As a Jersey City native, the craziness that is Super Bowl XLVIII is all around me. On Friday, I got to see the Lombardi trophy – today, the Broncos and Seahawks arrived at their hotels downtown (effectively shutting down half the city) – and on Tuesday, my girlfriend and I will take curling lessons at an impromptu rink in Hoboken (yes, curling as a promotion for the Super Bowl, not the Olympics, seriously). All of this without even crossing the river!
This bout of shameless promotion which I so happily embrace has got me thinking: do we have a chance? The Dallas Cowboys - the team I have always loved and believed in - can they get to the Super Bowl in the near future?
To figure this out, I took a look at our most recent SB appearance (XXX in 1996) and tried to assess major similarities and differences. Here is what I found:
Intimidating Offensive Weapons
I know I’m not the only fan reminded of Jay Novices when Jason Witten catches the ball, and runs hard as anybody in the league. And tell me you don’t get chills when Dez Bryant leaps up – #88 in mid-air – to make a spectacular catch. Hell, sometimes he even looks like a young Michael Irvin. The current Cowboys offense may not sync up so well as they did in the mid ’90s, but the weapons are eerily similar. You could even make an argument for the aggressive running style of DeMarco Murray as a tribute to Emmitt Smith.
A Pretty Good Offensive Line
The 2014 Cowboys do not have the best offensive line in football, but it’s pretty good.
Most importantly, it’s got one, maybe two anchors in Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. This is a lot like the 1996 Dallas offensive line, anchored around would-be Hall of Famer Larry Allen. The o-lines of ’96 and ’14 are proof that one or two hard-working leaders can inspire a whole unit.
A strong, regimented Coach
Barry Switzer was no Jimmy Johnson, but Jason Garrett is no Barry Switzer. If there’s one thing that’s been consistent with the success of the Dallas Cowboys throughout the franchise’s history, it’s that regimented coaching leads to winning big games. Garrett has done a lot of good for the team, but he hasn’t yet shown to be the hard-nosed leader many players secretly crave.
A productive Defense
Anyone who knows anything about football can tell that the current defense is not as good as the “Doomsday II” unit of the mid ’90s. What makes this an interesting comparison, though, is the way that the personnel seems to match up across decades. Hall of Famer #94 Charles Haley led the defense, and this generation has a #94 of its own – DeMarcus Ware. MLB Robert Jones was a rookie sensation, known especially for his pass coverage skills – who’s that remind you of?
So, what’s the difference? These guys don’t perform like the legends who came before them. The hype is there, but the consistency is not. Remember all the Deion comparisons when Mo Claiborne was drafted?