A Dallas Cowboys comparative review of playoff success

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboys fans have had to dig deep into their memories for playoff success.

The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott might be waiting until July 15th at 3:58 PM Eastern time to have substantive talks about how to resolve the unsigned quarterback franchise tender. While Cowboys Nation sits patiently waiting for this stalemate to end, I thought it would be good to look back at the past four years and compare how the Cowboys have done against their competition where it matters most – in the playoffs.

In 2020, the NFL has added a seventh playoff team to each conference allowing fourteen teams to enter the tournament for the right to be Super Bowl Champions. Over the past four years, twelve teams per year or a total of 48 teams have made the playoffs.

The Cowboys have a 50 percent success rate over the last four years making the playoffs if your glass is half full. If it is half empty, they have had a 50 percent failure rate.

Two teams, the Patriots and the Chiefs have made the playoffs all four seasons. The Pats were led by Tom Brady each year and the Chiefs had Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes lead them into the playoffs two times each.

The Eagles, Saints, Seahawks, and Texans made three postseason appearances. Russell Wilson and Drew Brees quarterbacked the Seahawks and Saints all three times. Brock Osweiler (once) and Deshaun Watson (twice) piloted the Texans and Carson Wentz (once) and Nick Foles (twice) led the Eagles into the playoffs.

The Cowboys are clustered in a group of nine teams who have made two appearances. Ten teams have made a single playoff appearance and seven teams have had at least four-year postseason drought.

So the Cowboys are in the top half of the league in making a playoff appearance. For some franchises, getting to play in January is a reward for their fan base. The Dallas Cowboys fans have a different opinion.

Dallas has won five Super Bowls in its 60-year history. This franchise has set historically high standards for success and lately, the team has disappointed. By lately, I am referencing the four wins and ten losses in the postseason since they won the Super Bowl in the 1995 season – 24 years ago.

The Cowboys used to be mainstays in the NFC Championship game playing in ten of the first thirteen contests. Now, Cowboys Nation is reduced to the Browns and Raiders level where a trip to the playoffs is a success.

How will the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott contract negotiation change the lack of playoff success?

While Dallas negotiates with Prescott with the hope that he will lead the team to the promised land, I thought it might be interesting to consider some of the quarterbacks who have one playoff victory, the same number as Dak and the Cowboys, in the past four years.

The list includes Brock Osweiler, Marcus Mariota, and Case Keenum. All three are no longer with the team they won their playoff game, will be backups this year, and in the case of Osweiler, not even in the league.

The list of quarterbacks that have won two playoff games includes Blake Bortles, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Tannehill, and Jared Goff. Pro Dak supporters would argue that Dak is better than these quarterbacks and I would agree.

The list of quarterbacks who have won more than two playoff games includes Tom Brady (eight), Patrik Mahomes (four), Aaron Rodgers (three), Matt Ryan (three), and Nick “can you believe it” Foles (four).  With Foles in this list, anything is possible, including winning the Super Bowl, with competent and not elite quarterback play in the playoffs.

So the question the Dallas Cowboys need to answer as July 15 approaches is how much do they want to overpay Dak Prescott above and beyond their budgeted amount.  Clearly, Prescott and his representatives have asked for more than the Cowboys are willing to pay.

For Dak, he probably feels pretty good in his seat. He has been patient so far betting on himself but he should be mindful that the Jaguars will likely be looking for a quarterback next offseason. He is risking his desire to be a Cowboy for life.

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Recent history has shown you can get superior playoff performance with quarterbacks less than what Dak Prescott brings to the table. Are you willing to let your fear of the unknown to be named quarterback drive up the price for a quarterback who has delivered average playoff performance?