Two things I heard lately that made me think about this – What is the culture and identity of this Cowboys Team?
I’m listening to the Audible book Gridiron Genius by Michael Lombardi where the former 30-year GM and Scout shares his stories working with Belichick, Al Davis, Bill Walsh, and others who created dynasties and winning franchises. In his chapter on Bill Walsh, he spells it out that leadership and culture change from the Head Coach is what matters the most instead of X’s and O’s or personality style. He uses the example of many ex-49ers coaches from George Siefert to Marty Mornhinwig who bombed after their 49ers careers because Owners and GMs wanted the WCO thinking that was the cure and no one gave Walsh the credit for changing the culture of the 49ers franchise. He told some horror stories of how bad the 49ers were in the 1970s, and some of the awful decisions they made, and how people easily forget what type of disaster Walsh inherited.
I’m not old enough to have seen the Landry culture change, but I did see the Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells versions, the two coaches I respect most, and Lombardi is right. It was a culture change more than anything that these men put into the team to make them successful again. They both inherited BAD franchises. And by the way, one of his other stories is being a consultant for the Rams one summer because Art Modell would not release him from his Brown’s contract. He wrote up a recommendation for Head Coach hiring. One section was about who he considered the most promising current assistant coaches and it’s a list of men who would go on to successful head coaching careers such as Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, Nick Saban. All except for one name which was Chan Gailey. But he dismissed it by saying there are many coaches who will fail in the Jerry Jones culture.
The other thing I listened to was the podcast Hangin’ With The Boys with Nate Newton and Jesse Holly. Their single question today was “What is the identity of this team?” Call him the big clown all you want, but Newton knows what makes a winning franchise. His complaint was the Cowboys were talking up a physical defense and a running offense and how they would continue this when Dak came back, but it’s like they almost forgot and Kellen/Dak are once again off to the races throwing the ball over and over. Both of the guys talked about what most of the fans probably feel which is this is a team that is always bogged down by inconsistency. We see them demolish a team like Minnesota and then choke to a Green Bay, or even almost blow it against the Giants who are missing several key starters.
They compare this team to Philly, especially with both teams playing Green Bay, and how Philly is able to shut down when necessary. Philly also has a questionable run defense but unlike our team, have managed to come through and close out the game when needed. Big Nate in particular is adamant that you are not a championship team unless you can do that. They asked if we are a team that other teams fear to play in the tourney and the consensus was no one is afraid. I also saw the same question asked on the ESPN morning show and they had the same opinion. San Francisco and Philadelphia are the picks for everyone, and no one thinks this team has improved enough to not be exposed once again in the playoffs by the 49ers.
So what is our team’s culture and/or identity? It’s hard to say that we are a physical team, a disciplined team or a consistent team. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles and Titans I may believe they are turning a corner that has stopped them for a long time now, but I’m still not sure I trust this team to go further than one round. I also agree with Lombardi’s take that the “Jerry Jones Culture” may doom us forever. Hollywood, overrate, media pandering, undermining, annointed coordinators, and the player’s buddy, not boss.