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.
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.