AW

Dallas Cowboys Need Radical Changes to Compete in the NFC East

In Sports on December 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Romo Garrett

Another NFL season has ended with the Dallas Cowboys mired in mediocrity.  Unfortunately, the sad reality for Cowboy fans is that this cycle is not likely to end anytime soon with Jerry Jones at the helm of the most valuable franchise in football.

Once again, the Cowboys wilted in the spotlight of a must-win game.  All of the success that Tony Romo enjoyed over the last half of the season was washed away in one fell swoop with another subpar, big-game performance.  The seasoned veteran couldn’t compete with RGIII, the Washington Redskins’ extremely poised, rookie phenom who was playing quarterback at half-speed because of a knee injury.

Once again, Jones’ “chosen one” was out-coached when it mattered most, but Jason Garrett will return because he is just the type of non-threatening coach that allows Jones to be the face of the franchise.

They say that timing is everything, but it is rare that the stars align perfectly in professional sports.  It happened last season as the Indianapolis Colts were “luck-y” enough to draft Andrew Luck to seamlessly replace Peyton Manning at quarterback.  If this season is any indication of things to come for the Colts, it looks like they will be Super Bowl contenders for many years to come.  The Colts will enjoy continued success because they had the guts to make the tough decision to transition away from a surefire first-ballot hall of fame quarterback for the long-term good of the franchise.

The stars were starting to align for the Cowboys this season, but they did just enough to once again provide enough false hope to maintain the status quo.

At 3-5 at the halfway mark of the season, the Cowboys trailed the New York Giants by 3 games.  It looked as though the Giants would run away with the division, and the Cowboys would end up with a losing record.  But then it happened…

The Cowboys started winning, albeit in very unimpressive fashion.  They continued to win as the Giants continued to lose.  Most experts and football fans believed that the Giants would “flip the switch” when their backs were against the wall, but it never happened.  Somehow, someway the Cowboys ended up playing the Redskins for the division title in the final game of the season.

Romo’s poor play against the Redskins is not likely to dissuade Jones from giving him a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract extension that will tie him to the Cowboys for the foreseeable future.

Garrett’s ability to keep the Cowboys competitive will assuredly keep him around for at least another season, most likely one that will also end in disappointment for Cowboy fans.

We’ll probably never know what went on behind the scenes, but the timing of the Cowboys’ winning streak likely ended any possibility of bringing Sean Payton in as head coach to help put an end to the mediocrity that has become synonymous with the Cowboys.  And therein lies the problem…

The NFC East has two coaches (Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin) who are simply better than Garrett who is still “learning” on the job.  With Andy Reid’s firing, the Philadelphia Eagles are now searching for a new head coach.  The new head coach may or may not be better than Garrett, but that is somewhat immaterial at this point.  The bottom line is that the Redskins with RGIII and Shanahan, and the Giants with Eli Manning and Coughlin are in a better position to win the division for years to come barring an injury-marred season.

Unfortunately, the massive amount of injuries that the Cowboys sustained this season will give Jones a convenient excuse for their shortcomings.  While injuries may have contributed to the Cowboys missing the playoffs again, the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl a few years ago with more starters on injured reserve than the Cowboys had this season, so it really isn’t a viable excuse.

The Cowboys with Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Tony Romo leading the way will never be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.  But as long as fans keep filling “Jerry World” and spending money on Cowboys merchandise, Jerry the salesman will continue to peddle false hope and Super Bowl dreams while continuing to deliver a mediocre product on the field because he is determined to get the credit for winning a championship his way.

For the Cowboys to compete in the NFC East and become legitimate Super Bowl contenders, they must make radical changes, even if it means going through some growing pains.  There is nothing more frustrating for a sports fan than rooting for a team that is always in the middle of the pack.

Rebuilding in the NFL doesn’t have to take several years anymore.  The time has come for the Cowboys to bite the bullet and part ways with Garrett and bring in a head coach who has enough gravitas to change the culture of the organization.

The Cowboys should not extend Tony Romo’s contract.  Let him play out the final year of his contract and see what happens.  There is time to work out  a long-term deal after next season, and if not, there is always the franchise tag to use if necessary.  However, if Romo cannot lead the Cowboys deep into the playoffs next season, then the Cowboys should not lock themselves into a long-term deal with a quarterback who puts up a lot of stats, but comes up short in crunch time.

Of course, all of this is just wishful thinking.  It would be an absolute shock to see the Cowboys start the 2013 season with anyone other than Garrett coaching, Romo at quarterback with an extended contract and Jones as the GM trying to prove that he can once again lead the Cowboys to the Promised Land.

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