If you look at the team on paper, the Cowboys should probably rank higher if you were just going by roster names alone given the wealth of talent on their roster. But the team has had its share of disappointing seasons in recent years, and that cannot be overlooked.
Soon to be Hall-of-Famer Bill Parcells, who coached the Cowboys from 2003-2006, famously said that “you are what your record says you are”.
For the Cowboys, that cannot be more clear when assessing the team’s place in the league. For all their hype in recent years — omitting their bad early 2000s teams when they went 5-11 for three straight seasons — they have never reached nor exceeded their expectations for a complete regular season and postseason.
To emphasize this point, you can look to the fact that since their last Super Bowl win in 1996 over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team has a regular season record of 138-134, with just one playoff victory coming in 2009 in the Wild Card round against the Philadelphia Eagles. It is pretty remarkable that a team with such a rich tradition and so much talent over the years has underachieved so much.
Of course, their past failures beyond this current crop of Cowboys has no bearing on the 2013 team, but it does speak to the fact that the team is, year in and year out, one of the NFL’s most talented. Yet, they can’t seem to put it together on the field — a team as talented as they are should not have went 8-8 last season and missed out on the playoffs.
That is precisely why they are rightfully ranked in the middle of the pack and not higher.
They have a quarterback in Tony Romo who, for all the negativity he receives from fans and critics, has been one of the best at his position statistics-wise since he’s been a starting quarterback in the league.
They have a running back in DeMarco Murray, who has the potential to be one of the game’s best, a receiver in Dez Bryant who is arguabyly top-five at his position, an all-time tight end, outside linebacker and two cornerbacks who have the potential to be maybe the league’s best tandem.
But for all their talent at the skill positions, they have an offensive line that is below average, with their left tackle Tyron Smith being the only solid player. And in all honesty, have lacked the right coaching.
Now, they did slightly improve their offensive line in the offseason, drafting Travis Frederick in the first round with the hope that he can be the anchor at center that they need. They also re-signed Doug Free in what was a questionable move, but it’s one that will be perceived as more genius from Jerry Jones if the right tackle can revert to his pre-contract, 2010 form — especially given that Free took a pay cut.
They also made moves on the coaching front, bringing in longtime defensive guru Monte Kiffin, who has a Super Bowl ring, to run the defense. They also brought in Rod Marinelli, who was the defensive coordinator in Chicago from 2010-2012 when they ranked as the premier defensive model in forcing turnovers.
They have taken play-calling duties away from Jason Garrett in favor of Bill Callahan, so hopefully that will help the offense produce better, especially in the red zone.
For now, the Cowboys are a team that is 22-26 in the last three seasons. They lack an identity, and they go into 2013 with a ton of question marks. Their 14th ranking shows it.
It’s basically the middle of the pack, and for now, that’s right where they should be.