All Right, Let's Take a Look at the State of the Cowboys

CowboysPrideContributor IMay 13, 2009

If one were to take the most pessimistic look possible at the goings-on with the Cowboys, what would that look like when presented?

Next, if it really isn't as bad as the worst of naysayers imply, then where does it fall and how realistic is optimism in this picture?

Fair enough a start point? If so, then let's start on a evaluative journey....involving the Dallas Cowboys.

To start with, the top of the flow chart has to receive some scrutiny. Here, to start with a negative vein, many fans and media alike have been not too subtly calling for the head of none other than Jerry Jones himself.

The mental associations start with his flashy participation and high profile tendencies around any and everything involving changes in the Dallas Cowboy organization.

Now to be honest, one has to evaluate this negative view and see what is involved in this projection. First, the charge, meddlesome and overbearing to the detriment of the organization.

Now, proof here is almost purely subjective except when an observer puts his own values and associations in place as indicators of change. To be fair here, the negative view has to be assumed and followed through with. So, here goes....

Jerry Jones has a history of putting his ego in the way of team constructive decisions and in the process has limited the dynamics of those placed in charge of directing the team to success.

The list of head coaches for the Dallas Cowboys has been a turnstile of short termed and ill prepared coaches that have served mainly as an extension of the ego of Jerry Jones himself.


To do this, we must look at supportive facts of the franchise let's start that journey first.

The Cowboys joined the NFL as a 1960 expansion team.[2] The team's national following might best be represented by its NFL record of consecutive games in front of sold-out stadiums.

The Cowboys' streak of 160 sold-out regular and post-season games began in 1990, and included 79 straight sellouts at their home, Texas Stadium, and 81 straight sell-outs on the road.[3]

An article from Forbes Magazine, dated Sept. 10, 2008, lists the Cowboys as the most valuable sports franchise in the United States, and second in the world (behind the United Kingdom's Manchester United), with an estimated value of approximately $1.612 billion, ahead of the Washington Redskins ($1.538 billion) and the New England Patriots ($1.324 billion).[4]

They are also one of the wealthiest teams in the NFL, generating almost $269 million in annual revenue.[5]

The Cowboys have been one of the most successful teams of the modern era (since 1960). The team has won five Super Bowls and eight conference championships.

The Cowboys have more victories (41) on Monday Night Football than any other NFL team; the Miami Dolphins are second with 39 and the San Francisco 49ers are third with 38.[6]

They hold NFL records for the most consecutive winning seasons (20, from 1966 to 1985) and most seasons with at least ten wins (25).

The team has earned the most post-season appearances (29), a league record of 56 post-season games (winning 32 of them), the most division titles with 20, the most appearances in the NFC Championship Game (14), and the most Super Bowl appearances (8).

The Cowboys also played in two NFL championship games before the NFL's 1970 merger with the American Football League.

The Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in just four years (a feat that has been matched only once since, by the New England Patriots). They are second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers with most Super Bowl wins (tied with the San Francisco 49ers with five each).

The Cowboys' success and popularity has earned them the nickname "America's Team". Before the 2008 season an ESPN's Page 2 statistical comparison of all teams since the AFL-NFL merger had the Cowboys narrowly beat out the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top of its Ultimate Power Ranking.[7]


That is the story of the Dallas Cowboys to present, but let's start to single out the part that belongs with the Jerry Jones portion of that journey....

As the Cowboys suffered through progressively poorer seasons (from 10–6 in 1985 to 7–9 in 1986, 7–8 in 1987, and 3–13 in 1988), Bright became disenchanted with the team.

During an embarrassing home loss to Atlanta in 1987, Bright told the media that he was "horrified" at Landry's play calling. Bright sold the Cowboys to Jerry Jones on February 25, 1989.

Jones immediately fired Tom Landry, the only head coach in franchise history, replacing him with University of Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson. With the first pick in the draft, the Cowboys selected UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman.

Later that same year, they would trade veteran running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for five veteran players and eight draft choices.

Although the Cowboys finished the 1989 season with a 1–15 record, the worst record since the team's inception, "The Trade" later allowed Dallas to draft a number of impact players to rebuild the team.

Johnson quickly returned the Cowboys to the NFL's elite. Skillful drafts added fullback Daryl Johnston and center Mark Stepnoski in 1989, running back Emmitt Smith in 1990, defensive tackle Russell Maryland and offensive tackle Erik Williams in 1991, and safety Darren Woodson in 1992.

The young talent joined holdovers from the Landry era such as wide receiver Michael Irvin, guard Nate Newton, linebacker Ken Norton Jr, and offensive lineman Mark Tuinei, and veteran pickups such as tight end Jay Novacek and defensive end Charles Haley.

In 1992 Dallas set a team record for regular season wins with a 13–3 mark. In January 1993, only three years after their 1–15 season, the Cowboys earned their first Super Bowl trip in 14 seasons.

Dallas crushed the Buffalo Bills 52–17 in Super Bowl XXVII, during which they forced a record nine turnovers.

Johnson became the first coach to claim a National Championship in college football and a Super Bowl victory in professional football. The following season, they again defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII, 30–13.

The Cowboys sent a then-NFL record 11 players to the Pro Bowl in 1993: Aikman, safety Thomas Everett, Irvin, Johnston, Maryland, Newton, Norton, Novacek, Smith, Stepnoski, and Williams.

Only weeks after Super Bowl XXVIII, however, friction between Johnson and Jones culminated in Johnson stunning the football world by announcing his resignation.

Jones then hired former University of Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer to replace Johnson. The Cowboys finished 12-4 in 1994, but missed the Super Bowl by losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, 38-28.

In 1995, Jones lured All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders away from San Francisco, and Dallas once again posted a 12-4 regular season record.

The Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 at Sun Devil Stadium in Super Bowl XXX for their fifth world championship. Switzer joined Johnson as the only coaches to win a college football National Championship and a Super Bowl.

Yet the glory days of the Cowboys were again beginning to dim as free agency, age and injuries began taking their toll. The Cowboys went 6-10 in 1997, with discipline and off-field problems becoming major distractions.

As a result, Switzer resigned as head coach in January 1998 and former Steelers offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was hired to take his place.

Gailey led the team to a 10-6 record in 1998 and an NFC East championship, but was let go after an 8-8 playoff season in 1999, becoming the first Cowboys coach who did not win a Super Bowl.

Nonetheless, the Cowboys posted more wins in the 1990s than any other NFL team.



Defensive coordinator Dave Campo was promoted to head coach, but he could only post three consecutive 5-11 seasons.

Many fans and media were beginning to blame Jerry Jones for the team's ills, noting that he refused to hire a strong coach or general manager, preferring to hire coaches who did not want to be involved with personnel duties so that Jones himself, as GM, could manage them.

Jones then lured Bill Parcells out of retirement to coach the Cowboys. The Cowboys became the surprise team of the 2003 season, posting a 10-6 record and a playoff berth by having the best overall defense in the NFL.

However, during the next two seasons, the Parcells-led Cowboys missed the playoffs. The Cowboys then finished an up-and-down 2006 season with a 9-7 record and a playoff appearance, but after a last second loss in the Wild Card Game against the Seattle Seahawks, Parcells retired and was succeeded by Wade Phillips.[11]

In his first season as head coach, Phillips and his coaching staff led the franchise to its best seasonal start ever, a conference-best 13-3 record, and the franchise's 16th NFC East championship title, the most of any team in that division. (Washington, New York and Philadelphia are tied for second with seven championships each.)[12]

The Cowboys were eliminated by the (eventual Super Bowl Champion) Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs, the first NFC #1 seed to so falter since the 1990 playoff re-alignment.*(taken from Wikipedia)

Now, those indicators tend to show, despite the criticisms levied against the owner and GM, Jerry Jones, his organization has continued to progress continually back to the top levels of successes in the NFL, on a basis of wins and losses. That is a strong indicator of team directions.

On the specific consideration of specific control of the team, Jerry showed the entire world that he was not afraid to give full controls to a strong figurehead. He did this when he lured Bill Parcells out of retirement to head his Cowboy organization.

Under the direct leadership, control, and player acquisition of Bill Parcells, the team gained strengths, yet lacked post-season successes as an organization.

This was an indicator that Jerry Jones alone was not the mediating factor in a lack of successes here.

Further, the Dallas franchises' greatest win season, 13-3, occurred under the leadership of Wade Phillips following the departure of Bill Parcells. The nucleus of that Parcells' lead team, the 13 All Pro players were not enough alone, to reach the desired results in the playoffs.

That team was beaten by a strongly motivated and talented Giant team that grew to be the strongest team in the field over the course of that Super Bowl push.

The failure of this team was not more to the lack of talent, leadership of it's head coach, or it's owner and GM, Jerry Jones-but more to the direct accomplishments of those same New York Giants.


The complete list of Coaches who have been at the head of the Dallas Cowboys is as follows:

Note: Statistics are correct as of the 2008 NFL season.

# Name Term Regular Season / Playoffs Achievements Reference
GC W L T Win% / GC W L Win%

Dallas Cowboys

1 Tom Landry* 1960–1988 418 250 162 6 .607 / 36 20 16 .556
AP Coach of the Year (1966)[6]
Sporting News Coach of the Year (1966)[6]
UPI NFL Coach of the Year (1966)[6]
UPI NFC Coach of the Year (1975)[6]
2 Super Bowl championships (1971, 1977)
5 NFC championships (1970, 1971, 1975, 1977, 1978) [7]

2 Jimmy Johnson 1989–1993 80 44 36 0 .550 / 8 7 1 .875
AP Coach of the Year (1990)[6]
UPI NFC Coach of the Year (1990)[6]
2 Super Bowl championships (1992, 1993) [8]

3 Barry Switzer 1994–1997 64 40 24 0 .625 / 7 5 2 .714
Super Bowl championship (1995) [9]

4 Chan Gailey 1998–1999 32 18 14 0 .563 / 2 0 2 .000 [10]

5 Dave Campo 2000–2002 48 15 33 0 .313 — — — — [11]

6 Bill Parcells 2003–2006 64 34 30 0 .531 / 2 0 2 .000 [12]

7 Wade Phillips 2007–present 32 22 10 0 .687 / 1 0 1 .000 [13]

Now, if one goes back to the Landry era, he will notice that even the greatest of Cowboy coaches didn't win a NFC Championship victory until year ten of his being at the helm.

What would this tell to a realistic person decrying the point that there has been ten years since the last Super Bowl period for his beloved Cowboys?

Aside from bemoaning the fact, it is a real indicator that Super Bowls don't grow on trees nor do they occur at an outrageously high rate even for the best of franchises...since the Cowboy organization is the second leading owner of Lombardi trophies.

Landry's Super Bowl victories occurred in years 11 and 17, respectively.

Now, in the era of Jerry Jones, he has accomplished three Lombardi trophies in a period of now twenty years. As to team victories, that has taken an upswing to recent years as well.

Continuing on the status of the Cowboys when compared to an All Time Power ranking, the Cowboys have still retained their top place as of 2008:


Page 2's ultimate NFL power rankings, Nos. 1-10
By Thomas Neumann

Updated: Sept. 17, 2008

Which franchise is king of the NFL?

This is what 32 teams set out to decide each year through a 16-game regular season and subsequent playoff tournament. even breaks down its NFL power rankings on a weekly basis.

But which franchise is the best in the NFL … period?

To answer that question, Page 2 created power rankings on steroids -- the ultimate power rankings. This study analyzes data since the AFL-NFL merger in the 1970 season through the 2007 season.

This starting point eliminates any question of competitive disparity between the NFL and its former rival leagues, the AFL and the AAFC.

Teams that joined the NFL after 1970 are admittedly at a disadvantage for scoring in some categories, but they have a consequent advantage in negative categories.

Additionally, regular-season winning percentage is weighted heavily to give these teams a fair appraisal.


1. Dallas Cowboys

Pct. SB Play. W ≥ 12W ≤ 4W All-Pro MNF CC CPD Busts Total
.594 5-3 26 10 2 56 69 6 2 1 1,498

The Cowboys might not be your team, but they are indeed America's Team.

Since the merger, no team has displayed as much consistent excellence across as wide a variety of criteria as Dallas.

During the NFL's modern era, the Cowboys lead the NFL in Super Bowl berths and playoff victories. No other team has won a Super Bowl under three different coaches.

The Cowboys have ranked in the top three in scoring 11 times and in scoring defense eight times since 1970, advancing to the NFC Championship Game an astonishing 14 times in that period.

Only Pittsburgh has had more first-team All-Pros. Only San Francisco has had more seasons of 12-plus wins. Only Miami has had more "Monday Night Football" appearances. How good are the Cowboys? So good that they won a Super Bowl with Barry Switzer as coach.

Certainly, the Cowboys have had their share of off-the-field issues. That's a case study for another day. What we'd really like to know is…how did these guys ever lose to the Lions and Cardinals in the playoffs?!

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pct. SB Play. W ≥ 12W ≤ 4W All-Pro MNF CC CPD Busts Total
.603 5-1 23 6 0 62 57 2 0 2 1,495

The Steelers narrowly missed out on bragging rights to the top spot. But before you blame Page 2, notice that Dallas was penalized with two "crushing" postseason defeats to Pittsburgh's zero.

Left off that list was the Steelers' loss to San Diego in the 1994 AFC Championship Game, which occurred days after some Pittsburgh players met with a choreographer to make plans for a music video for a Super Bowl rap song called "The Blitzburgh."

Embarrassing? Certainly. Crushing? Probably not.

So if you need to blame someone, we suggest Neil O'Donnell. Those two dubious interceptions to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX amount to a 50-point swing.

On the positive side, Pittsburgh has enjoyed the NFL's most stable coaching situation -- consider that the Steelers have employed as many head coaches since the merger (three) as the Falcons have in the past nine months.

Pittsburgh also leads the league in first-team All-Pros since 1970, with nine players being so honored at least five times. The Steelers have advanced to 13 AFC Championship Games, winning six.

*(this comparison was provided by ESPN)

Now, maybe a complete analysis of all of the regular and end of season results can yield a truly definable relationship:

Season Team League Conference Division Regular season Post-season Results Awards
Finish Wins Losses Ties
Dallas Cowboys
1960 1960 NFL Western 7th 0 11 1
1961 1961 NFL Eastern 6th 4 9 1
1962 1962 NFL Eastern 5th 5 8 1
1963 1963 NFL Eastern 5th 4 10 0
1964 1964 NFL Eastern 5th 5 8 1
1965 1965 NFL Eastern 2nd 7 7 0
1966 1966 NFL Eastern 1st 10 3 1 Lost NFL Championship Game (Packers) (34-27) Tom Landry (NFL COY)
1967[5] 1967 NFL Eastern Capitol 1st 9 5 0 Won Conference Playoffs (Browns) (52-10)
Lost NFL Championship Game (Packers) (21-17)
1968 1968 NFL Eastern Capitol 1st 12 2 0 Lost Conference Playoffs (Browns) (31-20)
1969 1969 NFL Eastern Capitol 1st 11 2 1 Lost Conference Playoffs (Browns) (38-14) Calvin Hill (Off. ROY)
George Andrie (Pro Bowl Def. MVP)
1970 1970 NFL NFC East 1st 10 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Lions) (5-0)
Won Conference Championship (49ers) (17-10)
Lost Super Bowl V (Colts) (16-13) Chuck Howley (SB MVP)
Mel Renfro (PB Def. MVP)
1971 1971 NFL NFC East 1st 11 3 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) (20-12)
Won Conference Championship (49ers) (14-3)
Won Super Bowl VI (1) (Dolphins) (24-3) Roger Staubach (SB MVP)
1972 1972 NFL NFC East 2nd 10 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (49ers) (30-28)
Lost Conference Championship (Redskins) (26-3)
1973 1973 NFL NFC East 1st[6] 10 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (L.A. Rams) (27-16)
Lost Conference Championship (Vikings) (27-10)
1974 1974 NFL NFC East 3rd 8 6 0
1975 1975 NFL NFC East 2nd 10 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) (17-14)
Won Conference Championship (L.A. Rams) (37-7)
Lost Super Bowl X (Steelers) (21-17) Tom Landry (NFC COY)
1976 1976 NFL NFC East 1st 11 3 0 Lost Divisional Playoffs (L.A. Rams) (14-12)
1977 1977 NFL NFC East 1st 12 2 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Bears) (37-7)
Won Conference Championship (Vikings) (23-6)
Won Super Bowl XII (2) (Broncos) (27-10) Tony Dorsett (Off. ROY)
Harvey Martin and Randy White (SB co-MVPs)
1978[7] 1978 NFL NFC East 1st[8] 12 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Falcons) (27-20)
Won Conference Championship (L.A. Rams) (28-0)
Lost Super Bowl XIII (Steelers (35-31)
1979 1979 NFL NFC East 1st[9] 11 5 0 Lost Divisional Playoffs (L.A. Rams) (21-19)

1980 1980 NFL NFC East 2nd[10] 12 4 0 Won Wild Card Playoffs (L.A. Rams) (34-17)
Won Divisional Playoffs (Falcons) (30-27)
Lost Conference Championship (Eagles) (20-7)
1981 1981 NFL NFC East 1st 12 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Buccaneers) (38-0)
Lost Conference Championship (49ers) (28-27)
1982[11] 1982 NFL NFC 2nd 6 3 0 Won First Round (Buccaneers) (30-17)
Won Second Round (Packers) (37-26)
Lost Conference Championship (Redskins) (31-17)
1983 1983 NFL NFC East 2nd 12 4 0 Lost Wild Card Playoffs (L.A. Rams) 24-17
1984 1984 NFL NFC East 4th 9 7 0
1985 1985 NFL NFC East 1st[12] 10 6 0 Lost Divisional Playoffs (L.A. Rams) (20-0)
1986 1986 NFL NFC East 3rd 7 9 0
1987[13] 1987 NFL NFC East 4th 7 8 0
1988 1988 NFL NFC East 5th 3 13 0
1989 1989 NFL NFC East 5th 1 15 0
1990 1990 NFL NFC East 4th 7 9 0 Emmitt Smith (Off. ROY)
Jimmy Johnson (NFL COY)
1991 1991 NFL NFC East 2nd[14] 11 5 0 Won Wild Card Playoffs (Bears) (17-13)
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Lions) (38-6) Michael Irvin, (Pro Bowl MVP)
1992 1992 NFL NFC East 1st 13 3 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Eagles) (34-10)
Won Conference Championship (49ers) (30-20)
Won Super Bowl XXVII (3) (Bills) (52-17) Troy Aikman (SB MVP)
1993 1993 NFL NFC East 1st 12 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Packers) (27-17)
Won Conference Championship (49ers) (38-21)
Won Super Bowl XXVIII (4) (Bills) (30-13) Emmitt Smith (SB MVP)
Emmitt Smith (NFL MVP)
1994 1994 NFL NFC East 1st 12 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Packers) (35-9)
Lost Conference Championship (49ers) (38-28)
1995 1995 NFL NFC East 1st 12 4 0 Won Divisional Playoffs (Eagles) (30-11)
Won Conference Championship (Packers) (38-27)
Won Super Bowl XXX (5) (Steelers) (27-17) Larry Brown (SB MVP)
1996 1996 NFL NFC East 1st[15] 10 6 0 Won Wild Card Playoffs (Vikings) (40-15)
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Panthers) (26-17)
1997 1997 NFL NFC East 4th 6 10 0
1998 1998 NFL NFC East 1st 10 6 0 Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Cardinals) (20-7)
1999 1999 NFL NFC East 2nd[16] 8 8 0 Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Vikings) (27-10)
2000 2000 NFL NFC East 4th 5 11 0
2001 2001 NFL NFC East 5th 5 11 0
2002 2002 NFL NFC East 4th 5 11 0
2003 2003 NFL NFC East 2nd 10 6 0 Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Panthers) (29-10)
2004 2004 NFL NFC East 3rd 6 10 0
2005 2005 NFL NFC East 3rd 9 7 0
2006 2006 NFL NFC East 2nd 9 7 0 Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Seahawks) (21-20)
2007 2007 NFL NFC East 1st 13 3 0 Lost Divisional Playoffs (Giants) (21-17) Greg Ellis (CBPOY)
2008 2008 NFL NFC East 3rd 9 7 0

Total 432 316 6 All-time regular season record (1960–2008)
32 24 All-time postseason record (1960–2008)
464 340 6 All-time regular season and postseason record (1960–2008)
5 NFL Championships, 10 Conference Championships, 19 Divisional Championships

Except for 2000-2002, when Dallas was coming out of the period of the "Triplets," and the team finished at the bottom of the NFC East just above the Cardinals, the Cowboys have returned to being completely competitive within the NFC East which consistently has a direct correlation with strength of playoff opportunity and even playoff success.

Maybe the relationship within that division is proving more of an indicator than a misdirected approach negatively directed towards Jerry Jones.

It appears that the franchise has not been tarnished as to product on the field, even while under the ownership of Jerry Jones.

Maybe one would like to seek some association with the coaching and support staff themselves:

Current Dallas Cowboys staff

Front Office
Owner/President/General Manager – Jerry Jones
Executive Vice President/COO – Stephen Jones
Director of College and Pro Scouting – Tom Ciskowski
Assistant Director of Pro Scouting – Judd Garrett

Head Coaches
Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator – Wade Phillips
Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator – Jason Garrett

*(if one notices, there is already a special relationship right here. There is a head coach, but closely followed by an Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator as well) They as a pair are the dynamics at the top of the coaching staff for this Dallas Cowboy team.

Offensive Coaches
Quarterbacks – Wade Wilson
Running Backs – Skip Peete
Wide Receivers – Ray Sherman
Tight Ends – John Garrett
Offensive Line – Hudson Houck
Offensive Assistant/Quality Control – Wesley Phillips

Defensive Coaches
Defensive Line – Todd Grantham
Linebackers – Reggie Herring
Assistant Linebackers/Defensive Quality Control – Dat Nguyen
Secondary – Dave Campo
Secondary – Brett Maxie

Special Teams Coaches
Special Teams – Joe DeCamillis

Strength and Conditioning
Strength and Conditioning – Joe Juraszek

Here is the coaching description of Wade Phillips in the professional ranks:

NFL coaching

Phillips began his professional coaching career in Houston as the linebackers coach in 1976 for the team coached by his father, as well as defensive line coach in 1977–1980.

He remained on his father's staff as the pair headed for New Orleans. Bum stepped down as head coach of a struggling Saints team in late 1985, and Wade stepped in as interim head coach.

He spent the next three years as the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles and then four more in the same position for the Denver Broncos.

Phillips replaced Dan Reeves as head coach for the Broncos in 1993, but was fired after a mediocre 1994 season in which management felt he lost control of the team.

The most successful coaching stop for Phillips was at Buffalo. He always kept the team competitive and in the playoff hunt. A loss to the Titans in the 1999 playoffs haunted Phillips for the rest of his time at Buffalo.

In this same season, he caused a controversy when he inserted Rob Johnson as starting quarterback at the last game of the season, after Doug Flutie was the starter the whole year and led the team to the playoffs.

He has the distinction of having been replaced by a father and a son from two head coaching positions, by Jim Mora at the New Orleans Saints and by Jim Mora Jr. at the Atlanta Falcons. He also has twice replaced Dan Reeves as a head coach.

On Feb. 8, 2007, he was named the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, replacing the retired Bill Parcells.

He was chosen after Jerry Jones interviewed 10 potential replacements, including former Cowboys and former San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner, former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and former Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett.

In the 2007 NFL Playoffs he led the Cowboys to another playoff loss, making his playoff record 0–4. The Cowboys failed to make the playoffs in 2008. The season ended with a 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, preventing a wildcard playoff berth.

Prior to the 2009 season, Phillips also took over as defensive coordinator, replacing the fired Brian Stewart. Phillips called defensive plays for the final 10 games of the 2008 season after Stewart was stripped of the responsibilities.

The strength of Wade Phillips is the defensive side of the ball. Many good teams have functioned quite well with a head coach that dominates on one side of the ball.

Wade has previously coached both defensive line and linebackers at the professional levels, and had strong groups at both positional groups. His periods as a defensive coordinator were usually marked by very strong as well as productive defenses.

He was effective at almost everywhere he was in this capacity. In Dallas, he is assisted in the secondary, by yet another very strong coach, in the person of Dave Campo. Campo himself, has many years as a Defensive Coordinator and even as head coach, so he knows well how to integrate a group of players into an efficient system.

He also has a very demonstrated ability and success with the secondary itself. The success of the young corners is an immediate indicator of his continued effectiveness there.

What he is not, is a magician.

If he only has the talent of practice squad players, then that stings all the way through the defensive alignments.

That stated, the coaches on the defensive side of the ball aren't the problems of failure.


Next, a look at the offensive side of ball...Jason Garrett:

Professional career

He signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 1989 and 1990. In 1991 Garrett started at quarterback for the San Antonio Riders of the World League of American Football, but suffered a separated shoulder in the season opener. He rebounded the following year to lead San Antonio to a 7-3 record. In 1992, Garrett also played for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League.

In 1993, Garrett went to the Dallas Cowboys, where he was a backup to Troy Aikman on the 1993 and 1995 Super Bowl winning teams. In eight seasons with the Cowboys, Garrett played in 39 games and completed 165 of 294 passes (56.1%) for 2,042 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions.

The highlight of his career with the Cowboys occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 1994, when Garrett, starting in place of an injured Troy Aikman, led the Cowboys over the Green Bay Packers by completing 15 of 26 passes for 311 yards and 2 touchdowns in a second-half comeback.

In 2008, the game was named the fourth-best moment in the history of Texas Stadium by ESPN.[3]

In 2000, he went to the New York Giants, where he appeared sparingly as the backup to Kerry Collins from 2000–2003. In 2004, after a short stint as a backup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he went to the Miami Dolphins.

Coaching career

After retiring as a player, he became the quarterback coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2005–2006 and then, in January 2007, he was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as offensive coordinator.

His influence made the Cowboys the second best offense in the NFL making him an attractive head coaching prospect. Despite persistent offers from the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons, Garrett refused head coaching jobs and opted to remain in Dallas.

His salary in the 2008 season will be close to $3 million and will be the highest paid assistant coach in the NFL. With Garrett staying, some expect him to succeed Wade Phillips as the head coach of the Cowboys, though there is nothing within his contract to suggest this.

On Dec. 29, 2008, the Detroit Lions received permission to speak to Garrett regarding the teams head coaching vacancy according to ESPN sources. The Denver Broncos interviewed him in January 2009 as a possible replacement for recently fired coach Mike Shanahan.

He was also a finalist for the St. Louis Rams head coaching position, to replace Jim Haslett, the interim head coach.

Ultimately, he lost the job to Steve Spagnuolo after appearing a lock to become their next head coach. When word leaked that Garrett was flying to meet with the Rams, fans flooded the ticket office with angry calls.

Jason has had success as a coach, and has extensive experience as a player before that. He is very well grounded on all phases and possible views from a variety of sources on the offensive side of ball. He is a real talent and viewed by the league as such.

Despite his talents, just as all other coaches, he will be directly tied to the product on the field. If injuries crash a very talented offensive unit for a second year, then he well could become another coaching casualty, as could Wade Phillips.

This fact of life in the NFL, does not change their very high pedigrees and abilities on each's respective side of the ball. The supporting coaches for both sides of the ball are as strong also.

This group, make no mistake, does have the potential to lead a very efficient team to any kind of post-season success.

They aren't a point of failure by their own strengths any consideration. Any failures will not rest upon their abilities individually or a group.


Perhaps there was leakage in how the quality of Hall of Famers that would indicate a direct link between Jerry Jones and failure of the franchise...well, here's the record of all Hall of Famers from the Cowboys:

Pro Football Hall of Famers
Troy Aikman: Class of 2006 (QB 1989–2000)
Tony Dorsett: Class of 1994 (RB 1977–87)
Michael Irvin: Class of 2007 (WR 1988–1999)
Tom Landry: Class of 1990 (Head Coach 1960–88)
Bob Lilly: Class of 1980 (DT 1961–74)
Mel Renfro: Class of 1996 (S/CB 1964–77)
Tex Schramm: Class of 1991 (Pres/GM 1960–89)
Roger Staubach: Class of 1985 (QB 1969–79)
Randy White: Class of 1994 (DT 1975–88)
Rayfield Wright: Class of 2006 (OT 1967–1979)
Bob Hayes: Class of 2009 (WR 1965–1975)

There, except for the entrance of Bob Lilly and Roger Staubach, all of the rest of the Hall of Famers entered during the ownership of Jerry Jones. Maybe the image of the whole Cowboy organization hasn't been tarnished beyond recognition as well!


Now, here is the current roster for the Dallas Cowboys:

5 Rudy Carpenter
3 Jon Kitna
7 Stephen McGee
9 Tony Romo

Running Backs
34 Deon Anderson FB
24 Marion Barber
23 Tashard Choice
30 Alonzo Coleman
39 Julius Crosslin FB
28 Felix Jones
35 Keon Lattimore
45 Asaph Schwapp FB

Wide Receivers
19 Miles Austin
84 Patrick Crayton
83 Julian Hawkins
17 Sam Hurd
87 Manuel Johnson
85 Kevin Ogletree
86 Isaiah Stanback
11 Roy E. Williams
10 Travis Wilson

Tight Ends
80 Martellus Bennett
44 Rodney Hannah
49 Jamar Hunt
89 John Phillips
82 Jason Witten

Offensive Linemen
76 Flozell Adams T
79 Robert Brewster T
60 Travis Bright G
75 Marc Colombo T
70 Leonard Davis G
68 Doug Free T
62 Ryan Gibbons G/T
65 Andre Gurode C
64 Montrae Holland G
61 Greg Isdaner G
63 Kyle Kosier G
77 Pat McQuistan T
71 Cory Procter G/C
69 Matt Spanos G/C
66 Mike Turkovich G

Defensive Linemen
95 Tim Anderson NT
72 Stephen Bowen DE
92 Marcus Dixon DE
97 Jason Hatcher DE
99 Igor Olshansky DE
90 Jay Ratliff NT
78 Junior Siavii NT
96 Marcus Spears DE
67 Casey Tyler NT

51 Keith Brooking ILB
57 Victor Butler OLB
54 Bobby Carpenter ILB
98 Greg Ellis OLB
55 Stephen Hodge ILB
56 Bradie James ILB
53 Steve Octavien OLB
50 Justin Rogers OLB/ILB
93 Anthony Spencer OLB
52 Matt Stewart ILB
94 DeMarcus Ware OLB
59 Brandon Williams OLB
58 Jason Williams ILB

Defensive Backs
20 Alan Ball CB
35 Tra Battle SS
27 Courtney Brown FS
42 Jerome Carter SS
26 Ken Hamlin FS
36 Michael Hamlin SS
37 Mike Hawkins CB
21 Mike Jenkins CB
33 Mike Mickens CB
41 Terence Newman CB
32 Orlando Scandrick CB
43 Gerald Sensabaugh SS
31 DeAngelo Smith FS
25 Pat Watkins SS

Special Teams
18 David Buehler K
6 Nick Folk K
91 L. P. Ladouceur LS
1 Mat McBriar P

81 Active, 0 Inactive

Next, let's look at who departed from the Cowboys this year:

Terrell Owens
Kevin Burnett
Chris Canty
Anthony Henry
Zach Thomas
Roy Williams
"Killer" Davis
Adam Jones
"Tank" Johnson
Joe Berger
Brad Johnson

From that list are 'seven' starter types, and four backups in quality. Three of the 'starters' were in the secondary. Although the starters across the board, were of a professional quality, I don't think anyone will miss the deletion of those four in the secondary from this year's team.

Anthony Henry was on the borderline of being starting quality on this very Cowboy team. Replacing the secondary play of Roy Williams and Davis is nothing less than an upgrade in on the field play here.

At the conclusion of last season, the weakness of this very same safety group is what put the team continually at risk through the whole month of December.

Ken Hamlin could not focus on a favorable area while in his "quarterback" role. This affected his play as well.

With the addition of Sensabaugh, who is much better in coverage than was Roy Williams over the past three seasons, the whole secondary puts on a difference face.

The two 'rook' cornerbacks of last year, Michael Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick, present a very aggressive, as well as mobile, change at cornerback.

They take some of the emergency out of the role of Terrence Newman. Not pressed nearly as badly as in previous years due to lack of talent and injuries, Newman should be much more at ease in his dominant role now. His game should move a little more forward in aggressiveness and effectiveness as well.

If Mickens and Ball meet current expectations, the corners will be a very a very aggressive, young, and fast group with real coverage skills this year.

This whole group will be without baggage of a centerpiece who was a sneeze away from constant turmoil...even more than those presented on the offensive side of ball. Something that wasn't addressed much this off season as well.

The group at safety is assuming a completely different picture from that of last season. This group is changing and we shall have to await somewhat, on what that part of the secondary in actuality proves out to be. I have my thoughts here...although.

The Cowboys made a decision to go stronger towards strong pass defenders than another linebacker type in the box area. The strength of Sensabaugh is very similar to that of Ken Hamlin when he joined the Cowboys. I think that Sensabaugh is every inch the defender that Hamlin was when he inked up with Dallas.

A solid season by him, and this secondary is off and running and growing in ability to interact. This will be a trying season in some respects, as they have to forge a common ground, but this is both a youthful but strong skilled secondary now.

It has grown in depth and ability to produce accountability both before and after a ball gets to a receiver. That will be a benefit of more of a team element to play in this secondary.

This group should renew a sense of 'layer' to the defensive side of the ball. That will increase the ability to slow down opponent's movements of the ball. Dallas should be getting stingier to move the ball upon this season. I see that as a big plus to the team.

Next on the defensive side, is the consideration of the linebacker group. Here, youth will be served sooner than later.

When this occurs, you have very aggressive play and some mental lapses, but that will be kept to a minimum with Keith Brooking and Greg Ellis both on the roster for this season.

I'm not so worried about the loss of Kevin Burnett. He was a good fit in the packages phase of the defense, but his skillset can be reproduced with a combination of players.

Bobby Carpenter has the skillset already, believe that one or not, to fit right into a role of running and moving laterally.

This is the real key to a package linebacker in the middle. Bobby Carpenter really should fill the bill here. That is, unless one of the two linebackers in this draft-Jason Williams or Steven Hodge doesn't sneak up and claim it after adjustments.

These two rookies have a lot of speed and coverage athleticism that could be focused in this capacity from the start. I feel confident that the requirement for effective coverage by the middle linebacker in packages will be filled by the mix on the roster at present.

I think that the blend of Ellis and Anthony Spencer will get very good mileage this season. I really don't like the second burner view that Spencer has been receiving by some of the media and fans alike. This is his coming out party in a Cowboy way of progression.

Although, I wouldn't discount the ability of Greg Ellis to reach his double digit mark one more time. I think pressure is the tune of direction for this team. The two added 'rook's-Victor Butler and Brandon Williams were selected for this very reason.

Now, there are four 'rooks' with three foreseeable slots there for the taking. That means that all will be on the line for all the participants in camp this year.

That said, there should be real directed activity towards getting the pressure on opposing quarterbacks and keeping it there. Someone should drop out of this group, whether it is a 'rook' going to the practice squad.

This will prove out under the watchful eyes of this Cowboy coaching staff who already know talents and expectation for directions that have to be proven out.

Coaches already have the mental set to take this group of players forward...well forward into a New Stadium as well.

This is part of what has been evolving this off season. The redefining of workable parameters of expectation, commitment, coaching enforcement, team directed goals, and additionally dedicated and socially supportive teammates.

The team has been highly involved in character development, changed to team acceptable goals and performances. The whole mood of Valley Ranch has changed in the process.

An "all me" and smothering player such as TO is no more. A criminally challenging as well as attitudianl nightmare such as Adam Jones or even a cantakerous player such as Tank Johnson are no more.

A self limiting yet undeniably unrewarding player such as Roy Williams has moved on. In their place as come commitment, determination, and a team PRIDE. That's COWBOY PRIDE to those who have forgotten the words!!

Now, a fan can cry and bemoan all the complications, implications, and derivations all negative if he wants to...yea, that's his prerogative. But, if you ask me, this boils down to three basic ingredients.

The first of which is on the offensive side of the ball. Where the early successes of a Jerry Jones directed team involved the "Triplets," this version of the Cowboys has the same 'Triplet' concept updated for the demands of this era's NFL.

There is a group of running backs that averaged a whopping 4.5 yards a carry last season. This on top of Marion Barber and Felix Jones being out for expansive periods of last season.

When the team under the direction of Jason Garrett, starts to use that fact, then a multitude of other events will happen as well.

Then, there is the "Golden Boy," Tony Romo. He eerily resembles Roger Staubach to within a single stat point or another to the exact point that Roger was when he arrived and started his career with Dallas. That is high cotton, to you Texas Boys.

He will bring that same gamesmanship to this year's season, now that his focus target is no longer demanding half of his focused time for success. The ball will be moving around. It will then be going to the group that now is the receiver portion of this newer version of the "Triplets."

With the individual strengths and variety that this group retains, it will become much hard for defenses to have to defense and recognize the same abilities that existed with a single TO on field, since those same qualities will be there only in the form of a group of players that can match every single ability contained in TO.

If you hadn't noticed there, was that TO had started to drop many more balls, get caught up on the line of scrimmage much more frequently, and not change any more but a few games in actuality.

The Cowboys now have that same player, but in a multitude of shapes and view which makes it much harder to see and pick up as such.

Tom Landry's principal of confusing the opponent is get amplified about ten times and being let out onto the field this season.

It may take some time, as with the original Landry format, and the first arrival of the "Triplets," but rest assured, THEY'RE HERE!

I've already touched upon the defensive and offensive parts of this picture. The other definable change comes in special teams play.

First, a very effective special team's coach is recovering from his dramatic injuries as we discuss this now. He is the echo of change going to hit the field for our Cowboys. This draft was not all directed towards special team's play as some would have you think.

That stated, it did incorpoate fresh legs and young aggressive attitudes that will be leaders on these teams. The speed and talent of these new additions will be seen from the very start.

Why did the team draft a kicker? We all know now. The very fine place kicker from last season, Nick Fok just had hip surgery. Not only to protect the team's interest in a top notched kicker, but to add to covereage effectiveness the Cowboys drafted a very talent player-David Buehler.

This was a case of attention to minute details and not a case of asleep at the wheel by the talent evaluators on this draft.

They were challenged and brought that aspect to the carpet in what other teams will feel from this very group: challenged!

The strength of the defense, offense, and special teams are not improved from that of last season, even if at it's onset, there were 13 All Pro Players on its roster.

Lastly, I will mention the free agent additions to this Cowboy team. From them will be expected leadership, further direction, and quality of performance on a steady basis.

The players on this list include:

QB Jon Kitna
MLB Keith Brooking
SS Gerald Sensabaugh
DE Igor Oshansky

Did someone say EEEEEEEEGOR?

Now, if I have to explain this group to you, you haven't been paying ANY attention to this very long and directed I won't even try.

Now, How about them COWBOYS?

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