Although there are always topics to talk about during the offseason, everyone is undoubtedly ready to get to the real deal, the regular season. Because that is where teams truly reveal who has what it takes to be champion.
Being the Dallas Cowboys, the team is always in the news for something, and more often than not, they find themselves being criticized openly. Romo’s blockbuster contract brought out all the naysayers who argued that the Cowboys’ franchise QB doesn’t deserve such a deal because he has only won one playoff game.
Even those of us who belong in the fold of Cowboys Nation wonder about the decisions being made this offseason, and we wonder what is going to be the deciding factor this upcoming season. Will Demarco Murray be the guy who can bring an inconsistent offense consistency? Will Dez Bryant solidify his status as an elite receiver? Will Monte Kiffin’s new defense be an improvement?
All the same questions were asked two or three years ago about Murray and Bryant and Rob Ryan’s defense. None of these guys were failures and yet the Cowboys failed to advance to playoffs again and again. It’s like watching Tiger Woods when he can’t win a golf tournament.
Everyone may have their own answers to these questions but the simple fact of the matter is this – anyone who pays attention already knows the answer.
Cowboys players and coaches have said the answer on countless occasions. It’s not a matter of whether or not the Cowboys have the right players or the right schemes or fewer injuries.
As Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen once put it in an old song, “It’s the little things” that have kept Dallas out of the playoffs year after year.
That phrase may seem a little general and cliché but here’s what the little things are:
Every team must be disciplined if they want to be great. A team that has a turnover difference of negative 13 is NOT DISCIPLINED. Only two teams in the NFC had worse turnover ratio than Dallas. To top that off, the Cowboys averaged 7.4 penalties per game. Only two other teams averaged more penalties.
A great team must always be prepared. The last player on the bench should always be ready if duty calls. What’s worse, the team’s best passing threat, Romo to Bryant, wasn’t on the same page until halfway through the season.
When the QB has to stay at the line of scrimmage calling audibles for the offensive line, the offensive line is NOT PREPARED. When defensive players don’t know where to line up (thanks to Ryan’s awfully complicated defense) and in one instance when only nine defensive players made it on to the field, that is NOT PREPARED.
Camaraderie is a bit vague, but if everyone on the team had the connection that Romo has with tight end Jason Witten, Dallas would be a much better team. For whatever reason, this team seems to lack that sense of brotherhood, necessary for a team to succeed.
Attitude could possibly be the greatest quality of a championship team. Not being closely involved with the team makes attitude hard to judge, but the attitude of the team as viewed on television seemed to be, “Let’s just keep it close enough to give Tony a chance to win the game.”
Refusing to be beaten in one-on-one battles and as a team on the field is the start of good attitude. It is a team sport but that means that EVERYONE on the team has to pull his own weight and win his one-on- one battle on the field for the team to be successful.
Attitude also includes being committed to doing things the right way taking no shortcuts.
It could be argued that, the Dallas Cowboys are a more talented team than defending Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens. However, if there is one thing that the Ravens have, it’s ATTITUDE, and they carried that with them all the way to a championship.
Developing these habits called “the little things” starts now for the Cowboys. In training camp, there must be a meticulous commitment to details and doing things right. Mastering the little things is the only thing that can vault this beloved and highly talented team to the playoffs.