Well, the Cowboys didn't make the playoffs this season, but that doesn't mean that we can't look back on the last 16 games and learn something. Indeed, the Cowboys 2011 season had much to teach us, like the following things:
1. THIS TEAM IS DOOMED. Okay, that might be a bit alarmist. But honestly, the Cowboys are a broken record at this point. The problems they have are the same ones they've had for over a decade: poor personnel decisions, an owner that undermines the coaching staff's ability to lead, inconsistent play at QB, and a glaring lack of depth. Jerry Jones doesn't plan on making any changes in the way that they Cowboys do business, so why should business get any better?
2. Tony Romo is what he is. Mark Sanchez is a worse quarterback than Tony Romo. He's worse when it comes to completion percentage. He's worse when it comes to turning the ball over. He's worse overall. But Sanchez and Romo share a common trait, and that is a decided lack of upside. Sanchez, as he is now, is as good as he'll ever be. Romo is exactly the same. Romo will almost certainly never rise above his current place in the NFL QB hierarchy: really good, but makes enough mistakes to not be the best. I don't know what you do with a QB like that. It's hard to part ways with someone who is THAT good, and yet you know that things won't get better than right now, and right now is 8-8. The current Cowboys strategy with Romo (and the roster in general) is to close their eyes and hope everything magically improves.
3. I'm not entirely down on Rob Ryan. Ryan's adjustments at the half of second Giants showdown helped the Cowboys climb back into that game. But ultimately, that defense was done in by its glaring lack of depth in the secondary. The Wolfman may have gotten too cute for his own good a couple of times this season, and Gregg Easterbrook may hate his guts, but I bet this defense would improve dramatically with more help on the back end.
4. DeMarco Murray! Such a shame he got hurt. I pray he doesn't end up just like Felix Jones - a rookie sensation who gets injured frequently and never lives up to his initial output. Knowing that the Double J drafted him, I feel like the latter is all but inevitable.
5. Sean Lee is our only hope. Here was your breakout Cowboys star of 2011, in a huge upset over Dez Bryant. Now, all we need are, like, six more guys like that and we'll be all set. Who's fired up for 9-7 in 2012? I AM!