The common thread which has tied all Cowboys haters together for the better part of the last 20 years has been the perceived incompetence of Jerry Jones.
Nobody wants to believe that the Owner and General Manager of the Dallas Cowboys has any idea what he is doing when it comes to football decisions.
They point to failed experiments with players such as Adam "Pacman" Jones or, more recently, Greg Hardy to illustrate that Jerry and the Cowboys are simply reckless and "stupid."
Or, they point to the Cowboys lack of postseason success since 1995 as an indication that Jerry Jones is simply lost in this football world.
All of a sudden, these detractors are being clearly proven wrong.
Jerry's son and heir to the Cowboys Executive throne, Stephen Jones, has gradually taken the reigns of the franchise over the past few seasons. He, along with the help of Will McClay and Jason Garrett, have slowly but surely built a winner in the Cowboys from the inside-out.
There has been a clear culture change in Dallas which started with the firing of Wade Phillips. The Cowboys of the Wade-Era were a finesse team who relied on big plays through the air on offense, and tried to just squeak by with an average defense.
Phillips' training camps were described as "Cupcake Camps," for being softer than most around the league. The roster was also filled with guys who had questionable character and a "me-first" attitude which contributed to Dallas leading the league in penalties in 2008, and finishing in the top eight of that list during each of Wade's final three seasons.
The Cowboys hit rock bottom in 2010, but in hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened to them.
Now, with Jason Garrett pushing for his "RKGs" and smart football minds like Stephen Jones and Will McClay at the helm, the Cowboys are on the verge of greatness.
And other teams are taking notice.
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote a story last week about this very topic. In his piece, he quotes an NFC General Manager who says that for the first time since the early 1990's the Cowboys are starting to strike fear in him.
Freeman went on to elaborate on the quote, stating that even more scouts and personnel people in the league believe the Cowboys have a chance at a Super Bowl as soon as next season.
The personnel men I've spoken to over the past few days believe the Cowboys are neatly positioned to win the division and within a year or two—maybe even this season—make a strong Super Bowl run.
After years of ineptitude and disappointment it finally seems like the Cowboys have figured it all out. Nothing illustrates this change more than the infrastructure of the offensive line.
From the selection of Tyron Smith in 2010, to the so-called "reach" for Travis Frederick in 2013, and then to the passing up of Johnny Manziel for All-Pro Zack Martin in 2014, the Cowboys have built this team the right way.
They are young, they are physical, and they are eager to win right now.
The Cowboys only have four players on their roster over the age of 30; Doug Free, Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and L.P. Ladouceur. Free may be on his way out, but Romo and Witten have been models of consistency for the Cowboys for years, and still have a few quality seasons left to play.
If Green starts, the starting OL's ages in wk 1 will be.. Smith: 25 Collins: 23 Frederick: 25 Martin: 25 Green: 24 https://t.co/JbNiqW8vPi
The fact that this offensive line is so young, yet so far ahead of almost every other line in the league is incredible. And, it points to this culture change which has occurred in Dallas.
The drafting of running back Ezekiel Elliott was the exclamation point to this philosophical shift in Dallas. They now not only have the mammoths to protect Tony Romo and create rushing lanes, they also have a young stud in the backfield who can run through them.
The Cowboys have been the butt of many jokes over the past decade. As fans, it has been hard to sit through the constant heartbreak and late season disappointments the Cowboys have endured lately.
But things are starting to change. Despite the 4-12 season a year ago, the Cowboys have made strides each year to make this team a winner. Of course they still have questions about personnel and holes to fill on the roster, but fans should be excited about the direction the Cowboys are headed.
The Cowboys are coming, and other teams should be worried.
Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?
Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.
Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.
Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.
The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."
Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?
Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.
No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.
The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.
All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.
After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.
Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?
Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.
It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.
I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.
I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.
Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.
Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.
The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.
Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?
Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern
What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.
Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.
The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.
That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.
With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.
There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.
The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.
Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.
I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance
A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.
It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.
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