At a certain point, they need to succeed in the playoffs.
One of the most revealing things said by Jerry Jones in the past few years came from his interview with Peter King’s Football Morning in America in May. He told a story about coverage of the Cowboys:
“A few years after I bought the team, I’m out in Los Angeles having lunch with David Hill and Ed Goren of FOX. At that time, there were a lot of negative headlines about the Cowboys. Michael Irvin was in the headlines. People are saying, ‘The owner’s an outlaw!’ And so that day I told them, ‘I’m tightening the lid on this franchise. We’re gonna get control of this team.’
“And David Hill jumped up. He said, “NO! Do not touch my ‘Boys! They are television gold! Don’t even think about it!’
“The foibles, the soap opera, the issues. They create interest. Add in the Senior Bowl, the combine, free agency, the draft, training camp, we always got something going. People follow us year ‘round. The owner every now and then gets in the paper. It just adds to the interest, all of it. People love that.”
When you endure the Cowboys through this point of view, where they are nearly as much an institution of public interest as a football team trying to break an almost-30-year title drought, what they do makes more sense. It isn’t just about being good, it’s about capturing your emotional reaction and using it to sustain interest. Maybe it’s interest in a good way, or maybe you’re just waiting for the Acme anvil to fall on Mike McCarthy’s head yet again. Either way, it’s interest. And the Cowboys are a perfect encapsulation of this double-sided interest because we could write two entirely different chapters about them depending on how we weigh out our interpretation of the foibles.
Let’s start with DVOA’s positive interpretation of what’s going on here. The Cowboys keyed a major defensive turnaround under new coordinator Dan Quinn last season. He grew beyond the stagnant Cover-3 playcaller we had seen at times in Atlanta, playing more quarters and playing off his bread-and-butter coverages...