It feels good to be back on the website! The past year and few months were dedicated to finishing my master’s degree (which will be done in 2 weeks), getting engaged, getting married, and now am in the process of moving across the country to Wyoming. I know that getting back to writing freely, and not weekly forum posts and a thesis, will be very welcoming again. I last posted on the NFL…for the 2013 season. So it is only fitting I pick up with the NFL again , but specifically about one team. America’s team. And no it isn’t the Broncos, even the latest Harris Poll would show evidence for the Broncos.
Of course I’m talking about the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have made the improbable rise to 5-1 after an atrocious week 1 loss at home to the San Francisco 49’ers. This is the same team which played their home opener in Jerry’s world filled with what appeared and sounded like more Niner fans than Cowboys fans. The same Cowboys who started the season ranked 23 out of 32 teams, according to ESPN.com, with potential “to have the worst defense in history,” after losing “Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee (again) from a defense that allowed the third-most yards ever last year.” Dallas has now risen to 3 in those same rankings. The media is going C-R-A-Z-Y because the Cowboys are good again. Let us all rejoice!! The Cowboys are back!!! WHOOOOOOOOO!!!! Except it’s not that great, at least for this Cowboy fan. Honestly, it shouldn’t be THAT great for Cowboy fans in general. Here’s why:
Since the Cowboys won their last Super Bowl in the ’95-’96, they have exactly 1 playoff win. One, insignificant, measly playoff win against an Eagles team that the Cowboys had beat the week earlier, and then proceeded to get stomped on by the Favre-lead Vikings. They also only have five playoff appearance in that same time. Only the Bengals, the Browns, the Lions, and the Chiefs have fewer playoff wins then the Cowboys during this same stretch of time, which would be zero. That freaking sucks. Period. The issue is the regular season, especially now in a NFL where there are no longer truly great teams. Because the NFL has achieved its goal of making it so any team has the opportunity to win on any Sunday (or sneak into the playoffs), mediocrity dominates many of the playoff teams regular season records. In the past few seasons, division winners are sometimes 7-9, 8-8, 9-7 etc. Lots of mediocre records are earning playoff home games. In short, the regular season doesn’t matter. A team just has to make it to the playoffs and has shown success. We have seen wild-card teams win three straight road games to get to the Super Bowl and win it. I do not care if the Cowboys go 15-1, Demarco Murray runs for 2000 yards, and Tony Romo wins the MVP. If that doesn’t translate into playoff success, this season will be considered more of a failure than just going 5-11 like many experts expected Dallas would.
Which is fine, because I would argue it’s just jealousy ;). But in all seriousness, the Cowboys must win in the playoffs. Cowboy fans, whether they were delusional views for certain seasons or not, have always expected the playoffs and Super Bowls. Well, why should the change now with the team being 5-1? If anything, those “Super Bowl or Bust” expectations actually have a little traction now. The Cowboys are now going to be playing the rest of the season with a media rush of praise and real expectations of winning. Those are justifiable with the way are the Cowboys are winning. This team has proven for almost two decades, however, that they cannot handle the pressure of winning on the biggest level. Jerry Jones has made it clear that is bothers him that people don’t think he was responsible for the previous Super Bowl titles and wants to be known as a “smart football guy”. It would appear like this team at least has a chance to possibly re-write the past choke jobs that have turned the Cowboys persona and reputation from winners to just a bad joke. But there is still a lot of season left, and a lot left to prove for this team to really get this Cowboy fan fired up.
So I urge all Cowboy fans to be cautiously optimistic about where this team is heading. Beating the Seahawks in Seattle does not mean we are going to the playoffs. It just means we are 5-1 with a quality win. But this team still have their six division games to play, along with games against Arizona, Chicago, and Indianapolis. So there is a ton of work left to do just to get into the playoffs. Show the NFL collective fan base that you are not simply a band wagoner going “WE ARE 5-1! SUCK IT TREBEK! WE ARE WINNING THE SUPER BOWL THIS YEAR! YOU CAN’T STOP US!! NUMBER SIX, HERE WE COME!” Tell your friends of other teams simply, “We are playing really great right now, but just need to keep on trucking, stay healthy, and remain a running team.” Or something like that. Don’t accept 5-1, 8-1, 10-1, or 12-1 as good enough. Support the team, watch the games, yell at the TV when moments are tense, but remember the end goal. It’s playoff success. It has to be, because the regular season wins don’t mean a thing without playoff runs.
In the mean time, I would still encourage the occasional jab at the inferior NFL franchises and fan bases. Let us not forget the Cowboys are 5-1 and Cowboys fans still have a reputation to uphold. After all, they are America’s team.