The Dallas Cowboys are football royalty but they aren’t exactly relevant the past 24 years. The difference between the two is crucial to understand.
Every single Dallas Cowboys fan you talk to will bring up the fact that it has now been 24 years since America’s Team last appeared in a Super Bowl. That is a very harsh fact of the organization nowadays. You can’t win it if you aren’t there.
Well, to get there, the franchise has to appear in and win the NFC Championship game. And for the Cowboys, that drought is nearing 25 long and painful years. It’s a drought only a few of the most dysfunctional organizations around the league are experiencing.
Since the Cowboys defeated the Green Bay Packers 38-27 in the 1995 NFC Championship game, capping off a fourth-straight appearance, a total of 24 of the 31 other NFL franchises have appeared in a conference championship game.
The other seven teams not to make a conference championship game since 1995 are the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Houston Texans.
Using that logic, Dallas is one of the lower 25 percentile of NFL teams for over two decades now. They are still in the shadow of all that success of those early 90s Cowboys teams. The dynasty days.
Looking at just the Cowboys’ year to year regular season win-loss record, this franchise would be in the upper echelon of teams, especially over the past 15 years. They finished .500 or better in 13 of the past 15 seasons. The chances are there, but the big wins aren’t.
Last season was a microcosm of just that. The Cowboys were 1-6 versus playoff teams in 2019 as they just can’t win enough big games to stay relevant. Let alone be a top dog in the NFC.
The division titles are nice and they breathe hope into a fanbase that doesn’t need much hope to be all-in on the team. But if this franchise wants to usher in an era of success under new head coach Mike McCarthy, they’ll need to win big games.
The promising thing about the former Green Bay Packers coach coming in is his record in the divisional playoff round. McCarthy has won four such big games, the most of any NFC coach since 2006. That’s one more than the Baltimore Ravens’ Jim Harbaugh, the New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton, and the Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll.
McCarthy’s divisional playoff wins are four more than the Cowboys have had since 1996, even though Dallas has had six of those postseason games since. He ironically got to his last two NFC Championship games by defeating Big D in the divisional playoff round.
Droughts are meant to end and McCarthy might have the formula to end it in Dallas. But until then, this franchise should be more often compared to the Cleveland Browns than the New England Patriots.
Football royalty is based on the past, but relevancy is based on the present. Don’t confuse the two. At some point, the three Super Bowl titles from the 90s need to stop being referenced as to why the Dallas Cowboys are still relevant today.