The reality is...It is week 15 in the 2011 NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys have accumulated to this point 7 wins and 6 losses. We have blown 4th quarter leads in five of six losses, including each of the last two weeks. We have a QB who cant make the big play, a coach who cant get out of his own way, and the only kicker in the league who actually gets iced (doesnt matter by which team, either). Our Defense is atrocious, and our special teams always finds a way to negate anything good that we do. Even the new star running back is now out for the year.
If you happen to own one of those things called a "television", or maybe you possibly have one of them new high-tech "computers", you already know the season is over. ESPN and their professional cohorts have already lowered our dead dreams, deep into the ground. The pundits have picked up their shovels and started tossing dirt upon our season, as to finally bury the disgraced star. Once so full of promise and hope, our beloved team has faded into the darkness so rapidly, so abruptly, so shamefully...
Yet, as i sit here and peruse all the blatant negativity and pessimism raging on the interweb about Dallas nation these days, I am left with one simple question. One simple word, even.
Make the jump if you havent burned your jersey and ripped the fathead off the wall yet...
Thats right. Why? Why is the season over? Why the doom and gloom? Why do the Cowboys have a worse shot at making the playoffs than does Justin Tuck at actually looking good in boots if he wanted to? Its not time to write this team off, its time for us fans to man up and back them more fiercely and ferociously than we have all season.
Like I said, we're 7-6. But does everyone and their mother forget to remember that, at this point, it is good enough FIRST place in our division? Yup, first place. Sure, we don't see the star in that little box indicating who, if the season ended today, would make the playoffs. But holy short-term-memory-loss batman, we did last week! and the week before that! and even the week before that! This team has been competing for a playoff spot all year. Thats right, competing. They havent been dominating (as duly noted so graciously by all the afore-mentioned sources), but they have been right there all season long. Thrilling victories, crushing defeats, weve seen our fair share. But now, after only two losses, we are all ready to give up, kill the coach, burn the DC, and blow up the stadium.
Are we that entitled that anytime we have to fight for something we just shy away and wait for greatness to walk into the big, shiny doors at Jerry's World? I'm 22 years old. I don't remember the triplets, or the dynasty, or the doomsday D, and i definitely dont remember Staubach and Dorsett. But i do remember three straight years of 5-11. I remember the snap heard round the world vs. the Seahawks. I remember 44-6 vs. the Eagles. And i especially remember the Dallas Cowboys of 2010. The pitiful, disgraceful, disheartening Cowboys of 2010. That was a mere one year ago. Last year at this time it was full on draft season, dreams of sugarplum faeries being replaced by the fantasies of Patrick Peterson or Von Miller in a Cowboys uniform...(which still are nice thoughts, however unreasonable)
And now, one single year later, we are fighting for first place in our division. Yes, the losses have been excruciatingly painful. But the wins have been just as thrilling. Where people see an un-clutch quarterback, I see a man pouring his heart into the team and playing the best ball of his life. Where people want to see our coach's head on a spike outside the doors of Valley Ranch, I see a coach who in a little over a year has lost 8 games by a total of 27 points (excluding the Eagles from earlier 2011). Hes replaced a losing culture with a fighters mentality, all without an offseason to implement it. He has given us a chance to win (almost) every single game that the 'Boys have suited up for...Can you ask for more than that from your coach? Our kicker has already set the league record for game winning field goals by a rookie, and has narrowly missed extending that record by two in the last two weeks. The defense has struggled, but you cant say that Jenkins, Ratliff, Hatcher, Sensi, Norris (Lee) and company havent been fighting like Hell to stop it. Remember Jenkins shying away from the hit in Green Bay last year? Remember the D-Line being driven 4 yards back before the RB even got the ball? Those sights have been replaced with tenacity this year, even if the talent isnt always there to back it up.
So people, all I'm really saying is this: The reality is...We're still in it. We're fighting. Its time to buck up. Put on the jersey when you go to the bar this Saturday to watch the boys (even if you live upstate NY, as i do, surrounded by piggish and bigoted Giants fans). Have faith. The offseason will be here soon enough, why waste these last few weeks (hopefully more than three) of football planning for all the massive and irrational changes that you would bring to Arlington. Instead, enjoy the fight. Revel in it. Talk more trash than you did when we were on a 4 game winning streak. For others to truly fear the star, they must fear those who believe so fervently within that star. Stand up, and profess your love and belief in the FIRST PLACE COWBOYS.
Because who knows, three weeks from now, we might be in for a little holiday magic.