This season ended on a very sour note in Philadelphia and I was spared the inconcievable way in which the Cowboys lost to the Eagles due to my travels back from Germany. But as soon as I landed in DFW, I checked the score only to be shocked into disbelief. Who would have thought at the beginning of this season that this team would finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs entirely!
Not me and certainly not most of the sports analysts and media. But since that is the fact, this very same media and analysts have already begun dissecting the reasons for this, as they are apt to do following the regular season. I have to say, quite frankly, I am already truly tired of hearing most of their assessments heading into the off-season, especially those from the likes of Trent Dilfer, Merrill Hoge, Ed Werder and Skip Bayless.
Granted these peoples’ jobs depend on their making news reports and anlaysis, but I think that is their main concern, their jobs, and not actually reporting with any knowledge or forethought of what they are broadcasting. So here is my top ten list of the things being said about my team, the Cowboys, that I’m already sick of hearing and will most likely hear for the entire off-season:
10. Dallas lacks the heart needed to win in the NFL.
I truly doubt that with all of the good players and personnel on this team, that none of them possess the desire or “heart” to win. Sometimes it takes more than heart to win.
9. The Cowboys didn’t have any leadership or enough “chemistry” in the locker room.
Again, same as above, with the caliber of players on the team such as Jason Witten, Terrell Owens, etc. I sincerely doubt that none of these people talked to or tried to motivate their teammates in the locker room. Chemistry in the locker room doesn’t necessarily lead to wins on the field, there are plenty of teams that have great locker room rapport, but lose.
8. They weren’t as talented as everyone thought they were.
This is very close, but again, a general deduction to make, but overall, a false one. They are blessed with tremendous talent, but talent is merely the potential or ability to do something, you still have to actually go out and perform each week to realize that potential. Also, having so much talent, their opponents seemed to do a great job of playing their best against the Cowboys, for example, St. Louis. Also, injuries decimated this team for most of the season.
7. Wade Phillips and the coaching staff lacked the leadership or ability to guide the team.
This is the same head coach and staff that led them to a 13-3 season last year. Yes, they lost in the playoffs, but this could be attributed to many things, some of which may have been coaching error, but they are still the same coaches capable of leading the team to win. With the possible exception of Special Teams coach Bruce Read, who I wholeheartedly agree should have lost his job, if not sooner than he did.
6. There were too many distractions at the end of the season.
These are highly paid professionals involved in possibly the most popular and media-driven sport in the country. Of course there is going to be news stories and reports on their every activity, much as accompanies movie or other media stars. Part of what you get paid for is to overcome such things and perform the duties each week that you are expected to perform as a professional football player.
5. Jerry Jones has driven the team into the ground with his high-profile actions.
Nothing could be further from the truth. He has done his best to acquire the best team with the best chance of winning, has produced two Super Bowl victories and is responsible for continuing to make the Dallas Cowboys one of the most successful and valuable sports franchises in the world. Not to mention it is he who is solely responsible for the much-needed upgrade in playing facilities to the new billion dollar stadium next year.
4. Tony Romo will never be a Super Bowl winner and will always be a “choker”.
It’s always easiest to put all of the blame on the QB after a team finishes worse than expected (but notice I didn’t say with a losing) season. This is the self-same people who touted him as the team savior after he went down to injury for three games and the team went 1-2 in his absence. It still takes an entire team to win and his problems seem to be team-wide in the month of December. If you check the stats, none of the players had a good December the last several years. All that was really gained, in terms of knowledge from this season QB wise, is that you must have a good back-up in the event you lose your star QB to injury. Jason Garrett, of all people, should have been wiser to this fact.
3. The team and its players were not held accountable enough during the year.
You mean to tell me that a man who is paying people the kind of money that these players received for this season isn’t holding them accountable for their play! I don’t think Jerry Jones has gotten where he is by not holding those under him accountable for their performance. He is simply locked in contractually to the majority of these players so can do nothing but hope that their play will improve in the coming years.
2. The Cowboys were overrated heading into the season and last year was a fluke.
What a load of crap this analysis is to anyone who knows and follows football. Expectations were incredibly high at the start of the year, yes, but deservedly so. The talent at each position heading into this season was over-the-top and loaded, but again, as I said earlier, talent is merely potential and must be utilized to achieve goals. In fact, it is these very same expectations early on that could have helped fuel the meltdown at the end. Look at last year’s Giants team, no one expected much of them during or late in the season, but they emerged champs.
And my number one “most tired of hearing already” response to the Cowboys underachieving season is:
1. Dallas will never win as long as they have Terrell Owens on the team and he is the reason for them not winning.
I, admittedly, was not a T.O. fan when he came to the Cowboys three years ago, but to say this is to show true ignorance. His stats alone prove that he is a tremendous asset and most assuredly a future Hall of Fame inductee. Over a thousand yards receiving and ten T.D.’s is not a recipe for losing. Distractions, you say. I say his biggest distraction is to opposing defenses. He is a competitor who doesn’t like to lose and who the media loves to follow. He is right in the sense that is up to the team to figure out how best to make use of him, whether that is getting him the ball or optimizing other players when he is the focus of the defense.
So there you have it, my long and rather lenghty Top Ten list, but if you really look at what happened this season, you’ll see that most of these are not the true reasons the Cowboys failed to meet expectations or even make the playoffs. Everyone in the organization has promised change in the coming months that will hopefully improve the results next year, including coaches, owner and players. The only thing us fans can do is wait and hope that this season will serve as a “wake-up” to our team and they will do their best to improve in the off-season.