It’s that time of year; “preseason editions” of NFL power rankings are popping up everywhere as if analysts and writers actually have a clue how each team will fare this season after all the free agent movement and addition of rookies. Still, such premature creations of NFL hierarchy can influence teams due to pressure to live up to expectations created by these rankings. Fortunately for the Dallas Cowboys, this year those expectations aren’t as high as certain members of the organization would like.
Several sites have already released off-season and preseason editions of power rankings and the Cowboys are right in the middle of the pack in each one. The Cowboys are No. 16 in the latest edition announced on Monday and anywhere from No. 20 to No. 14 in others. Judging by past seasons, the lower the better for the Cowboys.
Following the 2009 season, the Cowboys were in the top five in most of these power rankings, even ranked No. 1 in one nationally prominent set of standings, and then turned in arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history. A year later ranked around No. 12, the Cowboys finished 8-8, again disappointing the Dallas faithful.
With a lower spot in the power rankings this season, the team with all the physical talent in the world but absolutely no mental toughness might be in its best position to succeed in years. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones always expects his team to contend for a Super Bowl and that’s a large part of the problem in Dallas. Before that previously mentioned 2010 season, Jones made it clear his team had a Super-Bowl-or-bust mentality in the franchise’s 50-year anniversary and look how that turned out.
After a second consecutive season in which the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs, perhaps flying under the radar and being considered an underdog will help Dallas to at least return to competitiveness, and then possibly contender status…eventually. Let’s face it; this team doesn’t have a ton of leadership on the field, the front office or the sideline, so the fewer distractions the better for players like Tony Romo who have the ability to develop into elite status, but haven’t thus far due to imperfect situations.
The Cowboys watched their sister team, the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA, win the 2011 title by employing a no-nonsense approach and their outspoken, colorful owner putting on a muzzle during the stretch run and the playoffs. Perhaps Jones should take a page out of the playbook and then the Cowboys might find some postseason success again. Food for thought.