Usually, I write extremely pessimistic outlooks on the Dallas Cowboys’ future. Usually, I write about their poor offensive line or their overpriced veterans that decimate the team’s finances. Today, however, is not a usual day. I intend to focus on the few things the team does right. The collapse of last year’s team has left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, but the Cowboys are not the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Dallas Cowboys, unlike their hopeless NFL stepbrother, actually have things they do that are actually above average. The fact that “above average” was the best verb I could come up with should be concerning for a team with playoff aspirations, but certain teams haven’t been able to use the expression with their teams since the early 2000’s.
Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) scrambles against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
1. The Dallas Cowboys Have an Above Average Quarterback:
The Cowboys pay Tony Romo like an elite one. For many teams he is one. Dallas Cowboys fans have been spoiled by unusually good quarterbacking during the franchise’s history. Of the most famous Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks, all but Craig Morton have gone to a Pro-bowl or have been an All-Pro. The Denver Broncos seem to me like they are an above average team. Not just this year, but in their whole history. They have one less Pro-Bowl quarterback, but while the Cowboys have 20 total Pro-Bowls among them, the Broncos have just 11-nine from one quarterback.
The point of that quick trivia-fest was to point out how well we Cowboys fans have it. Overall, we have had some of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game march into Texas (now Cowboys) Stadium and dominate the field. That also makes us unbelievable spoiled when it comes to criticizing quarterbacks. Tony Romo had a top 10 quarterback rating and placed third in yards per game. While the reason he lead the latter statistic was due partially to his terrible running game, the fact is he put up almost 5000 yards and, save for two games, did a good job of protecting the football. ESPN’s QBR paints a slightly less rosy picture, one in which he places 13th in average QBR, but he also had poor offensive line and no run game. The Browns, Chiefs, Raiders, Jaguars, Eagles, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jets, and Bills would all kill to have a quarterback of his caliber. The Rams (maybe), Bucs (maybe), Bears (maybe), and (maybe) Chargers would too, if their current cap-situation wouldn’t prevent a trade from occurring. For the Vikings, they don’t really need an good quarterback, so a young, okay, cheap quarterback like Christian Ponder will do. Still, Tony Romo would be an upgrade for them too. If he was transplanted on the Ravens, Bengals, Giants, or Lions he would probably be a lateral move.
(Note: I am in no way saying he is as good, just that if he was in the same situation he brings a similar result. While that sounds like the same thing, a strong offensive line, good receiving core and a good defense will allow just about any quarterback to win 10 or 11 games. Look at Matt Cassel. While Tony Romo might not put up as flashy statistics, he would probably win 9 games if on the Giants or maybe even 7 on the Lions due to his elusiveness. He might be a worse quarterback for those teams overall, but he is still good enough that he likely would not hurt their record.)
On February 11th, 2013, Tony Romo is better than Andrew Luck or Cam Newton. Next year, the previous sentence doesn’t apply, but this year it does. That leaves six teams. ( Not seven because I’m not sure whether Russel Wilson is equally good or better. I’m inclined to say the latter, but Seattle was such an odd case I can’t say for certain.) Overall, he is, practically speaking, worse than six quarterbacks, a lateral move for four others and an upgrade for the rest. That seems like a quarterback to be proud of to me.
Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs after a catch for a touchdown against New Orleans Saints safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (42) and Rafael Bush (25) in the fourth quarter at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
2. The Dallas Cowboys Nail Their First Round Draft Choices.
Since 2000, the Cowboys have only had one first round bust. I won’t even say his name. Drafting him at 18 when six of the next ten picks became Pro-Bowlers sickens me so much I never intend to. The Dallas Cowboys, despite their struggles in the mid-rounds, really do well in the first round. In the time span, they have four Pro-Bowlers and the previous three (Bryant, Smith and Claiborne) all look like they are headed that way too. The others are Roy Williams (Pro-Bowler even though he was only that good for maybe two years), Terrence Newman (good cornerback for a very long time), an everyday defensive end (Marcus Spears), Anthony Spencer, Mike Jenkins and Felix Jones. The last member isn’t as good as the rest, but he was still serviceable for a while. His production was more in line with what is expected of a third round pick, but he still contributed for his first two years, so he isn’t a complete bust. Just a slightly more that mild disappointment.
Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin (19) runs after a catch against Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark (25) at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
3. The Dallas Cowboys Nail Their Undrafted Free Agents
The 2012 Dallas Cowboys had five starters from either the seventh round or undrafted ranks:Tony Romo, Jay Ratliff, Miles Austin, Phil Costa and Dan Bailey. The first three have mad Pro-Bowls and the last is a top 5 kicker. The last part is simply my opinion, but he makes 90% of his kicks and makes virtually every clutch kick his coach doesn’t sabotage. Phil Costa isn’t very good, but he is at least somewhat versatile. For an undrafted free agent, that is perfectly acceptable. Football WAR doesn’t exist (at least that I know of), but if it did I would bet money that the Cowboys have gotten the most WAR out of undrafted free agents in the last five years than anyone else. That’s something they truly have going for them.
While there are many things the Dallas Cowboys have not done very well in the last decade or so, there are at least 3 things that they have done fairly well at. Whether or not these positives are sufficient to give Dallas Cowboys fans hope for the future is up to you to decide.