Cowboys: For draft’s sake, don’t go winning now
By Brad Austin
After opening the 2015 season 2-0 and losing All-Pro quarterback Tony Romo in the process, the Dallas Cowboys had 12 chances to stay competitive.
Even four wins and eight losses would’ve saved a dreadful season from today’s doom.
If the Cowboys and whoever started at quarterback would’ve merely won 1/3 of those 12 games, they’d currently be tied with New York and Philadelphia at 6-8.
Dallas would only be a game behind division leading Washington. With the Redskins being the final opponent on the schedule, the chance to settle it on the field was there.
With a final win, the 4-2 NFC East record would’ve trumped all division opponents and stole a division title.
Asking even a back-up quarterback to win 1/3 of 12 games with a supporting cast this talented should’ve been easy pickings.
GOT WHAT THEY DESERVED
More from The Landry Hat
- 3 ways Cowboys’ Dak Prescott can have a bounce-back season in 2023
- Cowboys News: Dallas sets pre-draft visit with potential Dalton Schultz upgrade
- NFL executives heaping praise on offseason is uncharted territory for Cowboys
- 3 free agent signings from NFC East rivals that left Cowboys fans laughing
- Cowboys News: Brandin Cooks sends flattering message to CeeDee Lamb, Stephon Gilmore
Brandon Weeden provided enough scoring to start collecting wins if paired with Dez Bryant and a healthy, stiff defense. He was afforded neither before being demoted.
Kellen Moore showed the ability to move the offense well enough to defeat 1/3 of his opponents. The Cowboys outscored the Jets 13-12 in his three quarters last week.
Instead, the brass pinned the season on a declining Matt Cassel. No matter how lame he performed week after week, they rode the gimpy horse until the race was over.
It would’ve been a great idea five years ago when Cassel last won more games than he lost. But since 2010, he’d lost 17 of his last 26 starts.
Not to mention Cassel had zero familiarity with the Cowboys offense, offensive coordinator, or supporting cast.
Weeden knew the offense and the in-game tendencies of his teammates. Moore spent two seasons under the guidance of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
But nope, the journeyman Cassel was their man no matter how many losses piled up.
HEAVY PRICE FOR MEANINGLESS WINS
At this point the why’s and how’s of the Cowboys failure is crying over spilled milk. In the NFL, bad choices have painful consequences.
Since Dallas is now eliminated from the playoffs, the time for winning is over. They’re currently tied with three other teams for the 3rd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
If 4-10 Dallas naively plays for pride and pads their record, the outcome could drop them from selecting 3rd in the draft to around 8th-12th.
The difference between picking 3rd and even 10th is substantial. Pick 3 guarantees an elite, dominating player in college football. Pick 10 doesn’t carry such certainties.
Choosing 3rd insures your second choice (35th pick) has talent on par with late first rounders. Selecting 10th in the second round (42nd pick) adds second-round talent.
FINAL FOES MAY LOOK TO FOLD
The bad news for the eliminated Cowboys is their next two opponents could also be giving a second-rate effort.
At 6-8, the eliminated Buffalo Bills also have nothing to play for. With 6 wins already, every additional win bounces them further down the ‘teens of the draft.
7-7 Washington is one win away from claiming the NFC East title and playoff berth.
If the Redskins defeat Philadelphia this week and clinch the division title, they’ll likely hold out their starters for the final clash with Dallas.
With a more competent back-up in Moore plus the Cowboys stern defense, it wouldn’t take much for Dallas to topple the Redskins second string.
No NFL coach walks into a game playing to lose. Jason Garrett certainly isn’t the exception. But moral victories now do nothing but harm the future.
Next: The 5 Most Disappointing Dallas Cowboys of 2015
The Cowboys had 12 chances to win four games and couldn’t stomach making the right quarterback choice to get it done.
They failed to finish the task then, so don’t go winning now when losing actually helps.