas-sized chip on their shoulders, sometimes, you get historic results.
Let’s take a look at what people said we couldn’t do in 2014…
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We were told we can’t adequately replace the production and leadership of linebacker Sean Lee, defensive end DeMarcus Ware and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. See defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, defensive end Jeremy Mincey and linebacker Rolando McClain to prove otherwise.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer can’t recover from microfacture knee surgery to make any kind of impact in 2014. Many even questioned if would step back on a football field. He started slow, as was predicted, but Spencer regained plenty of his old self in the four-game winning streak to end the regular season where we needed him most.
We were told linebacker Rolando McClain was washed up, and couldn’t get his head on straight after retiring from the NFL twice within only his first four seasons. Not only did he show why he was a top-10 pick in 2010, he showed if put in the right environment, with the right group of players, he could thrive. And thrive he did.
Rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence was in for a lost season after missing nearly all of training camp and half the regular season. He can’t and wouldn’t make any impact in 2014. Turns out his first career sack capped off our wildcard win against the Detroit Lions last week. The kid is going to be alright. Watch out in 2015.
Critics were sure cornerback Brandon Carr and linebacker Bruce Carter couldn’t bounce back from disappointing 2013 campaigns. Say what you will about these two, but they were both integral in the defense’s surge in the last month of the season, and into the playoffs. We likely don’t finish the regular season second in the NFL in takeaways (31) without these two.
We go to the other side of the ball…
Quarterback Tony Romo’s surgically repaired back can’t hold up for an entire season. He missed one game but broke a few more franchise records, finished first in the league in QB rating (113.2), and is in the conversation for the league MVP. That Wednesday off day must have been the trick.
Running back DeMarco Murray can’t stay healthy for an entire 16-game season. He responds with the new single-season franchise record for rushing yards (1,845 yards…compiled in 16 games).
Wide receiver Dez Bryant can’t keep his emotions in check long enough to help his team into the playoffs. Another monster, level-headed, record-breaking (single-season TD receptions with 16) season for Dez. And we made the tournament. There goes that argument.
The Cowboys can’t succeed with “too many cooks in the kitchen” (referring to sharing the play-calling duties between coach Jason Garrett, passing game coordinator/play caller Scott Linehan, offensive coordinator/o-line coach Bill Callahan, and even Tony Romo himself). It’s now safe to say that little experiment worked out OK.
Now to the really good stuff…
Jason Garrett and the Cowboys can’t get over the 8-8 hump. We crushed it. 12 wins, only four losses.
Cowboys can’t recover from lop-sided Week 1 loss. See the six-game winning streak following that game as evidence otherwise.
Cowboys can’t, and won’t win in Seattle against the Seahawks. Cowboys 30. Seattle 23.
Cowboys can’t win on the road. Only the sixth team since 1978 to finish 8-0 away from home.
Cowboys can’t win in December. Four dominating wins, zero losses.
Cowboys can’t compete in the NFC East. Four wins, only two losses.
Cowboys can’t possibly win the division. “Cowboys Run The East.”
Cowboys can’t win a playoff game. The Lions were tamed. Even the President of the United States weighed in.
Cowboys can’t go toe-to-toe with Green Bay in Lambeau. We had our chances to put the pressure on Green Bay, but we missed our opportunities. But the toe-to-toe thing? Mission accomplished.
If there is one thing that we have learned about the 2014 edition of our Dallas Cowboys, it’s that we continued to strive when people doubted us most. It was truly a story of defiance. We proved over and over again we can do what others said we were incapable of doing.
It was a fun season. And we will use it as fuel to gear up for another run in 2015. Regardless of what happened on Sunday, I am proud of this team, as should every member of Cowboys Nation. We learned to fight in 2014. Come 2015, we finish.