1991 Review: Pundits Skeptical of Cowboys’ Improvement
Although there were plenty of reasons to be excited about the Cowboys’ future heading into the 1991 season, several critics thought that the moves the team had made might start to pay off around 1993.
Begin with Randy Galloway, who didn’t buy Jimmy Johnson’s claim that the Cowboys would make the playoffs in 1991:
Now that Johnson’s summer construction project for 1991 is complete, let’s inspect his work. Overall The Right — Despite his upfront boast about making the playoffs now, Johnson never lost sight of the real goal. Which is having a Super Bowl contender in two years. With this roster, the emphasis is not on now. It’s probably the youngest team in the NFL. Johnson will have to eat that playoff claim for this season, but he’s still on course for 1993.
Galloway wasn’t big on the draft, noting:
The nicest way to describe this draft class is that it’s too early to tell. Ten members stuck, but none on an impact basis, including Russell Maryland. The highlights for now are Leon Lett, Tony Hill and Larry Brown, who were down-the-line guys. Give it at least a year before passing judgment, but more was expected early, particularly at the top.
As for Galloway’s prediction, try 8-8:
How could anybody be talking 10 wins this year?
Eight would be great. Eight is tops. Forget the playoffs, but the building stays on schedule.
Galloway wasn’t the only one saying 8-8, either. Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated thought the Cowboys would finish 8-8 and in a tie for third place in the NFC East. Of course, given that the Cowboys hadn’t won a playoff game since 1982, it’s hard to blame anyone for being skeptical.
The Cowboys helped their cause by making two more moves during the summer of 1991. The first move was trading a second-round pick to Atlanta for defensive tackle Tony Casillas, who started 45 games for Dallas over the next three seasons. Less than a month later, Dallas sent a fourth-round pick to the Raiders for QB Steve Beuerlein, who had been a part-time starter. Sometime around, oh, say, November 24, 1991, the Beuerlein trade proved not only to save the season but also to propel the Cowboys forward beyond what anyone expected.