Another NFL season, and another Super Bowl that the Dallas Cowboys were not in; that’s 26 straight years to be exact. This feeling is all too familiar for the franchise and their fan base at this point and it lends itself to some hard-to-answer questions, the most important being what is stopping this team from taking the next step?
The 2021 team went from sweeping the NFC East, getting 12 wins, and hosting a home playoff game, to being a team that was unprepared, nervous, and ultimately lacking the focus and execution that is required to win in the postseason. Accountability has been an issue for this team, and although there were issues pertaining to that throughout the season, it seemed to come to a head late in the season and into their playoff matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. One thing was clear, the moment was too big for a star-studded Cowboys team.
Another year has come and gone, and so too comes another season-ending hype video.
The promise of tomorrow with no real success or conviction in the here and now is falling on deaf ears for a fan base that is starved for some real team success. When it comes to this brand we’ve come to expect a certain level of bravado and attention seeking, as it’s clearly been a master class in exposure and money making. However, this offseason the Cowboys franchise needs to get back to football fundamentals. Much like former Cowboy and current Cincinnati Bengal Chidobe Awuzie stated prior to the big game:
Bengals CB Chidobe Awuzie on how the change of scenery in Cincinnati impacted him: “It showed me football can be played without all the lights.”— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) February 9, 2022
“We don’t have an indoor, but it all goes back to that blue collar mentality. That’s the kind of person I am.” pic.twitter.com/pQ9jShfOKw
Enough of the glitz and the glamor, it’s time to earn your attention with your play and not because your owner is a marketing genius.
The reality is this team is going to command attention. They are box office and clearly the appeal is global. However, none of that has produced a championship or even a consistently good franchise over the last quarter century and quite frankly, that needs to change. It starts at the top and demanding execution and proper preparation from your coaching staff, while not only wanting, but demanding excellence from your players. Being able to block out the noise that comes with being a Dallas Cowboy and just playing football without the smoke and mirrors is exactly what this franchise needs.
A team that boasted the top statistical offense in the league, and the most opportunistic defense, could not rise to the occasion and found themselves on the couch after Wild Card Weekend. Whether that came from the moment being too big for the biggest franchise in sports, or it came from a false sense of entitlement, it’s flat out not the standard this team should expect. Being 12-5 and losing in the first round of the playoffs may be a successful season for some franchises, but it is not and should not be here.
The Super Bowl has come and gone. As we sit here and analyze what separates those teams from the Cowboys, it is an intriguing study. On one hand, the Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams mortgaged there future, sold out in free agency, and went all out to win a ring. On the other hand, the Cincinnati Bengals had more of a home grown feel, and although they did fill in the gaps with some key free agent signings, much of their nucleus comes from drafted talent.
What can the Cowboys learn from this game? The most important lesson learned is that there isn’t just one way to get it done and that the Cowboys should continue to try and do well in the draft, but be less afraid of making a splash in free agency if they think it could put them over the top. The cap is real, but it absolutely can be manipulated. This franchise has a top-tier quarterback in Dak Prescott who is heading into his seventh NFL season, and this team needs to do everything in their power build a championship-caliber team around him.
Whatever this offseason has in store for us all, it’s clear that much of the fan base is tired of the same ol’ same ol’. Less talk, more action should be this year’s motto, and the Dallas Cowboys would be better off if that becomes their mindset.