Consistency is key but the wrong kind unlocks mediocrity.
Such is the story of the Dallas Cowboys under the Jason Garrett & Jerry Jones imperium.
The win-or-go-home loss to the division rival Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17 secured a 3rd consecutive 8-8 season for the Cowboys under Garrett. The Eagles actually did the Cowboys a tremendous disservice. Not just in winning, but in merely winning by 2 points. This fuels the beliefs of Garrett and Jones that this team is still, somehow, “close.”
But close to what, exactly? 9-7? Stumbling into the playoffs like Kramer through Seinfeld’s apartment door? Another 1st round loss?
That’s the problem in JerryWorld. You’re handed blue & silver tinted glasses to convince yourself that everything you see is sparkling. That’s also the problem with consistent mediocrity.
Mediocrity tells you that you’re good enough because you’re not terrible. It insists you’re a move/decision or two away from championship quality. The skewed perspective mediocrity brings is so convincing because the alternative is so damningly hard to accept. The alternative points a finger and reveals ineptitude. Who wants that?
The truth about this most recent edition of the Dallas Cowboys is that they’re much closer to a 5-11 team than 11-5. It’s assumed Dallas is always one of the more talented teams in the league but not anymore. How many linear swaps of position players would a playoff team consider if given the Cowboys roster to choose from? Dez Bryant would be the most popular choice. A healthy Sean Lee, perhaps. Ware, depending on scheme and/or salary. But inverse the question and the chapters needed per position would make J.K. Rowling envious.
This football team is not a very good football team. The talent level of the roster is perplexingly below average.
The question of how to stockpile talent without spending hundreds of millions in free agency was answered by the introduction of a rookie pay scale. Yet Jerry Jones, once an insanely wealthy cutthroat businessman, continues to overvalue the Cowboys’ roster and outbid himself to keep average players.
Tony Romo, $119mil. Miles Austin, $54mil. Brandon Carr, $50mil. Jay Ratliff, $40. Orlando Scandrick, $28mil. Kyle Orton $10mil. (contract figures from spotrac.com)
Point in relief: the entire Seattle Seahawks secondary (best in the NFL) has less of a cap hit than two key pieces of Dallas’ secondary (worst in NFL history) Carr and Scandrick combined. It’s not that Seattle is stingy, they gave $29mil to Safety Kam Chancellor, it’s that they have a system and draft accordingly.
Jerry Jones’ business prowess is supposed to be a strength which makes the need for a General Manager redundant. However, Jerry still doesn’t understand the importance of a system. His fixes reveal this time and again. The secondary in Dallas is so high-priced because the ability to play man-to-man coverage week in and week out is nearly endangered. The sole purpose of any investment is the belief it’ll cultivate an exponential growth you’ll soon profit on. Football + Wins = Profit. So then why would Jerry hire a guy with a Tampa 2 zone coverage scheme that undercuts his investment and devalues his assets? Skewed perspective. Minimal accountability. Delusion of own accomplishments.
“The facts are I really do think the way things have rolled out I’m getting to do some of the best work I’ve done, relatively speaking in my career, over these last several years.”
“It’s unfortunate that over these last five or six years that we haven’t had a few things turn right for us at the end of the season – needing to win one out of two games to get into the playoffs, having a healthy quarterback, all of those things. But we’ve been a lot closer than it seems.”
Things don’t just turn right when they’re wrong.
All of this is why the Cowboys are so hopelessly mediocre. Jerry Jones is like the primary character on an episode of Intervention: it takes rock-bottom humiliation before they agree to get help. That’s how the Eagles did more long-term damage to the Cowboys in winning by 2 than they would’ve in winning by 22.
This is why Jason Garrett has retained his job as head coach, Jerry Jones will enter his 25th year as Cowboys’ GM, and this team will continue to be just good enough to fail.
Having turned 71 in October, you’d think Jerrall Wayne Jones would want to limit déjà vu.