By Matthew Postins
Jerry Jones is, in my opinion, one of the most optimistic people you’ll meet. Frankly, you have to be in order to accomplish what he has accomplished in his life. Pessimistic people don’t take chances in any part of their life. Jones is a successful businessman and entrepreneur and his optimistic attitude plays a role. Sure, Jones, can get worn down by the events of the day like anyone else. But let’s be honest. Most days Jones likely comes to work with a good attitude.
Jones patrols the field during pre-game in his tailored suit and a smile. I saw him on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. He talked to players and coaches, and he signed autographs for Dallas Cowboys and Chiefs fans alike. I’d venture to say that in that moment Jones thought everything was possible.
Such is the odd juxtaposition of the Dallas Cowboys at this moment. A team led by a relentlessly optimistic owner has cultivated a rather pessimistic fan base.
I sat in the stands for this game, and when you spend most of your time in a press box you forget about the chatter you hear on gameday, especially from the fans. After the Dallas Cowboys lost, 17-16, to the Chiefs, I overheard plenty of Cowboys fans who were not talking about what the Chiefs did right, but what Dallas did wrong. And it was nothing new.
“Same old Cowboys.”
“They just can’t stand prosperity, even a little bit.”
“We’ve seen this before and it always ends the same.”
“They missed so many opportunities today.”
“It’s like they keep making the same mistakes over and over again.”
This current incarnation of the Dallas Cowboys is hard to love, if you’re a fan. How exactly does Jones sell 90,000 people on coming to his stadium, or thousands of Cowboys fans to travel to road games, when to some of them the die has already been cast? The past certainly helps Jones’ ability to draw fans, but the past doesn’t sustain you forever. There is a generation of Dallas Cowboys fans that only know Troy Aikman as a broadcaster and not as a three-time Super Bowl champion.
The Cowboys have been fighting a battle for more than two years. When it really matters this team seems to fail to get it done. Sometimes it’s by its own hand. Sometimes it’s a bad penalty. Sometimes it’s a bad play call. Whatever it is, it always seems to happen to this team at the most critical moment of a close game.
So it went in Kansas City. Tony Romo picked the worst possible time to be inaccurate, throwing three off-target passes in a row before the Cowboys settled for a field goal that only cut Kansas City’s lead to 17-16. Off-target is a charitable description of a couple of those passes.
Then there was the Morris Claiborne pass interference call on a play that, had there not been a penalty, would have forced the Chiefs to punt and given the Cowboys about two minutes to move into field goal position. But, instead, there was the penalty. Head coach Jason Garrett said on Monday he agreed with the call, but that really doesn’t make Cowboys fans feel any better, does it?
You never want to overreact to one game. But then again, this isn’t just one game, if you’ve been paying attention to this team since Garrett took over as head coach.
The Dallas Cowboys have to find a way to break this cycle and they have to figure it out now. The clock is ticking for players like Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten, tremendous players who are deserving of the opportunity to play for a championship but aren’t getting it because, collectively, this team seems to lack the chops to get things done in the clutch.
One fan I know put it on Romo, saying “He’s at a point now, age-wise, where you just can’t expect him to change his spots, you know?” It was his way of saying Romo has reached his ceiling as a player, which is something I wrote last year. Maybe this is all we get from him.
Maybe this is all we get from this Dallas Cowboys team, now and in the near future. Maybe this group, as talented as some of these players are, has reached its ceiling.
Do you know what happens when a player or a team reaches its ceiling?
Well, it’s nothing to feel optimistic about, that’s for sure.