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Monday night’s Dallas Cowboys with the Chicago Bears was just a soul crusher. It was almost as brutal as was having to watch the Eagles overcome the weather to beat Detroit on Sunday. 8-8 and no playoffs is looking like more and more of a reality . . . again.
But really, as Cowboys’ fans, we can’t expect any different outcome. The wounds from which the Cowboys suffer are self-inflicted due to the risk taking personality of their owner/gm/president/head shiny bling-bling dude Jerry Jones.
At first, there was the gamble of taking risks by signing players with history of behavior issues causing distractions at best ruining the locker room at worst. Over the past few seasons, the gamble has been in taking players in the draft who are talented, but injury prone.
In the case of bad behavior off the field, sometimes these risks pay off. But in the case of injury prone players, more often than not, the gamble isn’t paying off. The team winds up beat up and barely hanging on year after year. Then you have a handful of truly great players, like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarcus Ware who find themselves surrounded by second and third string replacements which severely hampers their ability to play to their full potential. Personally, I would rather have a solid player who will consistently be on the field over a great player who plays 9 or 10 games a season.
Then there is the risk of hiring coaches who were once great. There is always a chance that the coach can once again produce amazing results. I was told over and over during the off season not to worry about Monty Kiffin’s lack of production at the collegiate level. “Just look at what he did in Tampa Bay – he will great now that he’s back in the NFL”. Well, just look at what he’s done in Dallas. This defense is setting a lot of records . . . but not any good ones.
The one risk Jerry Jones doesn’t seem to want to ever take is the risk of hiring a new general manager. Since that won’t happen anytime soon, we just have to be happy with 8-8. 8-8 gives Jerry hope because there are so many “if only” situations in an 8-8 season. If only Romo wouldn’t have thrown that last minute interception in Denver. If only we would have one more field goal against Kansas City. If only the defense could have picked up on Matthew Stafford’s trick play at the end of the Detroit game. If only (DeMarcus Ware/Sean Lee/DeMarco Murray/Mo Claiborne/Bruce Carter/Dwayne Harris/Miles Austin/Jason Hatcher/JJ Wilcox/Barry Church/Lance Dunbar/etc.) had not gotten injured for those couple of games.
There are always enough “if only” situations in an 8-8 season, that there is no real reason to make major changes. “If only” takes the onus off of Jerry Jones to change. But what JJ never seems to grasp is that the goal is not to get into these “if only” situations in the first place.
Tony Romo shouldn’t have to win on the last drive of the fourth quarter. He should be kneeling down. He shouldn’t be in a shootout with Peyton Manning: the defense should be making Manning’s life a living hell for three hours instead. A team shouldn’t spend season after season trying to get into the playoffs by sneaking in at 9-7 in week 17. They should be sitting back resting starters and focusing on staying healthy.
I believe that 8-8 offers no hope. It only breeds further mediocrity. It’s the middle of the draft, so you get the average players each round to go with the average players you picked up last year and the year before. I know it sucks, but I think they have to get a lot worse before they can get any better. I think Jerry Jones needs to see a season or two at 3-13 before he clearly gets the message that the organization needs a great football mind at GM. If that doesn’t happen, there will be enough “if only” situations to keep ol’ JJ believing he can pull a Lombardi trophy out of his hat without the help of a Jimmy Johnson type at his side.