The 17 Years Myth

Frequently we've been hearing "THEY HAD 17 YEARS" from a large number of people who are, rightfully, frustrated with the Cowboys play lately. Recently in a thread, an old one at that, I posted got a good response there so I figured I'd post it here for a bigger discussion:

Can we just retire the “17 YEARS!!!!!” line of garbage? It’s so stupid, oversimplified, and misleading you’d think you’d heard it on ESPN How is this remotely the same team, the same organization even, that won the Super Bowl in 1996 or went 5-11 three years in a row? I mean I’m a Yankee fan also, and a lot of the homers there like to say “THIS IS THE ORGANIZATION THAT WON 27 ROCKS!!!!” True, but I fail to see what that has to do with having a shaky pitching staff, a bullpen that was decimated by injuries, and a line up with highly paid declining veterans. Much like the success of the DiMaggio, Ruth, Gehrig, and Mantle days have very little to do with the Yankees today, the failures of the Campo and Quincy days have very little to do with the Cowboys today.

From 1988 to 2002 how many good drafts did the Cowboys have? They just had three good ones in a row now. No David LaFluers or Sherman Williamses here. Instead they correctly identified their weaknesses, and more importantly correctly identified the elite players in the draft and selected the right guys. No not every pick is going to be a success, but most of the picks they made were either good picks, upside picks, or picks at a position of need. This team correctly understands their flaws.

Do you really think they’ll be starting Quincy Carter or Chad Hutchinson at QB anytime soon? Please, they have two back ups that are better quarterbacks than both of those guys. That alone, is enough to justify a renewed sense of optimism. I mentioned the three 5-11 seasons in a row, do you think we’ll see that again anytime soon? When Parcells was canned there were a lot of worries, and lets see how these things turned out:

Jerry will never give another head coach power, and just wants a puppet…false.
The Cowboys won’t have an elite QB…emphatically false.
Jerry will never draft a WR in the first round…Dez Bryant says hi!
Jerry won’t draft an OLman in the first round…Tyron Smith is going to pancake you.
Jerry keeps around all these troublemakers…why do you think TO is currently playing football in Canada?

There’s a lot of complaints about JJ that were around in the bad old days, that really aren’t true anymore. Now is everything perfect? Absolutely not. You mentioned Roy Williams and they’re still suffering the repercussions of that trade. JJ’s justification at the time was that he wasn’t in love with the first round talent in that year’s class so he was comfortable surrendering a first, okay stupid in hindsight and justifiable at the time. I think think they learned their lesson on that one. They’re only trading good picks now to get good players. Also, really what separates good teams from bad ones are really three things:

Good scouting: BirdDog, who is a pro scout, has worlds of respect for Tom Ciskowski. He’s had three pretty good drafts in the past, and we’re not sure how much say he’s had in the war room in the past, but the Cowboys’ problems have basically been two bad drafts in 2006 (which was just bad drafting straight up) and the RW trade, which was bad GMing. I’d like to know who was responsible for Bobby Carpenter more than anything here. However, those in the business like Ciskowski, he was even strongly considered for the Colts position. The organization that was about to begin the Andrew Luck era, considered Ciskowski to be the man to lead them to the promised land yet again. That's high praise and I'm glad that he's here.

Good coaching: You touched on this, and I think the critiques of Garrett are at least half way fair. He’s been the OC for a while, and he hasn’t opened up the playbook the way elite OC’s need to yet as head coach. While he did have some great offenses in the past, there were still somethings missing. I wasn’t in love with his playcalling last year either. I will say this though, his playcalling as OC and his playcalling as OC and Head Coach might not be the same thing, his playcalling was dealing with a weak power run game and other weaknesses in the offensive line, and his playcalling abilities and his abilities as Head Coach are two different skill sets, i.e. just because his playcalling isn’t top notch doesn’t mean that he can’t be an elite Head Coach. A head coach’s job is more about getting the team prepared on Sundays and assigning the right people for the right jobs. You can hire good coordinators to scheme and call the right plays. I wanted Todd Haley as the OC, FWIW.

Identifying your own weaknesses: Really, what’s the quickest way to improve your team? Take your five worst players from last year and replace them with good players. If you do that every year, you’ll be in pretty good shape. They did identify their weaknesses in a brilliant manner. Last year with the OL, this year with the secondary, and even picking up guys like Murray at positions where we didn’t think that they needed a whole lot of help, but it turns out that they did need help at that position. Now, yes they still didn’t address Center, and they are showing a lot of faith in Doug Free that may not be deserved…but they’re not sticking with Quincy Carter at QB. They’re not farting with a walkman on anymore, they recognize their weaknesses and they're at least addressing them.

The team’s changed quite a bit. There were the golden years which lasted until about 1998 when Aikman started to go downhill, and then there was the Campo/Quincy era which lasted until 2003, then it was Parcells, and now it’s the Romo years….the team’s gone through a lot of changes. Is it enough?, not just this by itself, but they're on the right track. Rome wasn't built in a day, and most of these teams that Cowboys fans wish that they were more like have been in place for quite some time. The Steelers have had three coaches since 1969, Coughlin and Eli have been together since 2004, Brees and Payton have been together since 2006, and how long were Dungy and Manning together before they first won it? Brady and Belichick were the only ones that won right away, okay, Brady's a top five QB of all time and Belichick is a top five coach of all time and easily the best in the league right now. I agree, the team needs to get better in plenty of areas, however, I feel it's only fair to judge them by their most recent moves.

Think about this: The Baltimore Ravens are trying to win with an elite defense, and an offense built around a competent QB and a strong running game….that style of play hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2002, and the Ravens have gone 12 years without a rock. They’re always close to winning it all, but the real problem isn’t the problems that the Ravens are addressing…the real problem is that Flacco, and his predecessors, might not be good enough to win a Super Bowl, an issue the Ravens haven’t addressed in a while. Which is the better organization? The one that’s oh so close but at the same time so far away, the organization that’s not taking that next step to compete in today’s NFL? Or the organization that has work to do, but is at least starting with a team built in the mold of the teams that have won Super Bowls in the past? The Cowboys are at least trying to fix the right problems, and they're building a team in the mold of the teams that have had success in the past decade and the Cowboys teams that experienced success.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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