Tonight the Ravens travel to Dallas to play preseason football against the Cowboys. The last time the Ravens were in Dallas was the last game in the old Cowboys Stadium. A night that was supposed to be a big party was ruined by the Ravens. That night it was clear that the Ravens and Cowboys are completely opposite organizations. This truth is even more clear today.
The Dallas Cowboys are “America’s team”, a self appointed title that unfortunately stuck around. Despite only winning one playoff game since 1997 and being infamously average, the Cowboys are talked about as the big story no matter what. They have high expectations every year that they fail to meet.
The Cowboys are a media sensation and a world recognized brand. Wins and losses must not matter when you have the biggest stadium, the richest history and the most recognizable and profitable logo. This past season the Green Bay Packers handed Jerry Jones’s Cowboys an embarrassing loss; it was the largest comeback ever against the Cowboys. Jones gave one of his most infamously troubling responses calling the game great entertainment. This reinforced my belief that winning does not matter to Jones.
The national media is much less infatuated with the Baltimore Ravens, who take on the bad guy role every Sunday. The media goes out of its way not to talk about Baltimore. When the Ravens upset the Broncos in the 2012 playoffs, Sportscenter talked about why Denver lost not how the Ravens won. This is just one example of the lack of respect shown for the Ravens on a national level.
The Ravens get so much less attention but have had so much more success than the Cowboys. The Ravens story began in 1996 and since they have 9 playoff appearances and 2 Super Bowl championships. Since 1997 only the New England Patriots have won more postseason games (19) than the Ravens (14). “America’s team has just won one playoff game in this time period.
There is a reason for the Ravens being so much more successful than the Cowboys. The Ravens have great ownership. Steve Bisciotti is involved, but he is not meddlesome. He employs quality football people like Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh, and he trusts them to do their job. Its not all about Steve Bisciotti, its about the franchise and Baltimore. This is something that is shown in action.
I mean no disrespect to the Cowboys faithful. Most of you can acknowledge that Jerry Jones is a bad owner and the problem. The Cowboys have such an incredible history. It is an organization that produced many of the legends of the game. So I am not really attacking the fans or really a majority of the Cowboys organization. It all starts at the top, with Jerry Jones and sadly it rolls down hill. In contrast,at the top and all the way down the Ravens are the model of how to be in professional sports. For all the glitz and glamour of Jerry World, Baltimore has 100% more substance. Its that simple.
To some the Dallas Cowboys are America’s team but I can’t call them that with a straight face. Jerry Jones and company are not afraid to boast about the allure of the Cowboys despite being consistently mediocre. Today as we take a look at the once prestigious organization, brutal honesty is the only acceptable approach.
We will start by examining the Cowboys defense. Last season Dallas defense was horrible. They gave up yards through the air as if the offenses were playing against air. Stopping the run consistently was not in the cards for the ‘Boys.
It does not look like it will be better in 2014. Their best player Sean Lee tore his ACL and could miss the entire season. Lee was one of the few bright spots on the defense and fit perfectly in Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 defense. Right now their replacement is their fourth round draft pick Anthony Hitchens. I have heard rumors via various Twitter accounts that the Cowboys are considering bringing Brian Urlacher out of retirement. I did think Urlacher got a bad deal in Chicago but he is a year removed from the game. The bounty-gate tainted Jonathan Vilma is another option but both moves would reek of desperation.
Dallas promoted Rod Marinelli from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator. Instead of firing Monte Kiffin they gave him the title of assistant head coach. They fired Rob Ryan for having the 19th ranked defense a year earlier. I guess when you have the worst defense in team history they just switch a job title or two. This is just another example of the dysfunction that stems from Jerry Jones’s ownership. Last season they took away play-calling duties from head coach, Jason Garrett. Now I’m left scratching my head about what their head coach actually does. He was supposed to be a genius play-caller but he’s not. He manages games poorly and cannot seem to find the pulse of his team. The only reason Garrett is employed is that he is a Jerry Jones yes man. When Dallas took away the play-calling from Garrett, they took all credibility away from him as their head coach.
This brings me to the offense. Talent is not the problem-its just not. Sure Tony Romo is a turnover slot machine (work him a bit and you get the turnover jackpot) but he is talented. If he had a coach that reigned in some of his silliness he could be a good quarterback. Romo covers up a lot of bad in the Cowboys- he almost makes them legitimate. In fact inside the first three quarters he can be great. You can always count on Romo to implode late in the fourth quarter however. Most of that could be avoided by legitimate coaching.
The Cowboys have no idea what to do. A great example of all their problems was in their 37-36 loss to the Green Bay Packers this past season. Dallas had a 26-3 lead at the half and led until the final minutes of the game. Instead of running out the clock with Demarco Murray they kept passing. Murray with only 18 rushing attempts in the entire game was averaging 7.4 yards a carry and was well over the 100 yard mark. Literally all Dallas had to do was run the ball to win the game. Of course Romo kept passing and of course he started throwing interceptions. Dallas allowed Green Bay to record the largest comeback ever against the Dallas Cowboys. Embarrassingly it was MATT FLYNN not Aaron Rodgers quarterbacking the Pack. The most embarrassing part of the debacle, however was that Jerry Jones called it “Great entertainment.”
The Cowboys have won 1 playoff game since 1996. They have gone 8-8 for three seasons in a row. The year before that they were 6-10. They are mediocre. Thats the way they like it in that behemoth stadium. As long as the Cowboys star is the most marketable logo in professional sports, Jerry Jones could care less about the results. He can’t possibly care. No ego, no matter how big can remain inflated through this much failure. Jones cares more about the brand than he dies the team, and consistent mediocrity is the result.
Something happened last year in the NFC East that had not since 1999. The Washington Redskins became relevant. After being 3-6 and all but done for the season, the fans and even Coach Mike Shanahan gave up. Luckily, RGIII did not give up. He exploded onto the scene last year propelling the Redskins to a 7 game winning streak to end the season which ultimately allowed them to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. This year in the NFC East things will most likely not change too much.
Let’s start things off with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have a lot of work to do. Quarterback wise Michael Vick seems to be ideal for Chip Kelly’s new system as he is a dual threat QB, but the last two years he has had trouble with protecting the football. The offensive line did get a little better as the Eagles spent their first round pick on OL Lane Johnson. That being said they still have a ways to go. As far as the defense is concerned, to put it lightly, they were bad. Fortunately, the Eagles did have a pretty decent offseason as they were able to pick up two solid cornerbacks in Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher as well as underrated safety Kenny Philips. It is difficult to predict what is to come of the Eagles this year. All of it will hinge on how effective Chip Kelly’s new offense can be and the quarterback play. Learning a new offense especially one as complex as Chip Kelly’s will take some time for everyone to get used to and we will likely see inconsistent play throughout the season. I predict a last place finish for the Eagles and a 7-9 record.
Next, the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys on paper usually have the best team, but for one reason or another they never amount too much or as Stephen A. Smith says, “They are an accident waiting to happen.” Because of their salary cap situation being up tight they could not make many moves, but Jerry Jones and the boys did get CB Brandon Carr to bolster the secondary as well as many offensive players in the draft. Sean Lee will also be back from injury and do not underestimate B.W. Webb the rookie cornerback out of William & Mary. He always seems to be around the ball, he knows what to do when he has it, and he can return punts as well as kicks if Dez Bryant is injured. The problem with them is they still have many needs such as on the O-line and D-line. Although they did make the right move in signing Romo long-term it does not appear he will lead them to a Super Bowl. That being said when you have a good quarterback you need to sign them as they are hard to find and Tony Romo is still a good QB. Overall, the Cowboys still have talent, but as usual, I believe America’s team will underachieve with a third straight season at 8-8 which will land them at third place in the NFC East missing the playoffs once again.
Third, the New York Football Giants. The Giants were very streaky last year starting out 6-2 but finishing 3-5 down the stretch and just narrowly missing the playoffs. They did sign a few players most notably interior linemen Cullen Jenkins from the Eagles who is a great run stopper. The Giants also got Ryan Nassib from the draft which is smart as Eli is not getting any younger and was not great last year. Interceptions have been a problem for most of Eli’s career which is why outside the playoffs I do not trust him and I believe he is overrated. The main problem with the Giants, however, is that they did nothing to improve the secondary which did not perform well. Corey Webster got burned way too much and everyone else in the secondary cannot stay healthy. Even in a mediocre division I do not see the Giants making the playoffs. They do not match up well with the passing attacks around the league especially that of Dallas and Washington. I predict a 9-7 record from them and a second place finish in the NFC East.
Last but not least, the Washington Redskins. As you can guess they are in my opinion the best team in the NFC East and I believe they will grab the 4 seed in the playoffs with an 11-5 record. RGIII when healthy or even when injured was the best player on the field. He has world-class speed, good decision-making, and a strong, accurate arm. All of this combined makes it almost impossible for opposing defenses to defend. Combine this with a decent offensive line, a great running back in Alfred Morris, and a good receiving core the Redskins will be fine on offense.
What they will need to improve is the defense particularly the secondary. Their front seven will be fine assuming Brian Orakpo can come back healthy. Now the secondary… Last year, if not for the New Orleans Saints secondary the Redskins secondary would have been historically bad. That being said help is on the way. Brandon Merriweather is a competent safety if healthy and that is a big “if.” The Redskins also got help in the draft. In the 2013 draft they got three DBs, two safeties and a corner named David Amerson, Bacarri Rambo, and Phillip Thomas. Amerson lead NCAA in interceptions two years ago and Rambo was 2nd behind him. Thomas lead the NCAA in picks last year. It is evident the skins have addressed their needs in the secondary with young talented “ball-hawk” defensive backs. There is nowhere to go up for the Redskins secondary and with talent on the way for the defense they look to be better than last year.
The NFC East will most likely be the least competitive division in football, but also could be the most intriguing as RGIII is always a must see as well as Tony Romo and Dallas. The Eagles will be the most exciting team to watch or at least a team we will all have our eyes on during week 1 because of their new offense under Chip Kelly. If they can play well on offense and put up big numbers there is no doubt that the NFC East will be the most exciting division to watch this year.
Jerry Jones should take a listen to the Beatles “Can’t buy me love”. Well he probably has no problem finding “love” but money sure has not bought him wins. Jerry Jones has pushed everyman that ever won for him away. Jimmy Johnson had the audacity to disagree with Jones (after being a Super Bowl winning head coach) and Jones fired him. Bill Parcells was allowed to build a quality team but chose not to put up with the organizational mess in Dallas. Jerry outed him. Jerry Jones has built a marvelous stadium and kept the Cowboys as the most recognizable brand in sports. His money works for all that. But his money has made the Cowboys a joke.
Since 1996 the Cowboys have won 1 playoff game. Literally since I was 6 years old the Dallas Cowboys have been irrelevant. Yet their fan base continues to swell.
Jerry Jones is an egotistical fool who thinks he is the coach GM and Owner. Now he has taken the play-calling-powers away from head coach Jason Garrett. I guess Garrett finally called Jones on his impossible to miss BS. He does not like that. How are the players supposed to take the coach seriously, if the owner takes away his authority?
The Cowboys are a joke. And it is all the fault of one man’s hubris. I hope he is having fun in Jerry land becuase he sure aint winning. And I could not be happier about it. The league is better when the historically important Cowboys are good; but the league should not hold its breath.