Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The disheveled state of Big D

By a Dallas Cowboys fan from T.O., not that T.O. But pass the popcorn.

My buddy Melo, a Giants fan, was trying to cheer me up after the Dallas Cowboys’ third straight regular-season ending loss with the NFC East title on the line, a loss that also meant no entry to the post-season for the umpteenth time since the Triplets retired.

I would have none of it.

I don’t need sympathy from a Giants fan. EVER, EVER, EVER.

Did I mention Melo was my best friend.

Ah, he still is.
That’s because that 'title' game really didn’t matter.

Win or lose, the Cowboys have become irrelevant in the NFL pecking order.

Had Dallas won, they would’ve been summarily dumped in the post-season by the New Orleans Saints, just like the Philadelphia Eagles did, only more spectacularly so. Exhibit A would be the regular-season beatdown by the team coached by the Cowboys’ former assistant. 

The Cowboys have fallen so far below the elite squads that a late-80s depth charge to 1-15 seems only a couple of seasons away. 

Too harsh?

Can Dallas play on a level field against the Seahawks and 49ers? 

Not even on any given Sunday.

Their paper-thin roster has been perennially exposed. The window on an aging roster is closing rapidly and with a lengthy salary-cap jail term in the offing, there isn't an easy way out. There are no Herschel Walkers to trade.

As I told Melo then:

When I started watching this team, they were in the Super Bowl or NFC championship game almost every year. Then when I knew better, they stomped off with three Super Bowls in four years – should`ve been four if not for Coach 501.

Now my hopes ride on a division title game for a playoff ticket that’s going to be shredded the next week?

Don't think so.

Yes, I was emotionally detached by the end of the season, which featured pull-your-heart through-the-toilet  losses to Denver, Detroit, Green Bay. Did I miss any? It was such a methadone-inducing blur.

But at some point during the gut-punching session season, there was that moment of clarity, sober second thought that crystallized where the franchise stood: At the precipice of the Steve Pelluer / Quincy Carter eras -- although with Generalissimo Jerry at the tiller, the Carter era seems so much more appropriate.

Look it up:

BP – Before Pelluer, from 1984 to 1987: 9-7, 10-6, 7-9, 7-8 – 33-30

BC – Before Carter, from 1997 to 2000: 6-10, 10-6, 8-8, 5-11 – 29-35

From 2010 to 2013: 6-10, 8-8, 8-8, 8-8 – 30-34

A one-game gap in the pre-Carter era and today.

Two seasons ago, one could argue the Cowboys could've beaten the Giants and perhaps gone on a Super Bowl run like New York but those would be pipe dreams now. The NFL balance of power has shifted and it's tilted far, far away from the NFC East.

If not for hapless Washington, New York and Philly (5-1), the Cowboys would be looking at a top-10 draft pick. Outside of the division last season, they could only beat St. Louis, Minnesota and Oakland.

Here's what else is frightening: Cue The Exorcist intro.

Both of these fall-from-grace eras were, not suprisingly, preordained by historically weak drafts.

In the BP period, it was Gil Brandt losing his touch – after two and a half decades of glory.

In the BC era, like now, the Generalissimo had assumed total control, then from Jimmy Johnson, and most recently, from the association with Bill Parcells.   

To be continued