America's Dream: Dallas Cowboys Assessed

John MckinnonCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2008

I am going to take this time to break down "America's Team." For those of you that have been napping for the past few decades, “America’s Team” is a moniker for the most over-rated bunch of (sorry I must remain objective); I mean the Dallas Cowboys. In 1979, Bob Ryan, the former editor-in-chief for NFL films, called the Dallas Cowboys “America’s Team” while producing a documentary with the same name. This nickname was also given to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Boston Celtics in the same reference but somehow the Cowboys have assumed the unofficial rights to it.

In the 70s and parts of the 80s Dallas boasted some legendary players, such as Randy White, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Tony Dorsett and Drew Pearson. Though Redskin’s fans disliked these guys they could appreciate the fact that they were granted their accolades based on their performances as opposed to media hype. Fortunately the Redskin’s had some legends of their own that handled Dallas during the first Gibbs era. As a writer and a football fan, I’ve always appreciated pure talent against talent.

Lately at the beginning of every season, the mediots and former Cowboys on ESPN ordain them Super Bowl Champions every season regardless of their previous record. For the first few weeks of the 2007-2008 season it seemed too many Dallas fans that their team was destined for the Super Bowl. In fact many held on to that hope after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins late in the season.
Is Dallas really the juggernaut that many Dallas fans (mostly the one's that don't watch or even know football) are making them out to be or are they a grossly overrated team that benefited from a weak schedule and receives biased support from officials every week? Well to be fair, let’s take a look.
Dallas, though having one of the weakest schedules in the NFL (not their fault but is in conjunction with the overall point, be patient), maximized their efforts last season and beat the teams they should have beaten. This is something Dallas or the Redskins have not done consistently in years, so Kudos. However, when Dallas faced a stout defense, (i.e. Redskins, Carolina, Eagles, and somehow Bills, etc.) they looked very mediocre.
It's laughable how Dallas fans that don't know football (my favorites) attribute Dallas' success to them being better than any other team in the Universe because of the publicity they receive. However, when they play good teams and look average or below average, some of their fans are dumbfounded and wonder what happened (i.e. Jessica Simpson, minds weren't in to the game, etc.).
Tony Romo has struggled (check the stats) with mid to upper level defenses in his first two years. However, he has a strong arm and having Terrell Owens has been a tremendous benefit. He doesn't always make the best decisions (one of the league leaders in interceptions thrown) however he make good reads and has had time to throw due to an upgrade on the O-line.
Now is Romo the future Hall Of Fame quarterback that he's already being ordained to be? John Madden (a guy who knows a little about football) acknowledged Dallas' offense looks very mediocre without the presence of Terrell Owens. Against good defenses Dallas' offense has looked great at times but has struggled even with Terrell Owens in the lineup. Without Terrell Owens this offense is futile.
So once again, is Romo really as great as Joe Buck and Troy Aikman believe? After all, Peyton Manning went without Marvin Harrison all season and the Colts offense haven't broken stride.

Marion Barber made the Pro Bowl this year despite several other candidates gaining more yardage (no that’s not the only barometer.) Barber is a very strong, stocky running back that stays low to the ground. He runs well being a large O line that’s adept at run blocking. However, he didn't look anything like a "Barbarian" (maybe Thundar but certainly not Conan) in the last week of the regular season against the Redskins with 6 carries for minus six yards.
Thinking back to every other Pro Bowl running back as far as I can remember, I've never seen that in my 25+ years of watching and understanding football. Does the presence of TO open up the running game since Defenses have to honor his presence as opposed to focusing on the running game, or is Barber really on Jim Brown's level and the loss against the Skins just a meaningless game? After all, for the past two years this guy was a situational back (short yardage, goal-line) but maybe he really is that good.
Jason Witten has emerged as a good tight end. However, since TO wasn't in the lineup once again he was not able to exploit the holes in a weak zone Defense. When he's played man to man by a good defender he looks a lot like he did in the last few weeks of the season.

Now Dallas' front seven is a strong group collectively. However, the secondary is very overrated and Roy Williams is one of the worst starting safeties in football as far as coverage. However because of the name and facade of Dallas he's a lock for the ProBowl as well.

Wade Phillips looked pretty good as the first year Dallas coach; however does anyone want to take a stab at his playoff record? Anyone, Anyone, Bueller? 0-3. Yet some of their fans and media alike are calling them Super Bowl favorites already. Super Bowl? Wow! I’ve always been under the auspices that teams must win at least one playoff game before they can make it to the Super Bowl and definitely to win it.
People can say what they want, Dallas always has and always will benefit from the phantom calls (game changing calls like pass interference) that conveniently occur when their having trouble moving the ball. Hopefully some of that will be rectified next year, when the league allows other teams to challenge any call that can affect the game.
Despite this fact, our beloved Redskins have beaten them the past 4 out of 6 times. Many Dallas fans would probably refute that and say “but they’ve beaten the Redskins numerous times during the Norv Turner era.” I would respond by saying, “who didn’t?” During that span the Redskins had a better overall record than guess who? You got it—America's Team (as always feel free to do the research).
However, it appeared their goal was to only beat the Redskins and appeal to the aforementioned uninformed fan base. I have spoken to a few Cowboy fans that don’t drink the blue and gray Kool-aid and actually know the sport, as opposed to being individuals that just want them to beat the Redskins.)
I may be a ranting homer that hates Dallas with a passion and just refuses to acknowledge their greatness in every aspect of football. Or this could actually be a substantive article that attacks a gray area that most won't acknowledge.

Hail To The Redskins!