Why the Cowboys winning the NFC East would be a bad thing


We explain why the 2015 Dallas Cowboys winning the NFC East might be the worst thing possible for the team’s future.

In an unbelievable (and underwhelming) 2015 NFC East race, the 4-8 Dallas Cowboys are only one game out of first place. But while many Cowboys’ fans are holding out hope that the team can somehow make a miraculous run through December and reach the playoffs, that outcome is exactly what the Cowboys don’t need.

In professional sports, teams either must be elite or awful in order to make a season worthwhile. Mediocrity is a curse that keeps teams from collecting the resources (specifically premium draft picks) to join the upper stratus of the league.

More from The Landry Hat

Sure, Dallas can win the woeful NFC East in which every team is currently below .500. But is that feat something to really strive for?

A division title means nothing to the Dallas Cowboys, other than an invitation to the NFC playoffs. Dallas has won 18 division titles so adding one more would be nothing special, especially since this team has no chance of winning the NFC.

Suppose that Dallas were to make the playoffs. The team would host a playoff game against a far superior opponent (likely the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings or the Seattle Seahawks).

A team starting Matt Cassel at quarterback and relying on Darren McFadden to be the workhorse at running back is not likely to beat any NFC playoff team. And even if starting quarterback Tony Romo returns again after a second broken clavicle, it is unreasonable to expect a player that has missed at least 12 games to jump back into the NFL fire and lead a mediocre team to glory.

The Dallas Cowboys should have only one goal, winning the Super Bowl. And that goal is not achievable this year.

The undefeated Carolina Panthers proved that fact via their 33-14 humbling of the fully healthy Cowboys on Thanksgiving. By the time Romo left that game due to injury, the Panthers had already proven to be the far superior team.

Even if Dallas were to win the NFC East and somehow win its first playoff game, a road matchup against the Panthers would be a swift and ugly end to the season. But what would be worse is that Dallas would have climbed from the ranks of the awful to the level of mediocre.

The Cowboys are not going to give up, nor should they. Professional athletes always believe that they can do the impossible and defy the odds which is what makes sports fun.

But Cowboys’ fans should not lose sight of the big picture. Winning the NFC East is akin to being the winner of the beauty contest at a leprosy colony.

The best possible outcome for Dallas is to end the season with a high draft pick, possibly in the top five.

Now the skeptics will be quick to point out that the last time Dallas drafted in the top 10 of the draft the team traded up to acquire corner Morris Claiborne who has been a bust proving there is no guarantee that having a top pick will bring Dallas a great player.

But what a top pick guarantees is flexibility and power in the draft. The 2016 draft is top heavy with defensive prospects like Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche of Ole’ Miss, linebacker Miles Jack of UCLA and Florida State corner Jalen Ramsey, all of whom would be welcome additions to the Dallas defense.

There is also the opportunity for Dallas to add explosive wide receiver Laquon Treadwell of Ole’ Miss. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver could be a great option for Dallas to draft allowing him to learn the NFL game in 2016 and take over for Terrance Williams who will be a free agent after next season.

Then there is the value of a top-10 pick in terms of trading back in the first round to address multiple needs. With a top pick in 2016, Dallas could trade down to collect another first round pick perhaps addressing a need at running back and some other position like safety or right tackle (Doug Free will be a free agent after 2016 and could be released before next season should Dallas find an upgrade in the draft).

There are dozens of ways Dallas can improve this offseason and make another Super Bowl run in 2016 but the best way for an NFL team to improve is through the draft. Free agency is a stopgap measure that is expensive and rarely provides a positive return on investment.

If Dallas makes the playoffs this year, the organization will find itself picking in the middle of the first round, where admittedly it could find a great player.

But if the team is not going to win the Super Bowl (and this year’s Cowboys team most certainly is not going to do that with or without Romo) a top-five pick would be the best way for the team to salvage something of worth from 2015 reload for another shot at its sixth Lombardi Trophy next season.

Next: Six Cowboys who earned their Stars vs. Redskins

Who cares if the Cowboys win another NFC East championship banner? They have a closet full of those.

Maybe the 2015 NFC East banner could become the centerpiece of more artwork commissioned by Jerry Jones’ wife, Gene. But other than that, it will be absolutely worthless.