Success can cultivate both a cult-like following and widespread hate, like that which grew from the Dallas Cowboys’ glory days in the 90s.
The Cowboys are up there with the Yankees as one of the most loved and most hated franchises in North American professional sports, which is normally reserved for a successful franchise of any kind.
However, since 1997 the Cowboys have been far from what one would call successful. Instead, they have arguably been the best example of mediocrity of any team in the NFL.
Here are some mind-boggling statistics to back up this assertion:
The Cowboys have a cumulative record of exactly 133 wins and 133 losses since 1997.
Since taking over as interim head coach in 2010, Jason Garrett has had a record of 26 wins and 24 losses.
Since Garrett’s first full season as head coach in 2011, the Cowboys have finished 8-8 twice and are 5-5 so far this season, a grand total of 21-21.
This year, the Cowboys’ biggest streak of any kind is two straight wins or two straight losses, the rest of the schedule following a win-one lose-one pattern.
In that span the Cowboys have been to the playoffs seven times and hold a record of one win and seven losses in eight games.
The Cowboys are stuck in neutral, moving neither forward or back – consistently average. And in today’s professional sports world, especially for a franchise as visible as the Dallas Cowboys, average is not acceptable.
If ever there were a season for the Cowboys to succeed in the NFC East, this is that season. With a Philadelphia team still adjusting to a new system and a new head coach, Chip Kelly, a Washington team with a terrible defense and consistency issues, and a New York Giants team with widespread dysfunction, this is the year for the Cowboys to make their move.
The Cowboys arguably have the most talent, the best defense and one of the two most seasoned quarterbacks in the division in Tony Romo.
This Cowboys squad has been together for multiple seasons in the same system and at this point should be producing at a much higher level than we have seen. Blame lies in one direction: up.
That direction points to two men in particular, Jason Garrett and, of course, the great Jerry Jones. Many believe Jones should call it quits and hand over the reins to a new-age general manager rather than cling to his position as messiah of the franchise before he draws too many Al Davis comparisons.
Garrett is the prototypical player’s coach. A player’s coach is someone who forms relationships with his players based on mutual trust – more of a friendship than an authoritarian father-figure relationship.
Examples of authoritarian style coaches are Bill Cowher, Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin. Typical player’s coach types include Andy Reid, Pete Carroll and Dennis Erickson.
To be successful as either type can be difficult, and obviously a balance between fun and authority must be found, and not everyone is cut out to be a certain style of coach, or to be a head coach at all. It appears that Jason Garrett may simply not be suited to be a head coach in the NFL, especially not a player’s coach.
Not every coach is gifted with the ability to make players rally around you and buy into your system while maintaining the respect of the players on the team. Some coaches may have a great mind for the game and are better suited as a coordinator instead of being the big man in charge, which is what it is beginning to look like for Garrett.
If there was ever a year for Garrett to prove himself as a head coach, this is it. This is the year for the Cowboys to take advantage of an uncharacteristically mediocre division and win the NFC East and head to the playoffs. If Garrett is unable to lead the Cowboys to a division championship this season, then it should be his last in the big D.