You wanna worry that the Cowboys’ special teams under new coach Rich Bisaccia have surrendered a blocked field goal and coughed up punt-return fumbles in consecutive exhibition games? Go ahead.
Fret about the offensive line instability due to lingering injury and general incompetency? You betcha.
Bemoan that Sean Lee and his new contract might not live up to the legend of Lee Roy Jordan, or that Thursday night’s Silver ‘n Blue Debut “free” practice at AT&T Stadium comes with $10 parking? Be my guest.
Just do us all a favor. Don’t you dare spend a millisecond concerned about the Cowboys’ final scores in the preseason. Deal?
Here’s why: With a loss to the Bengals Saturday night in Arlington, the Cowboys (1-2) would clinch a losing record in the preseason for the first time in more than a decade. You heard me. The last time the Cowboys were under .500 (2-3) in exhibitions was back in 2001, when Dave Campo was the coach, Quincy Carter was handing off to Emmitt Smith, and their only defensive Pro Bowl player was named Dexter Coakley.
Since 2002 the Cowboys have been one of the NFL’s best fake-game teams. In the last 11 preseasons they are 28-16-1 (with a winning percentage of .622), far better than the 94-82 (.534) produced in games that count. Oh, and we all know the exhibition success has led to exactly one playoff win.
What does it mean? That preseasons are all about individual evaluation and next-to-nothing about team achievement. I know Cowboys fans say, “If we’re gonna keep score we might as well win,” but there is little or no predictive value in the outcomes of these exhibitions.
For example, in the Cowboys’ five Super Bowl-winning seasons their pre-seasons records were 6-0 (’71), 3-3 (’77), 2-3 (’92), 1-3-1 (’93) and 2-3 (’95). In the eight years they played in the title game they’ve had five losing pre-season records. And in their 30 playoff seasons, 12 times they had a winning preseason, 10 times a losing record and eight times they finished .500.
Sorry, Saturday night’s final score just doesn’t matter.
Ask Jerry Jones. For it was the owner who learned the hard way.
On Sept. 2, 1989, I was on the sideline in Texas Stadium. After Roger Ruzek made a last-second field goal to beat the Houston Oilers, 30-28, and cap a 3-1 preseason, Jones and rookie head coach Jimmy Johnson galloped giddily with arms upraised, off the field, into the tunnel and …
Eight days later they were shut out, 28-0, in their regular-season opener by the Saints. They finished 1-15.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.