Dallas Cowboys: Michael Vick Tries to Claw into Playoff Picture in the NFC East

Terry SampleContributor IINovember 11, 2012

Vick falls victim to a rabid Dallas Defense
Vick falls victim to a rabid Dallas DefenseScott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys, a decade of mystery. “America’s Team” with the silhouette of Tom Landry’s hat and the stern success of Roger Staubauch in the minds of all fans, now resides squarely in the dregs of mediocrity.

Head coaches have come and gone, coordinators have been celebrated and dismissed, yet the results are eerily consistent. Despite years of failure resulting in favorable draft picks, the ‘Boys have produced nightmare trades (Williams), busted picks on nearly every level, and comic level stretches (Quincy Carter).

So here we are, 2012 and a defense now in its second year under “guru” Rob Ryan, studs DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee and first-round pick Morris Claibourne. Hopes for the angry and frustrated fan base were at an all-time high from the decade of gutter dwelling, and even the skeptics were whispering ‘playoffs.'

The onslaught of injuries came to the offensive line during the preseason and exposed the mistake of using a patchwork line to protect a franchise Quarterback and opening lanes for a newly crowned back-of-the-future in DeMarco Murray. Hiring a proven offensive line coach in Callahan was a gamble, hoping he could put lipstick on a pig.

Tyron Smith is an athletic beast, but has the attention span of a 21 year old—surprising? The free agents who were cut due to poor performance are mimicking the play that got them cut in the first place. Experiment failed.

Establishing an offensive line with that many holes was a failed gamble.

The offense is currently run by the Head Coach, Jason Garrett, and while prolific in terms of points, has—in past years—proved predictable and uninspired. The success the offense is/was due to special players like Witten and Austin most recently, and rare execution.

The last decade overall has been an examination in futility. I have tracked/watched nearly every Cowboys game in this decade, and have been able to not only predict each offensive play (whether run or pass) within 70 percent, but even which direction the play would go. The offensive philosophy run by Dallas has not changed in a decade, and every other team is familiar with that focus.

The 2012 campaign has been particularly painful.

The close games have been marred by pass drops, head shaking choices by Romo, and untimely penalties—penalties which were finally challenged by Garrett with “consequences” that have proven to be empty threats.

A tip—if you are going to challenge and/or threaten your team with consequences due to poor discipline and play, you MUST follow through. Garrett has stood tall and called out his team for sloppy play, then stepped back and handled the situation behind closed doors with Jerry Jones. 

Talent evaluation: WHO specifically picked Quincy Carter? WHO killed the Cowboys draft with Williams? Mike Jenkins in 2011 demonstrated a culture of “giving up”, showing a disgraceful lack of heart. WHO watched that GAME and said “I want him on my team?"

If you work at ANY job, and the slackers get to run the office with incompetence because there is no fear of repercussions, the inmates run the asylum. In this situation, Jerry Jones has his grip on every transaction, and while being the smiling face of success, he shirks the obvious failures with political answer dodging.

No legitimate General Manager would allow Jason Garrett go through the last 50 percent of 2011 and then accept an improved 2012 personnel and say this mediocrity is okay. Jones says it’s “okay” because he won’t admit he made HUGE mistakes with talent, trades and hires.

The Cowboys are my team, and will be forever, so color me biased. I have the guts to admit they are soft, undisciplined, and are run by an egotistical hack that is clueless. Unable to push a fourth and inches? Predictable third down plays? Penalties that are never punished? 

This comes down to culture. Alabama lives with a culture of success and winning. LOSING is not something considered, it is a matter of how Alabama wins, and by how much. It is a function of success and confidence. Winning breeds winning.

The Cowboys have established a culture of mediocrity and failure. We have seen the Lions succeed, the Rams, the 49’ers and the Giants with their receivers. Dallas has a record of terrible internal talent evaluation and overpaying. Let’s ask the question. WHO is responsible?

The team of Jones and Co. is running this ship. They have thrown a shiny new stadium for the masses, which is so cool but SO cold that there is NO home field advantage. It's hugeness is paradoxical—the temple of worship is so large but has no personality or identity.

As a “Boys fan," let me ask you, who is the face of the Cowboys? Who is the Ray Lewis or Marshawn Lynch? People whine about leadership and how it is a group effort. Bullshit. Leadership and winning is not based on individual effort, it is based on attitude. Watching a team like Pittsburgh or Baltimore on defense when the game is on the line is quite different than watching the ‘Boys or ‘Skins lose in the same situation. 

The Patriots swagger into every stadium like they belong there. The Crimson Tide walk into every stadium as if the game is already over and intimidates the opponent with confidence and fundamentals. A corner that can tackle a fullback in the open field is where champions are made. Today’s footballers are arm tackling prima-donnas and Dallas has chosen form (Bryant) over function.

In the end, no fan is satisfied unless their team dominates and destroys the competition.

Nick Saban has that mentality—winning is not enough. In the NFL, “America’s Team” has gradually declined into a predictable shell of former excellence. Times have changed, philosophies have changed due to the differing skills of college athletes, who are faster and stronger. Huge Linebackers are not needed to challenge blocks, but the nimble, fast and explosive tackler and intermediate pass cover is the new Singletary.

The Washington Redskins have done everything possible in the last two years to change their culture of overpaying veterans with no heart. Young and hungry players who buy into a system are exponentially superior to veterans looking to secure a paycheck. The Albert Haynesworth debacle will take years to overcome financially, but Shanahan is just beginning to test the limits of his power with Daniel Snyder.

Dallas is a victim of it’s own negligence. The fans allowed Jerry Jones to single-handedly take over the club as some sort of talent scion and have not held management responsible for failures. Any other organization would look at their business model and terminate the people responsible for making such terrible choices.

The Cowboys consider themselves separate from such scrutiny due to their heritage and reputation. Fans are the only ones who can influence the Cowboys to change, but Jones is a rock of consistency that refuses to acknowledge the deficiencies caused by poor planning and talent evaluation.