HOW MUCH CAN I REALLY ASK OF THESE DALLAS COWBOYS?

1/16/23

Jay C. Brandriet

I’m coming from the point of view of someone who’s loved the Dallas Cowboys since 1983.

This was a very nice season for Dallas.

A repeat effort of last year’s 12-5 mark.

The defense may not have the street fighting grit of the 49ers, but they create storms with their skilled group of athletes. The Cowboy’s get after the quarterback and take the football away better than anyone.

The 40-3 victory at Minnesota was a glimpse of their incredible upside.

The 33-0 fourth quarter vs Indy? One of those storms.

They went 4-1 with backup QB, Cooper Rush.

Pollard’s a game breaking x factor.

Zeke scores touchdowns, secures the ball, and has become underrated.

I like the kicking game.

If I was doing the power poll thing, I’d call Dallas the 6th or 7th best team in the NFL.

THE FLAT FINISH DIDN’T FEEL THAT ALARMING TO ME

It started against the lowly Texans. A last minute, 98-yard drive was required by the Cowboys offense. Concerning, but they closed the deal. Then a blown lead at Jacksonville. It was bad. However, I immediately told Jon Brown, “the story will be that we choked, but that was about the Jaguars arriving.”

After trailing the Eagles 10-0 this past Christmas Eve, Dallas won 40-34. It felt like a pressure cooker, passed with flying colors. It ensured their ticket to the playoffs. Five days later they went through the motions and beat the Titans second string.

Nobody can deny how off the Cowboys looked last week (give credit to Washington as well). You can say it was a “huge game” all you want. Chasing seeds is a weird concept. It’s not a coincidence it’s the least a loss has bothered me since 2012. I think they were out of mental gas, and I wasn’t shocked.

The boys got worked over twice this year.

The first was the opener against the Buccaneers.

THEIR REWARD IS PLAYING AT TAMPA BAY

The Cowboys as a franchise have won 35 playoff games.

So has Tom Brady.

Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News said some interesting words last week.

“Never have we had so little confidence in a 12-win team playing a team that’s under .500 in the playoffs. But we feel that way because we know Brady’s past and Dak’s present.”

My hope is a bit stronger than his message.

That said, he’s right.

Brady is still brilliant in the clutch, especially when his offense goes up tempo.

Prescott has been throwing a pick party all season long.

I’m hoping to see the cleaner side of Dak.

I’m counting on Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence.

MY LOWERED EXPECTATIONS

I’m grateful I got to watch Dallas become the greatest team of the 1990’s.

Since then?

There’s been a lot of television records set by eyeballs fixated on “America’s Team.”

More merchandise sold than you can imagine.

An awesome stadium was built.

Always the leader of noise and attention.

They went 8-8 over three consecutive calendars, and the sports media couldn’t find anything better to eat up.

A grip of stud players, competitive squads, and underachievement.

I’ve hit the point, going to the NFC championship would feel like, going to the Super Bowl.

HOW MUCH CAN I REALLY ASK OF THESE DALLAS COWBOYS?

I just want to win tonight’s playoff game.

A week from now, I’d like to have a chance late in the third quarter.

Might not sound like a lot to you.

When it’s only happened three times in a quarter century, you see the opportunities as slippery.

The Bucs have had to grind to get to 8-9.

They seem like their ability to be dangerous is building.

The Cowboys have a better roster.

Many laugh at the notion they should be trusted.

None of that matters when they all get under the bright lights.

Among my friends, I’ve been hard on head coach Mike McCarthy over his first two seasons.

Things came across more stable in 2022.

Losing this wild card matchup would be a Texas sized disaster.

You can’t go 24-10 and not cash in SOME.

Then the other side of it.

Someone told me, “I don’t think one win is enough for McCarthy to keep his job.”

It’s enough.

Factor this in as well.

Tom Brady is 7-0 against Dallas, and some of those required his magic.

Beating Tom Brady in the PLAYOFFS?

That would feel like two wins to me.

First road post season victory in three decades?

In front of potentially the largest viewing audience in Monday Night Football history?

That would feel like three wins to Jerry.

Jay C. Brandriet

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