I know that there are some eager beavers out there who read nothing more than the title of this post and are now itching to tell the world that "In Dallas, success is measured in Super Bowls," and that anything less is unacceptable. Dear Mr. Eager Beaver, please spare us that entitled nonsense.
What endears us Cowboys fans so much to the rest of the NFL fanbase is our collective ability to hold on to successes from 20 years ago and derive some sort of expectation and relevance from it for today. Yet here we are, with just two playoff wins to show for the last 18 years. With that in mind, and as we prepare for the 2015 season, what do you think would need to happen for this season to be considered a success?
As we saw yesterday, simply repeating a 12-win season is hard enough: Since 2002, only 18 NFL teams have managed to repeat as 12+ win teams. If you exclude teams quarterbacked by Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, that number drops to six teams.
But that's just the regular season, and after last year's success in the playoffs, making the playoffs again is probably a minimum requirement for Cowboys fans. So what's it going to be this year?
How about a season like 2006? The Cowboys end the season with a winning record and make the playoffs as a wildcard team. Unfortunately, they lose the wildcard game on a bobbled hold. Would you consider a loss in the wildcard game a success?
How about a season like 2007? The Cowboys storm out to a 13-3 regular season record, easily win the NFC East and enter the playoffs as the number one seed. They then lose to the eventual Super Bowl winning Giants in the divisional round. Would you consider the number one NFC seed a success?
How about a repeat of 2014? The Cowboys end up tied for the best record in the league, win their wildcard game on the road and then lose the divisional round game in highly unfortunate circumstances. Would you consider playoff wins in two successive years a success?
How about a season like 1994? The Cowboys enter the playoffs as the number two seed and advance to the Conference Championships after handily dismantling the Packers 35-9, only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl winning 49ers. Would you consider making the Conference Championships a success?
What the four scenarios above have in common is each season ultimately ended with a defeat. The fact is that unless the Cowboys win the Super Bowl this year their season will inevitably end in a defeat.
I don't think anything less than a repeat playoff appearance could be considered a success in any shape or form, regardless the circumstances. I also think that getting at least one post-season win is a prerequisite to consider the season a success. But what happens after that? Do the Cowboys have to win the divisional round, do they have to play for the Conference Championship? Or is the manner in which they play the final game (in whatever playoff round it happens to be) more important?
What needs to happen for you to consider the 2015 season a success for the Cowboys?