After the 13 & 3 – 2016 Dallas Cowboy season ended abruptly, while disappointed, we Cowboy fans had high hopes for the 2017 season, and that was the first time in a long, long time that we had any measure of serious hope. Folks even spoke of another Super Bowl. There had been two great new players added to the roster: Dak Prescott as QB (to replace injured Tony Romo) and big, strong running back, one Ezekiel Elliott. Those dudes were amazing rookies who made the future look bright. But, just when we thought they had cracked the code to find their way back to the winner’s circle, the 2017 season started and our high hopes come back to earth with a thud.
Personally, I was never a fan of Tony Romo as QB but I hated to see his career end because of a serious injury. I thought he was a good and decent man and a very good QB . . . my struggle with him was that I simply did not think he was a winner. The dude posted some monster numbers personally (and broke a number of long-standing records), but he just could not lead the Cowboys to victory. Truth be told, the NFL is all about winning . . . it just doesn’t matter much about personal stats (except when negotiating a player’s new contract). There have been darn less talented guys play the QB position who were just simply winners . . . meaning they found a way to win when the odds said “unlikely.” One such guy was Terry Bradshaw, another was Joe Namath (he had terrible knees with limited mobility), but both of those guys found a way to lead his team into the winner’s circle. Such guys are far-and-few in-between.
On a side note: As a comparison (and in a different sport), Larry Bird played for the Boston Celtics (NBA). The chuckle was that he could neither run nor jump (both of which are viewed as critical skills in basketball), but none of that really mattered when it came to this guy . . . he was a fierce competitor and just found a way to put the ball in the basket at the critical moment to win the game. He grew up a really poor kid from French Lick, Indiana. When he was drafted by the Celtics and went to play in Boston; he was referred to as “The Hick from French Lick.” However, a few years later he retired as “Larry, the Legend,” a man loved and admired by an entire region.
Last Sunday with everything to play for, this Cowboy team proved they cannot win a home game when really needed. Sure, they did have three home wins this season: in September, they defeated the New York Giants; in November, the Kansas City Chiefs; and then on the final day of November they beat the Washington Redskins.
Unfortunately, they also lost to the Rams, Packers, Eagles, Chargers, and now the Seahawks . . . all on their home turf, which meant they went 3-5 at home. Playoff teams almost never go 3-5 at home and the Cowboys insured that stat will be safe because they are not going to the playoffs. If you want to feel extra depressed, you should know that Sunday’s game was the 75th time the Cowboys have played a home game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and during that period they are a mere 39-36 overall (including playoff games). Take away that 7-2 in the opening season of the stadium in 2009 (the final full season of Wade Phillips). Since the first year of the Jason Garrett era, the Cowboys hold a home record of 32-34. That would seem to be awfully problematic.
How problematic? Since 2010, the Cowboys rank 24th in the NFL in home-win percentage. They are only better than the Raiders, Bears, Rams, Redskins, Titans, Jaguars, Buccaneers, and Browns. But, when five franchises: the Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Ravens, and Steelers are winning 70% or more of their home games, and we are winning 48% of ours, you see where the biggest issue sits.
The Cowboys have constructed the greatest, most impressive stadium in the history of the world and then has allowed their opponents to win more often inside it than they do. If any truth best describes the modern era of Dallas Cowboys football, this might be it.
Which leads me to what I believe to be the Cowboys greatest problem, in my humble opinion, relative to this matter of winners and losers . . . that problem is at the top of the food chain. Jerry Jones owns the team and has managed to accomplish some remarkable things in marketing the franchise, but he is a poor choice as the team’s General Manager. When he purchased the team, he brought in Jimmy Johnson as Head Coach, and Mr. Johnson demonstrated that he was truly a winner . . . at this level . . . just as he had been at the Division 1 level in the NCAA while at Miami. He coached the Cowboys from 1989 to 1993 and had a winning percentage of .875 and won two Super Bowls . . . 1992 and 1993. That success wasn’t enough for Jerry Jones . . . his ego demanded that he be the Big Dog. The story is that one night in a Dallas bar he picked a fight with Jimmy Johnson claiming the success was more a result of his ability and claimed he could have achieved the same success with Barry Switzwer as his coach. Jimmy Johnson chuckled at his ignorance, invited him to give that a try and walked out. The team Jimmy had built was so good that not even Jerry Jones and Barry could not foul it up for a couple of years . . . and the team won another Super Bowl in 1995.
Jerry Jones then ran through a number of head coaches after he sent Barry Switzer packing. He hired Bill Parcels . . . a head coach with a solid, proven history of winning, but as it turned out Bill was too strong and would not bow down to Jerry. A string of less able coaches followed, but none of them hung around long. Finally, Jerry settled on one Jason Garrett as the head coach. I am not sure what it was that Jerry thought qualified Garrett as a head coach. The dude had never done much beyond playing 2nd string QB behind Troy Aikman, and he was mediocre at-best. He did act as a lower-lever assistant coach some, but nothing noteworthy.
I have been a Cowboys fan since before puberty, and I have always felt an ownership in the team, and loved them when they are winning, and that has been a considerable amount of the time.
After last Sunday’s loss, it seems that the organization will continue to wander in the wilderness for at least a 22nd season without so much as a trip to a NFC Championship game—let alone another Super Bowl. Jerry Jones has crippled the team with a poor quality coaching staff that simply is out-coached week after week, and has proven its inability to make necessary adjustments as the game develops. This is a game of:
- Here is what we are doing:
- Here is what they are doing;
- Here is what we are going to do; and
- This is how we are going to do it.
There is the truth that while the players may be great athletes, most of them are not very smart and need direction.
I would argue that in order for the Cowboys to once again become a great, winning team, a few important things must occur; those being:
- Jerry Jones must get out of the way and quit being involved in team operations; and
- A really good coach with a proven history must be brought in and given free-reign . . . because there is a strong principle employed by true winners . . . they refuse to be controlled by losers . . . regardless of how much money the loser might have.
These are my thoughts on a disappointing season. Will next season be any better? Well, there is an old saying that says if you don’t like what you are getting, then you must change what you are doing, because if you keep doing the same things, you will continue to get the same results.
Success . . . will demand change!