“They're in win now mode.”
Who among us has heard that ad nauseam over the course of the last, oh I don't know, fifty million days?
I've spent a lot of time digesting this supposed ideology over the last week. I contemplated it to my self and talked about it on various audio platforms: The RJ Ochoa Show, The Footbology Podcast with Marcus Mosher, and my fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin‘s school radio show, UFR on WMSC.
When the Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th Overall Pick a conclusion could be drawn that their primary focus was the immediate future, or as some people like to refer to it thanks to a horrible quote from Jerry Jones years ago… The Romo Window. For the record that's an ideology, if you want to call it that, that I'm cool with and had started to fully digest.
My world, and the collective one of Cowboys Nation, was flipped upside down when thirty picks later Jaylon Smith was the name that Michael Irvin called on behalf of America's Team. Jaylon Smith is without a doubt an incredible football player, but given his current health status he is without a doubt an investment in the future.
Wait a minute… I thought we were win now? Isn't that what the Zeke pick said? I made my peace with this, Jerry. I had jackets made up. “Win Now Win Now Everybody Take A Bow” was going to be my rallying cry! I'm so confused now!
The collective national opinion has become that the Cowboys are win now and that the there is simply no explanation for the Jaylon Smith pick, as potentially awesome as it could one day be. People have surrendered themselves to the notion that because the Cowboys want an elite talent behind their stud Offensive Line, whom I've eloquently nicknamed the “Space Cowboys” by the way, they are totally and completely all-in for the remaining years of Tony Romo's career.
Well… shouldn't they be?
Are the Patriots not all-in for the rest of Tom Brady's career? Do the Giants not want to get the most out of the remainder of Eli Manning's days in New York? Will Pittsburgh not be focused on getting another championship before Ben Roethlisberger retires?
Is Tony Romo the only quarterback in the NFL who's team is focused on surrounding with talent for his sake? For his “window”? Of course not, because that's absurd.
Alright class we've now officially debunked the whole “win now” nonsense, but what about this whole rebuilding fiasco? How do we explain the Jaylon Smith pick for example?
I've said this before and I will say it until it no longer rings true: Tony Romo has never played a game where he was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
Romo missed the final stretches of 2010 and 2015 thanks to injury, but every single game that he has ever played whether in the early days of September or the cold and frigid night of December has mattered. There are only two other current NFL quarterbacks with significant time in the league who can say the same, Tom Brady and Joe Flacco.
What does that have to do with rebuilding? Everything. This team in this supposed Romo window has always been in contention. That's an indication that you can make an assumption that, barring injury, the same will hold true in 2016.
Since the Cowboys have that advantage they can afford to draft a player like Jaylon Smith and reap the benefits of him down the road because they will, like they always have been under Romo, be relevant when it matters.
I'm not beyond saying that's an arrogant approach to building a team, but history shows that they can manage that type of risk and be totally fine.
So to answer whether the 2016 Dallas Cowboys are focused on the immediate future or long-term success of this team… they have been, are now, and will always will be focused on both at once. They're just better at it than everyone realizes.