44-6? Seriously, that's how it ends? As fans, we dedicate a certain portion of our life to the Dallas Cowboys, some more than others, and when we get an ending like this the emotions run the gamut. Anger, sadness, numbness; you name it and some Cowboys fan is feeling it. All the way back to last year's loss in the playoffs to the Giants we've been waiting for this season, full of hope and promise, only to see it all come crashing down around us. There's nothing left for us now except to sort through the mess and try to re-build. This is the essence of sports. We love it so much but we know that most of the time we'll end up disappointed. We live for those magical seasons when it all comes together and the payoff is supreme. Still, in the grand scheme of sports those seasons are few and far between. When you get on a run like the Cowboys had in the early 90's or the Patriots had earlier this decade, you have to savor it for all it's worth because it will end. Then you're left with only the belief that one day they will return.
They didn't return for us in the 2008 season.
Now we enter the offseason. Land of purgatory where shattered souls wait for redemption even though they know they could be right back in the same spot next year. That doesn't deter the true fan and in some ways maybe we should enjoy the journey as much as the destination. That's hard to do when you're in the midst of the games. Now we are without the games. Now, we commiserate with each other in our dejected state and pray that the organization will make the correct moves this time. We won't know if they have until just about this time next year.
I know that my confidence in the organization has been shaken. A roster with this much talent should have produced better results. They didn't. There needs to be a serious case of soul-searching going on at Valley Ranch over the next couple of weeks and that's starts at the top with owner/GM Jerry Jones. Could his instincts have been wrong? Did he assemble a cast of all-stars instead of a team? Were his choices of coaches flawed? On some of these counts the answer is yes. I will be dishing out my opinions in the coming days and eagerly wait to read yours. All the while we'll be watching for clues in the press reports about what direction this franchise will be moving.
At the moment I'm inclined to believe that a change at head coach would be the best way to serve the organization. Wade Phillips has proven to be a great defensive coordinator and a good regular-season coach but his ability to get the win in the big games has never manifested itself. With a younger coach I could believe that with experience this could change, with a coach who has been around as long as Wade I find it a leap of faith that I can't make. I'm not on a campaign to get him fired but I would be happier if he was replaced. Right now, I don't have the answer as to who that may be, I would need time to scan the landscape. In the end though, it doesn't really matter what I think and to this point Jerry has given every indication that he will stick with Wade for another season.
As for the rest of the staff, I guess anything is possible. If special teams coach Bruce Read isn't fired soon, then my faith in Jerry will truly be tested. I also expect other changes to be made among the assistants if this team is really serious about changing its fortunes in 2009. If I had my dream scenario Jerry would fire himself as GM and bring in someone with a long history of success. We all know that won't happen. Just like we can't really affect what happens in the games we can't really affect what Jerry does in the offseason. As Cowboys fans we just have to deal with it. You can say if he doesn't do this or that then you won't support the team but if you're like me that's a hollow threat. I could no more give up the Cowboys than I could breathing. In fact, those two things will occur at the same time one day in the future, but never before.
I'm a Cowboys fan for life, even when I'm as mad at the team as I am right now. That's the life we've chosen as sports fanatics and as supporters of the Star.
Hold tight, the past can't be changed but the future is always open to possibility. There's always next year and this blog will be covering the Cowboys future every step of the way.
Maybe by this time in 2009, 44-6 will be thought of as the score that launched us on our way. Maybe it will be just the right amount of humiliation to cure whatever it is that is ailing this franchise.
I know I'll be here to find out. I hope all of you will be, too.