If the Cowboys Miss the Playoffs Again…

With the Eagles’  24-16 win over the Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys at 5-5 now sit a half-game out of first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys are also a full game behind the 49ers, Bears, and Cardinals for the last wildcard spot. Even if Carolina loses to New England tonight, the Panthers would still have a 6-4 record.

9013775-largeDallas now has to travel to the Meadowlands for a rematch with the resurgent Giants, who have won four straight. In fact, none of the remaining games are going to be easy for the Cowboys, and it is possible that Dallas will have to beat the Redskins on the road and Eagles at home in the final two weeks of the season to reach the playoffs.

On the positive side, that is exactly what the Cowboys did in 2009, the last year the Cowboys made the playoffs.

On the negative side, should the team fail, the Cowboys will have the third-longest playoff drought in franchise history.

The longest period where the Cowboys missed the playoffs was the first six years of the team’s existence from 1960 to 1965.

The next longest period was the five years from 1986 through 1990, which included the final Landry years and the first two years under Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones.

The current Cowboys have missed the playoffs three straight years. That was the same number of years the franchise missed the playoffs under Dave Campo.

Yes, the current Dallas Cowboys could have a longer streak of missing the playoffs than the teams led by the rotating of quarterbacks that included an aging Troy Aikman, an aging Randall Cunningham, Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, and Chad Hutchinson.

Jerry gave more money to Tony Romo last off-season than any other player in team history, yet one more season without the playoffs means that the Quincy Carter (et al.) era may start looking better than what we are seeing now.

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Drafting a Tight End in the Second Round and Expecting a Different Result

Overused quote of the afternoon:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Well-respected DMN columnist Rick Gosselin on Monday noted that Cowboys use of a second-round pick to take Gavon Escobar is already haunting the team. I would much rather take a week off from worrying about the Cowboys’ decision-making about anything, but this one just bugs me.

Here’s one reason: the 2006 NFL Draft.

Here’s a second: the 2008 NFL Draft.

Let’s review.

In 2006, the Cowboys missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The aura surrounding Bill Parcells was much less impressive, but the Cowboys could make some strides with another solid draft.

The team needed help in its secondary, especially at the safety position. It needed a receiver, given that it had two over the age of 32 (Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens).

Let’s stress this point: Tight end was not a need.

The team’s first pick was linebacker Bobby Carpenter. Not a good start, but that’s a story for a different day.

With their second pick, the Cowboys could have had safety Bernard Pollard. Or cornerback Tim Jennings. Or a returner named Devin Hester, who helped the Bears to the Super Bowl as a rookie.

Instead, Dallas took tight end Anthony Fasano with the 53rd overall pick. He was supposed to complement Jason Witten, but the Cowboys barely used him.

Two years later, the Cowboys traded Fasano and Akin Ayodele to the Miami Dolphins for a 4th round pick. Yes, the Cowboys traded a second-rounder from 2006, along with a starting linebacker, in exchange for one 4th round pick.

The result: Fasano caught 177 passes for 2104 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Dolphins over the next five years. Ayodele wasn’t great, but he started 18 games for Miami.

Dallas took that 4th round pick in 2008 and traded it to Oakland for a 4th rounder and a 7th rounder. Oakland used the pick to take Tyvon Branch, who has started 63 games.

I honestly can’t even summarize what happened after that. The Cowboys kept trading picks for more picks and more picks in deals with Cleveland and Jacksonville. The result: the Cowboys wound up with running back Tashard Choice, who lasted just over two years in Dallas.

Before the Cowboys showed their expertise in trading picks for picks and more picks, the Cowboys had a second-round pick in 2008 that they did not trade away.

The Cowboys needs in 2008? Offensive line. Safety. Wide receiver. Perhaps even another running back.

Let’s stress this point: Tight end was not a need.

The Cowboys, however, decided to take a tight end, Martellus Bennett. Yes, there was some theory that Bennett would be more like a receiver. But as everyone probably already knows, Bennett did less and less in his four years in Dallas, winding up with 846 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 4 years. In less than 2 full seasons since leaving Dallas, he has caught 9 touchdown passes.

Who did the Cowboys pass up to take Bennett? Cornerback Terrell Thomas, who started 34 games in his first three seasons with the Giants. Safety Charles Godfrey, who has started 74 games with the Panthers. Running back Jamaal Charles, who is just a bit better than Felix Jones, the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2008. Guard Jeremy Zuttah, who has started 69 games with Tampa Bay.

No, these are not big-time names, but any one of them would have been more valuable to the Cowboys than Fasano and Bennett were.

By the time Bennett left after the 2011 season, the Cowboys had wasted two second-round picks and STILL had needs in their secondary, and on their offensive line, and at the receiver position.

So we come to the 2013 NFL Draft. The Cowboys still had not resolved their problems at safety. The team still needed offensive line help. The team needed defensive line help.

Let’s stress this point: Tight end was not a need.

And so what do the Cowboys do with their second-round pick?

Take another tight end! And as Gosselin’s piece points out, the team knew Escobar could not block, so when he proved to be less effective as a receiver, the team had to know it had wasted yet another second-round pick on a tight end.

It’s perhaps a bit early to say how good the players taken after Escobar will be, but several teams found starters in the second and third rounds. And yes, the Cowboys found a gem in Terrance Williams, but that does not excuse wasting a pick on another tight end.

It is what it is (and I hate that phrase): insane.

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First-Down Trivia

The Dallas Cowboys gave up 40 first downs to the New Orleans Saints. It was the most in a single game in NFL history.

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New Orleans 49, Dallas 17: A Defense as Effective as Air and Gravity Alone

The Dallas defense gave up more than 600 yards again, and the offense provided no help at all, as the New Orleans Saints clobbered the Cowboys, 49-17.

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Discover which member of the New Orleans Saints scored three touchdowns against the Cowboys in 2006.

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The Dallas Cowboys had only 9 rushing attempts in their 27-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

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Dallas 27, Minnesota 23: Scoffing at Win-Probability Analysis

The Dallas Cowboys drove 90 yards with less than three minutes remaining to score the game-winning touchdown in a 27-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

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How Jerry Used to Respond to Dumb Losses and Mediocre Seasons

Can’t quite forget these facts— His defense allowed a receiver to gain 329 yards due largely to a pathetic defensive scheme. His team still had a 99% chance to win with just over a minute to play but found yet another way to lose a game. His team is now 4-4, and his head coach […]

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Thank Goodness for the Turnovers

Since the merger in 1970, no Dallas team has ever finished a season ranked below 23rd in the league in yards allowed. The one team that finished 23rd (out of 32 teams) was the 2010 squad. That was the team that began the season with Wade Phillips as head coach and wound up with Jason […]

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