Yesterday, Dallas Morning News writer Jean-Jacques Taylor (who, given his name and photo, should really be some sort of Project Runway contestant) pointed out that the Cowboys are on the verge of having the worst decade in their history, strictly from a wins and losses perspective.
The franchise has never finished any decade in their existence with a losing record, but they are a definitively average 71-73 coming into the 2009 season. Taylor points out that the team needs to finish at least 10-6 this year to beat the team’s current Worst Decade mark: the 1960’s. The Cowboys finished 67-65-6 that decade, which only added insult to injury, considering all the other pesky things Texans had to deal with at the time: hippies, people wiggling their pelvises for a national TV audience, demmycrats taking over the White House, women getting jobs, and such and such.
The question is: IS the team good enough, and is the schedule soft enough to elude the potential stigma? Well, considering that it’s late July, let’s play the classic summer game where we go through each game on the schedule and predict each outcome.
Week 1 at Tampa Bay: A soft opener for a team that could use a good start. The Bucs are breaking in a new coach, and the Cowboys defense will either be squaring off against rookie QB Josh Freeman, or Byron Leftwich (you know him as Madea in those wacky Tyler Perry films). Verdict: WIN
The center of the Dallas Cowboys universe.
Week 2 vs. NY Giants: The first in an absolutely brutal slate of divisional games. Luckily for Cowboy fans, the AFC portion of the schedule features the AFC West, which provides a lovely counterbalance of suck. This will be the first official game played in the new stadium. You would think that would fire up the crowd, except there may be a clutch moment when everyone needs to be focused except that OOOH LOOK DEAR! THEY HAVE PEKING DUCK! Verdict: LOSS
Week 3 vs. Carolina: Given the Panthers excellent record last year, it’s tempting to chalk this up as a loss. Then you remember that the brittle husk Jake Delhomme will be taking snaps. Caroliona even inked the guy to a contract extension. Why? No one knows. Verdict: WIN
Week 4 at Denver: I’m assuming that, by Week 4, Josh McDaniels will have traded every player out of Denver and replaced them with the nanobots he so cherishes. Verdict: WIN
Week 5 at Kansas City: This is the supposedly new and improved KC squad, led by Todd (All men named Todd are jackasses) Haley and Matty Cassel. Given the tough environment, this is just the kind of trap game Romo and Co. tend to lose focus for. But this is summer, so you always give your team the benefit of the doubt in this game. “At the Patriots? Oh, EASY WIN. EASY WIN, BOYS.” Verdict: WIN
Week 6 – BYE: Fire up the stripper plane for the Double J. The Cowboys are 4-1.
Week 7 vs. Atlanta: Atlanta still has a questionable pass defense, but with Gonzo in the fold, it’s easy to see this game turning into one of those 35-32 fantasy football wet dreams that I never have a player participating in. So annoying. Verdict: LOSS
Week 8 vs. Seattle: The Seahawks figure to be vastly improved from last year’s outfit, given that Matt Hasselbeck is healthy once more and Housh is in the fold. But the schedule turns brutal right after this, so let’s be generous. Verdict: WIN.
Week 9 at Philadelphia: Given the last game the Cowboys played here, I think we’ll call this a loss. That Week 17 asskicking should have counted as some sort of double loss. Verdict: LOSS
Week 10 at Green Bay: A team that played much better than their 5-11 record indicated. According to Football Outsiders, the Packers were, stat-wise, the unluckiest team in football last year. Cue the Social Distortion record. Verdict: LOSS
Week 11 vs. Washington: It’s the biggest game of the year for Little Danny Snyder, midget owner to the stars. Verdict: WIN
Week 12 vs. Oakland: Once every season, your favorite team will completely bone a game against an opponent you fully expected them to beat. You didn’t even consider the idea of them losing. What’s fun about the Cowboys is that have at least four or five losses every year like this. Verdict: LOSS
Week 13 at NY Giants: Sorry. Back to .500. Verdict: LOSS
Week 14 vs. San Diego: Given this team’s penchant for blowing games in December, the final four game stretch of SD/NO/WAS/PHI is a particularly intimidating obstacle to face. Then there’s the added pressure the Cowboys will face of knowing full well that they folded in crucial moments over the past two seasons. That can’t be easy to deal with, particularly when you’ve got Philip “Marmalard” Rivers coming up, fluttering balls and yelling at greenskeepers to stay abstinent. Verdict: LOSS, and the Worst Decade mantle is clinched.
Week 15 vs. New Orleans: At 6-7, it’s almost easier if your team loses the next game and drops out of contention, so that you can stop worrying about them. After all, they’re just gonna bow out in the first round if they make the playoffs anyway. Except Arizona made it all the way last year! That can happen again, right? Right? No? Crap. Verdict: WIN
Week 16 at Washington: One last chance to get back into contention. I think they can do it, except… OH NO! WADE’S FLOP IS SWEATING AGAIN! Verdict: LOSS
Week 17 vs. Philly: Oh, who cares now? Whatever. Life sucks. FIRE WADE FIRE WADE FIRE WADE! Verdict: LOSS
And that’s where we net out: a 7-9 season, a long-needed firing of Wade, and the official title of Worst Cowboys Decade ever. However, if you’re a Cowboy fan, I heartily implore you to try the game on your own. A LOSS turns into a WIN so easily when you simply use your mind. Why, this team could go 16-0! In the UFL, at least.