If you asked me to illustrate what life is like rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, I would tell you to just imagine yourself on a rollercoaster. See, you get built up with anxiousness, excitement, and fear while you slowly climb to the top of the ride, but then suddenly reality hits, and now you're spiraling 100 miles per hour back to Earth.
The Dallas Cowboys, who have not sniffed the word Super Bowl for 26 consecutive years, have had fans falling on a downward spiral since 1996, and it seems like fans will never know when the franchise takes them back to the top.
Every year it goes without question that if you ask any Cowboys fan about their title odds, they will tell you the famous saying, “this is our year.”
Since their last title, there has been a multitude of players and coaches that walked through the doors who Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones proclaimed would take them back to glory, but the only thing accomplished is consistent failures. (But hey, at least you're making money Jerry!)
As usual, the failures continued this season when the Cowboys suffered an early exit in the Wild Card Round to the San Francisco 49ers, and following such loss, Head Coach Mike McCarthy was questioned if he was the right fit to lead the franchise.
McCarthy, who is entering his third year, heard those comments grow louder when Saints Head Coach Sean Payton announced his retirement, and people saw a scenario where Jones was capable of convincing the former 2005 Cowboys Assistant Head Coach to change his mind and replace McCarthy.
Additionally, Cowboys Defense Coordinator Dan Quinn was another name viewed as a replacement since he was being interviewed for several head coaching positions, and some felt he would only remain in Dallas if he were promoted to the top.
Despite the rumors, McCarthy is still likely to remain on the sidelines, but he may feel the pressure intensify after he failed to take a team that was top-10 on both sides of the ball on a deep playoff run.
That leads to the question that I pose for fans: Is it appropriate to label next season as Super Bowl or Bust for McCarthy?
From the beginning, McCarthy wasn't seen as the savior for the Cowboys, but Jones insisted he was the right fit based on his winning experience. (Just one title with arguably the most talented quarterback in NFL history during his tenure with Green Bay, nice hire Jerry! I also think it's funny and ironic that McCarthy won the Super Bowl as the Green Bay Packers Head Coach in Cowboys Stadium, but let's get back to the article.)
In his first season, the “winning coach” went 6-10, but I give him a mulligan since starting Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott went down with a season-ending injury, and the season became a lost cause.
With Prescott back, the team went 12-5 and won the NFC East Division title, but everyone knows their fate once the playoffs rolled around.
And now entering his third year, it could be argued that if McCarthy doesn't at least make a Super Bowl appearance, he could be searching for a new job.
Based on a small sample size of the NFC next season, I would argue only two teams stand in the way of this franchise making an appearance in Glendale, and that's the Los Angeles Rams and the Green Bay Packers.
I chose the Rams because they will be the defending champions, but personnel-wise it looks cloudy given all of their free agents at key positions. Additionally, the Packers were considered because of Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but there are possible scenarios where he could be traded.
To me, all other teams in the NFC either are in rebuild mode, overrated, pose questions in their personnel, or lack pieces to strike fear in the Cowboy's heart.
I understand you could say well the Niners just beat the Boys, but they might be rolling with 2nd-year Quarterback Trey Lance as the starter, who has had no experience yet.
So, to answer my question, I do think it is appropriate to label it next season as Super Bowl or bust for McCarthy.
There are no more excuses that can be made on why the team constantly fails every year because the resources are there in Jerry World to succeed, and the NFC is there for the Cowboys to take.
Overall, anything below a Super Bowl appearance or victory, then McCarthy is long gone. There could be fingers pointed; the team lacks players at key positions, the owner is too invested in the team, but in the end, McCarthy has to step up and lead this team.
I also understand some people argue Prescott isn't getting help from the offensive line, the defense isn't getting enough pressure, or the play calling is predictable. But sometimes winning teams just get it done.
Look at the Cincinnati Bengals who were led by Quarterback Joe Burrow to the Super Bowl that had no help from his offensive line, a young, inexperienced coach, and were a couple of minutes away from winning it all. Now ask yourself are the Bengals overall more talented than the Cowboys besides their Quarterback position?
As the offseason rolls, it's likely shifts will still be made in team personnel around the NFC, but next season has to be considered the franchise's best shot at reaching the Super Bowl. Along with the Rams and Packers being their only competition, the biggest break the franchise got is not having to face Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Tom Brady anymore since he recently retired.
Besides themselves, those three were the main obstacles for the Cowboys but now they are likely only to see one or two during the run, so there shouldn't be any reason they can't go far.
After flopping this season with the amount of talent McCarthy had, I would bet he's pleading to ownership to make some massive moves, or to get another crack at it with the same players. Whichever it is, we can only pray that the Boys finally get back to a winning culture that they have lacked for over two decades.
So, what do you think Cowboys fans? Is next season Super Bowl or bust for Mike McCarthy?