Originally Posted by kartr
Coaches don't automatically get fired when there's a change of ownership. How many times has this happened. Landry got fired because the game had passed him by. His last few teams were terrible, getting blowned out 50-0 against the Bears is an example and Danny White's play(3 straight NFC championship losses because of his poor play). Landry should have traded him to team like Green Bay for picks, but he didn't, and that caused the team to decline. We had the backs(Walker and Dorsett), receivers (Drew Pearson,Tony Hill), TE(D. Cosbie) etc., to win 3 superbowls. Roger took us there 3 times and Danny couldn't get us there once, and Landry's attempts to find a replacement bombed with Pelleur and Hogeboom.
White was a very good player who went through too many successive bad trials. That choking fumble in the 1981 SF game where he had the Cowboys within a few seconds of beating the 49ers despite "the catch". Then that horrible strike, where White's attitude was he could care less about free agency and openly didn't support the strike. This unwise honesty lost him support of some teammates. Then that crushing loss vs. Washington in the 1982 playoffs when Manley knocked him out.
Despite all this, the Cowboys still had one of their most prolific offensive seasons in 1983, and White showed great character in the 83 season opener after that crushing loss in the 1982 playoffs. Down 23-3, he sparked an amazing comeback with deep passes. But Dallas had problems on defense that forced the offense to press at times. "No, Danny No!"-- Landry's famous uncharacteristic shouts from the sidelines as White snapped the ball on 4th down when Landry only wanted to draw Washington offsides was the final confidence breaker. The Cowboys got blasted the next meaningless game at San Francisco and then lost to at Rams team they were far superior to because White threw multiple interceptions in the red zone. White's confidence was shot.
Landry failed though when he stuck a lesser qualified QB, Hogeboom, in at starter the next season. Hogeboom basically stunk, and White re-took his position. At this point though the 'Boys had traded away Butch Johnson, had lost Billy Joe Dupree to retirement, traded Doug Donley, and lost Drew Pearson to liver damage caused by a tragic offseason car accident-- the passing offense was struggling with only Tony Hill and Doug Cosbie to throw to.
Even though White seemed to be regaining his condifence, fate had decreed that Dallas was no longer good enough to compete with the best team in the conference-- whoever that turned out to be. We barely missed the 1984 playoffs despite playing bums like Duriel Harris at #2 WR and in the 1985 playoffs we actually had Danny White throwing passes to scrubs like Kenny Duckett with worn out Mike Renfro our #2 option.
This is where Landry and Brandt were a year or two behind. With Boomer Esiason available in the 1984 draft's second round, we instead went defense and drafted Billy Cannon Jr. (who promptly broke his neck and retired from football) and Victor Scott (two picks after Esiason, and Scott was nothing more than an average safety).
In 1985, Eddie Brown and Jerry Rice were there to be had and we let SF trade up in front of us and take Rice and we never made a single move up. I would have settled for Jessie Hester or Vance Johnson-- instead we went defense again and drafted a bust Michigan DE, Kevin Brooks, and VT's Jesse "I can't tackle QB's that weigh more than 200 lbs" Penn. Herschel saved that draft in the 5th round.
In 1986 it looked like we had things righted. Our DL was on its last legs but still strong, and Sherrard and Walker were just the juice our offense needed-- but White broke his wrist against the Giants when we were 6-2 and Dallas went into a tailspin that only Jerry, Jimmy, and the Triplets could save us from.
Fate had it in for Dallas in the 80's, maybe it was hubris from all the winning and the whole "America's Team" fallout; maybe Landry was past it. Who knows, I'm just glad we've had the tradition we do.
"Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve."
- Tom Landry