Things like this often happen in sports. Every now and then you’ll see a repeat of division winners, a certain team that leads the league in a respective category, or the same two teams meet in the Super Bowl. There are only a certain number of possible results (as large as that number is).
When you look at what happened over the course of last season for the Cowboys though, the common denominators grew significantly. In many ways we re-witnessed the same three-year stretch that we all saw a decade ago. It’s quite the phenomenon.
This has been a working theory of mine along with NFL Network’s Bobby Belt. He and I recently expanded on these thoughts on the latest episode of BTB’s The Ocho to properly flesh out just how much things have stayed the same as they were for the Cowboys.
Let me be clear that nobody is saying anything is definitely going to happen now as a result of all these coincidences. They’re a lot of fun to look at and point out, but what lies ahead is still unwritten (I think that’s a Natasha Bedingfield song).
2007 = 2016
This one should be pretty obvious.
This was the first year of the new generation, Tony Romo and Dak Prescott. The Cowboys were an insanely good team from start to finish and pulled off franchise-best 13-3 records in both seasons. They also both were the top seed in the NFC and were bounced in the Divisional Round.
Interestingly enough, it was back in 2007 that Tony Romo and Jason Witten took the infamous Cancun trip before their playoff game. While it wasn’t Dallas that did this in 2016, the New York Giants drew comparisons to them for going on their own trip before their Wildcard matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
This was the year of domination for both teams, the first full season under their brand new quarterback. Unfortunately, in both instances, it led to some pretty severe disappointment.
2008 = 2017
This was the year that we all wish we could forget, the horrible one in the middle of each stretch. These were the similarities I drew up in last year’s post, although we’ve definitely thought of a few more in hindsight:
- Cowboys go 9-7 following 13-3 and a divisional round exit
- The Cowboys had a quarterback start his second full season
- A fourth-year Cowboy named DeMarcus had his way with the NFL
- Trouble starts to brew with the Cowboys star receiver
- Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers missed the playoffs
- An NFL team went 0-16
- The Tennessee Titans made the playoffs with a third-year, first-round quarterback
These are all unfortunate, save for the one involving Green Bay, but upon further reflection I’ve realized there are more that we can add.
2008 marked the last game for the Cowboys at Texas Stadium and while nothing will really compare to that in terms of significance for Dallas fans, 2017 was the last time they played at the home of a different historic team... the Oakland Raiders.
The game in Oakland happened almost nine years to the day that the Cowboys hosted the Ravens at the stadium with the hole in the roof, but that’s not where the similarities between those two seasons end. You see, I originally wrote last year’s post in January right after the regular season ended, but the playoffs had yet to truly unfold and we all know the horror that came from them.
Just like in 2008, Cowboys fans were rooting against a Pennsylvania-based team in the Super Bowl after the 2017 season. Originally it was the Pittsburgh Steelers in an effort to limit them from beating the Cowboys to six titles, a year ago it was the Eagles for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, it broke against us in both instances.
What’s more is that when I wrote about this subject last year Dez Bryant was still on the team’s roster; however, just like after the 2008 season the Cowboys chose to move on from their star wide receiver (Terrell Owens then) as they released him last offseason.
This was a crazy enough concept after all of that, but then last season happened.
2009 = 2018
This entire subject jumped to the forefront of my mind again on Sunday when I realized that at the time of each Toy Story premiere (there have been four movies and I haven’t seen the fourth yet so no spoilers) the Cowboys were reigning NFC East Champions. That’s cool.
There’s way more to this, though. Obviously the Cowboys won the division both in 2009 and last season, and they won playoff games in both instances (both playoff wins took place on the Saturday night of the Wildcard Round against bird-mascot’d teams wearing green, too. AND both of those teams had been in the Super Bowl five years prior, only the Seahawks won though).
Obviously one of the biggest connections between these two seasons is the statement win that the Cowboys had against the New Orleans Saints. Both times the Cowboys shocked the world, and both times it was exhilarating.
What’s even more insane is that it was in these two seasons that the Cowboys found the answer to having moved on from their star wide receiver in someone nobody suspected at the beginning, a dude who wore number 19.
Miles Austin arrived in 2009 and Amari Cooper arrived in 2018. Only one of them required a trade, but both revolutionized their offenses and took the team to a new level. You couldn’t have planned these similarities if you tried, they’re that insane.
One final bit of insanity that connects these two seasons has to do with what triggered the thought process for me again lately - Toy Story. The third installment of the franchise came out in the summer following the 2009 season, and wouldn’t you know it the fourth installment came out this summer... following the 2018 season.
It goes without saying that we’re all hoping to avoid a 2010-like result for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys. It was of course during that infamous 2010 season when Tony Romo was injured seriously for the first time, Wade Phillips was fired, and the Jason Garrett era began.
What’s interesting (unless you’re Jason Garrett of course) is that there is already one stark similarity between that horrific year and the upcoming season for Dallas. While following both third years the Cowboys decided to move on from local heroes that wore number 11 as receivers (Roy Williams and Cole Beasley) we’re talking about something else.
It was during a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants that Tony Romo was hurt and lost for the season, a bit coincidental considering he made his debut for the Cowboys on MNF against the G-Men four years prior.
Did you know that the Cowboys play the Giants on Monday Night Football in 2019? It’s literally the first time that they are squaring off in the final game of a week since that 2010 matchup. That’s downright unbelievable.
We’ve already watched enough of the same story over the last three years, it’s time to shift things up a bit. How about instead of a season that’s lost and forgotten the Cowboys pull one off that’s memorable for the exact opposite reason?