When I first started having vivid memories of football, the Dallas Cowboys were all the craze. They were always on television so it was easy to be captivated in what people were calling “America’s Team.” While they were winning a lot of regular-season games, the Cowboys team I first fell in love with had trouble getting to the Super Bowl. They lost three-straight NFC Championship games to the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and then Washington Redskins in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately, we never got to see the Danny White-led Cowboys in a Super Bowl. Tom Landry’s last playoff appearance was during the 1985 season where the Cowboys lost 20-0 to the Los Angeles Rams. Landry would only last a few more years as he would be fired when Jerry Jones took over the team in 1989.
Fortunately, my college years were filled with a lot of celebrating as the ‘90s Cowboys won three Super Bowls in four years. But as quickly as they rose to the top, the team all of sudden stopped being a contender. The drought had begun. Younger fans who weren’t able to experience the great dynasty of the ‘90s have had it rough. Not only haven’t they seen their team win a Super Bowl, but playoff victories have been scarce. After their championship years, the Cowboys went through four different head coaches - Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells, and Wade Phillips. During that 13-year span with those coaches, the Cowboys on had one playoff win and that happened in 2009 when they beat the Eagles 34-14 in the Wild Card game. Jason Garrett was the team’s offensive coordinator that season and the Cowboys offense had the second most yards that year.
It’s easy to get frustrated with the continued Super Bowl drought. The Cowboys are the youngest team in the NFL so you’re going to hear a lot of people tell you to just be patient - they’ll get there. Entire position groups have been completely remodeled, but that’s a good thing because the front office is killing it with their draft picks. They’ve drafted six All-Pro players over the last eight drafts. That’s ridiculous.
And that doesn’t even include Amari Cooper who is now the team’s 2019 first-round draft investment. If his numbers were pro-rated over a full 16-game season, his name would be added to this All-Pro list.
While the future looks bright, let’s not forget that this team is good right now. The previous four coaches have only one playoff win combined, but Garrett, for all the lack of postseason success that’s been pointed out, now has two playoff wins. The Cowboys have won the NFC East in three of the last five seasons. No current NFC head coach has won more games than Garrett over the last three years. So, the future looks great, but the here-and-now isn’t so bad either.
Let’s embrace this journey and see where it takes us. After starting the season 3-5, many people wanted to blow up the organization. But now this team sits in a very scintillating position. If the Cowboys can pull off the win against the Rams, this team will go to the NFC Championship game for the first time in 23 years. For some fans - it will be a first-ever experience. That’s a big deal. It’s very possible we could be sitting here a week from now talking about whether or not this team can get one more win to get into the Super Bowl. That could actually happen.
Right now may not be a time for reflection as there’s work to be done. But it’s good to have perspective and as a Cowboys fan who has watched this team suffer in the past because Jerry Jones tried to take short cuts, it’s real easy to appreciate what we have right now. The team is loaded with so many lovable guys. This team doesn’t point fingers when times are bad. You don’t have star players taking shots at each other like they do in Pittsburgh. The culture is great, the effort is great, and the talent becomes better with each new day.
It’s a great time to be a Cowboys fan so let’s enjoy it.