Being a fan means different things to different people, and I'm fine with that. But I come to Blogging the Boys for one reason: I like the Dallas Cowboys.
I don't just like the Dallas Cowboys when they win. That wouldn't be liking the Dallas Cowboys; it would be liking winning.
I don't just like the Dallas Cowboys when they make the decisions I think they should, or changed all of their schemes and philosophies to match some scheme or philosophy I wish that they had. That wouldn't be liking the Dallas Cowboys; that would be liking my own opinion.
I don't just like the Dallas Cowboys while hating their coaches and players, wanting all or most of them to be fired, wishing instead we had the players or coaches of other teams. That wouldn't be liking the Dallas Cowboys, that would be (at most) loving their uniform, or their name, or some memory about their past.
But I like the Dallas Cowboys. These coaches, these players, this scheme. I love them the way they are.
I realize that a team is always changing, and there's nothing wrong with advocating for change. I liked Dez (at his best) and was frustrated with him (at his worst); I don't hate the decision to let Dez go and move on. I mourned the loss of Witten and Romo, despite believing it was their time to move on. I was glad Wade Phillips was let go, and have no quarrel with those who--unlike myself--will be glad when JG is eventually let go.
But while they are here, I'm more fond of them than not. I enjoy watching them coach (even when they are outcoached); I enjoy watching them play (even when they are outplayed). I root for them to improve, and rejoice in the good I see in them. I like this team.
More specifically: I like the team this year. I like the way we grabbed a second rounder for our O-line, and I believe in his bright future, even if he's having growing pains. I like the way Looney came through in the surprise absence of Frederick. I like the way the offense added some interesting wrinkles (potential-never-realized Austin, developing-well-for-a-third-round-rookie Gallup, gutsy Swaim and intriguing Rico) to make up for a dearth of real WR talent. Shoot, I love that one of our top receivers is the Hobbit. I like the way I saw the passing offense get better as we overcame some limitations. I love that we were able to add a potential game-changer during the bye.
I like the defense. I like the way DLaw is paying off; I remember trading up in the second to get him, and I've enjoyed watching him grow to emerge as a real beast. I like the rotation at D-line and the way Crawford just keeps being a blue collar contributor. I like our drafting, and I like watching some of our free-agent acquisitions contribute, and I like our stud linebackers. I even like them better when they struggle back from injuries, rather than being pristine never-injured stars.
I didn't like the way our offense played the first three games. IMHO, the injuries to Williams and to Austin, the growth with a 2/5-new O-line, and (quite frankly) some measurable rust in Dak, made this a terrible offense for 3 weeks (a win over even-more-terrible Eli Manning notwithstanding). But IMHO, we picked ourselves up and got back in the game, with adjustments by Linehan and by Dak, by the O-line and by the receivers, that made me proud.
I think the Texans played a hell of a game to beat us by 3 points (in overtime), in what seemed to me like a game of inches. I think the Redskins played a hell of a game to beat us by 3 points--and there we were literally inches away from a made field goal and making it to overtime. I thought the Cowboys looked great in both games. I thought we got unlucky in the areas that are most random (losing the overtime battle, not recovering our own fumbles while the other team did, and so forth). I enjoyed each game thoroughly and walked away saying, "What a good team, hope we'll do better next time."
And of course I enjoyed the beat-down of the Jags. Nothing looked "fixed" to me in a quantum way; we were simply playing a team that had a harder time shutting down our run, and that allowed us to make our game plan look perfect. A lot of the blowout disparity of score was simply because this time we got lucky (recovering our own fumbles, capitalizing on some game-of-inches turnovers that they made). I expect to see some more games like that--and against good teams--as well as some more close losses against teams that play us especially well.
I'll enjoy the satisfying wins and, yes, the hard-fought losses, even if we continue to alternate wins and losses. I'm not generally happy about an 8-8 season, but I think we looked great for the last 4 games despite going 2-2. OTOH, we could easily have been 4-0 over the last 4 weeks. I can't guarantee that we'll have a winning record, but OTOH there's nothing about this hard-fighting, slowly-improving team that makes me doubt that we could very well string off 4 or 5 or 6 wins in a row. We'll see.
If we start laying down, getting blown out, proving no challenge to the other team, showing no improvement or fight--then maybe I won't like this team quite as much. Maybe I'll even feel like moaning and groaning. But at this point, I don't. I feel very good about this team. If and when we win our next Superbowl, I'll actually enjoy it more than if we were just some juggernaut with a genius coach and a perfect QB who always won all our games and never had a heartbreaking loss. I'll have enjoyed every step along the way, every player we developed, every draft pick, every struggle, every improvement.
I come to BtB because I learn so much more about the team I love, its players and its schemes, its successes and its failures. I learn from the FPWs and I learn from the posters (some more than others). I learn to see more clearly where we have come and where we still have to go.
But as realistic as I want to be about the actual evidence, I'm going to interpret that evidence favorably charitably, even joyfully. I like this team. I like football, an any-given-Sunday game where wins can't be guaranteed but must be fought for. It's fun.
And that's why I watch it anyway.