Playoff expansion is a hot topic and a possible showdown between the league and the player’s union makes for a compelling storyline. It would seemingly increase revenue, and likely generate more interest – as if the NFL is suffering from a lack of interest. But expanding the playoffs, and including a couple more teams that would otherwise be spending their time on a golf course is an idea that appeals to many. And there is perhaps no bigger supporter of the idea than Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
After slogging through three consecutive 8-8 seasons, and enduring a four-year playoff drought, if Jones can find – or manufacture – a way to get the Cowboys back into the postseason, you can rest assured that he will jump at it wholeheartedly.
“I am pleased that we’re looking at expanding the playoffs. I think what a playoff means to a team and to a city is unquestioned. Now, from the Cowboys’ standpoint, maybe it will give us a better chance to be in the playoffs, so I’m an easy vote on this one.”
Jones is so desperate to see his Cowboys back in the playoffs, that he’d likely cut out an organ if it helped their chances – or vote to expand the postseason to thirty teams, just to give Dallas a better shot at it. Or possibly both. Jones seems willing to do anything and everything to get the Cowboys back into the playoffs – except doing the things that matter most, like using an honest and critical eye to take a good, hard look at his roster and make the tough decisions for his football team.
One of the biggest areas of weakness for Dallas for a few seasons now has been their defense. As a unit, the Cowboys ranked between the middle of the pack and the bottom of the league in most significant defensive categories, which partly explains their run of mediocrity over the last four seasons.
But rather than upgrade the defense, they made it worse by releasing Demarcus Ware, arguably their best player on that side of the ball. They did it with the desperate hope that the younger and cheaper option, DeMarcus Lawrence, can fill those sizable cleats. Perhaps he can, but with no significant upgrades to the defense, it’s difficult to see how they will be able to improve upon last season’s rankings.
While it is, of course, considered by many to be heresy or perhaps even treason, to criticize QB Tony Romo, it’s something that Jones and head coach Jason Garrett haven’t done enough of over his tenure under center in Dallas. Instead, Jones has given Romo a massive payday, and provided him with no competition. Romo has never felt that his job is in jeopardy, even if he underperforms. As a result, Romo has gotten comfortable with mediocrity. He’s perhaps even gotten complacent. He has no incentive to improve, push harder or aim higher. Despite the fact that he’s never led Dallas beyond the divisional round of the playoffs, and has in fact helped lead the Cowboys to their current, very average state, Romo has never had to fear that Jones is going to replace him. Despite never taking the Cowboys to the promised land, Romo remains Jones’ golden boy.
So perhaps instead of trying to expand the playoff just to give his perennially 8-8 club a better shot at getting in, Jones might do better to improve his team and to put the pieces in place that would allow the Cowboys to get into the postseason on their own merit. But then, it probably is easier just to vote to let more teams into the dance.