The Cowboys have found themselves in a weird place at the end of this 8-8 season.
They saw their patience in certain players -- Anthony Spencer, Bruce Carter, Jason Hatcher and especially Dez Bryant -- really pay off for them this season while still winding up in the same place that they were before.
At the same time their patience (or ignorance, if you prefer) with other spots continued to blow up in their faces. The offensive line and the safeties remained in the same gutter they were in when the year got underway. And, of course, there's the enigma that is Tony Romo in the biggest game of the season that persists even though he turned in the best extended stretch of play in his career before Week 17.
So which side do you choose? Thus far it looks like patience is winning out. Jason Garrett's still here, there's no talk of hiring someone to head up football operations who isn't Jerry Jones and there's also no sign of an offensive coordinator waiting in the wings. Rob Ryan's future is a little less secure, but it's awfully difficult to point to the defensive coordinator as the biggest problem with a defense that was signing people off the street and playing them on Sunday.
Jones is singing a different tune, though.
"I can tell you change is necessary at 8-8," Jones said, as reported by ESPN. "Change is in order when you spend the two seasons in a row down to the last two games and lose them, so we're going to have to have changes.
Firing a defensive coordinator doesn't feel like a major change, although, to be fair, Jones didn't say major change. He said "changes" and that's nebulous enough to feel like nothing more than hot air.
Change is a given from year to year in the NFL. The magnitude of the change is what determines what kind of path you're on as an organization.
Plenty of people like to point to successful teams and cite their patience as a virtue, but this week brought a prime example of teams that might have been a bit too patient. San Diego brought back coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith after a dismal 2011 season just to see more of the same because of the same issues that have bedeviled the Chargers for several years. That's one more year wasted as you start moving in a different direction.
Contrast that with Seattle, which sacrificed some wins in the short term to get the kind of players G.M. John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll wanted and then took a massive gamble on Russell Wilson. Those risks come with serious downsides if you're wrong, but the prize is well worth it when you're right.
The Broncos gambled on Peyton Manning, the Colts gutted their roster and the Bengals turned their offense over to two rookies in 2011 before going to the playoffs in consecutive seasons. There was even a time when the Patriots rolled the dice and turned to Tom Brady.
If you're going to make change, in other words, really make change. Anything else is just talk.