The Green Bay Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in what has to be the game of the year in the 2016 NFL playoffs so far. After falling behind 21-3 early, the Cowboys, led by ice-in-his-veins rookie QB Dak Prescott and freak-of-nature Zeke Elliott (not to mention Dez “I caught it and caught it and caught it” Bryant), stormed back to tie the game 28-28 and then again 31-31 (this time with a mere 36 seconds on the clock). But Aaron Rodgers did his inhuman, demonic wizardry and threw the ball 36 yards on a dime on the sideline to his tight end and a field goal as time expired marked the expiration date of the remarkable 2016 campaign of your Dallas Cowboys.
Every coach and every player on every team in every town will say, “We have to learn from this and move on.”
So, what have we learned?
Here are a few suggestions:
It’s the QB, stupid!
Bill Clinton once quipped, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
He was right. People vote their pocketbooks. Everything else is secondary for most folk.
In the NFL, it is all about the quarterback position. Rob Wren, sometimes SBB contributor, good friend, cigar aficionado, wedding singer, Facebook philosopher, and Cowboys fan deluxe posted to Facebook this very morning:
Look at the final four QBs left. Rodgers, Ryan, Roethlisberger, Brady. I think that says it all. One day soon the name Prescott will be there as well.
A drunk Jerry once declared, “Romo was a miracle.”
So was Dak, who dropped into the Cowboys lap when they failed to get the coveted Connor Cook with a trade up.
We are set at the most important position on the field with a kid with skills, grit, leadership chops, focus, and ambition.
The house always wins, Jerry
Jerry Jones is a gambler. He rolls the dice. He takes flyers on guys with big talent and small brains or bad hearts. Greg Hardy, for instance. Randy Gregory, who is sitting out a full year because he can’t quit firing ’em up. Demarcus Lawrence. Rolando McClain.
The trouble is Blackjack Jerry has placed all of his pass-rushing hopes in bad dudes who cannot be trusted. When they do what they do best and screw up, Rod Marinelli “Sauce” is left having to make Chicken Parmasiagne out of chicken poop. He has to take journeymen players off of other teams’ trash heaps and mold them into viable options.
That is fine. In the regular season. Some of the time. But not as a strategy for building an effective, championship-caliber defense!
An unmolested Aaron Rodgers is a victorious Green Bay Packers. Period.
The game starts at 3:40. Be there!
You cannot spot a Packers team a 21-3 lead and expect to have much of a shot at actually moving on. The Cowboys had two weeks to prepare and came out of the gate tight and finicky and mistake-prone. Hopefully, maturity fixes that, but it wasn’t the rookies making those mistakes.
Homefield advantage should never, ever, ever be squandered in the NFL playoffs
For 20 years, the Dallas Cowboys have watched the NFC title game from someplace besides the field of play. This year, they had a miracle run with a rookie QB and gained homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. That means win just two games AT HOME and you are a Super Bowl participant. That pole position is not easily achieved and should not be summarily surrendered. There is no guarantee you get it again next year or the year after.
The future is NOW
The Cowboys have a young core at key positions, a veteran coaching staff, solid talent, and energy. It’s now or…whenever.
Happy offseason. See you next year.