Before I go on, I should first state that this is a long post. I think I have made the points clear, so hopefully it is an easy read. But if you’re not interested, don’t say I didn’t warn you as to the length of the post.
Also, this weekend I spoke to somebody I know is very close to the organization. We discussed a myriad of things, in particular Garrett as the Head Coach. I came away from the conversation with a lot more confidence that Garrett is the right HC for this team. I still want to see him give over the offense to somebody else. But, the conversation hit upon a lot of things I didn’t quite understand and how Garrett is making the entire organization better in the process. Hey, he still has to win games in order to be a good coach. But, this person sold me on the merits of his coaching and why we will eventually win games under him.
One more quick note. I am not at all down on Romo for that game. Ogletree screwed up the first INT. The second and third INT’s are on Romo, but the third one was again caused by a bad playcall to counter the blitz, our inability to counter the blitz all night due to playcalling/scheme design/incompetence on the O-Line being able to run block/great play call by Jim Haslett. But, I saw Romo have a great December, improve rapidly as the season went on with all of the injuries and show some real leadership the entire year, even in the loss last night. We need to look to the future at QB, but the future is not 2013 and probably not 2014 either. For now, Romo is not a big issue for this team.
Before each season, I have gone over what I call ‘The System of Parity’ that is the NFL. Simply put, I’m trying to identify the future playoff teams based on certain ‘profiles’ the teams fit into.
EACH year, we have certain teams that make the playoffs that:
a) Won their division in the prior year.
b) Had a losing record in the prior year.
c) Were a wildcard team in the prior year.
d) Were a team that went .500+, but miss the playoffs in the prior year.
Here are the percentages of the teams since 1999:
a) 47% (previous year divisional winner)
b) 28% (previous year team with losing record)
c) 57% (previous year wildcard team)
d) 42% (previous year .500+, but no playoff team)
I think A and B are the most interesting of the bunch. ‘A’ means that since 1999, divisional winners are MORE LIKE TO MISS the playoffs than make the playoffs. And depending upon the number of teams with losing records in the prior year, we are likely to see 3-4 of those teams make the playoffs the next season.
Of course, 2012 was a wacky year.
We had 6 of the 8 2011 divisional winners return to the playoffs. Since 1999, the most we had return to the playoffs was 5. That was in the 2004 season for the 2003 divisional winners. Other than that, winning the division has usually been a kiss of death unless you have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady as your Quarterback.
So, why was 2012 different?
1) All of the AFC division winners returned. This is good for Dallas since we are not in the AFC.
2) In each of the last 4 years (2008-2011), we only had 3 of the 8 division winners return to the playoffs. So, we were possibly due for a ‘system overload.’
3) We only had 12 teams with losing records in 2011. Historically, the lower the amount of teams with losing records the MORE LIKELY the division winners will return to the playoffs the next season.
But, it didn’t stop there. 4 of the playoffs teams this year had losing records in 2011 (Seattle, Indianapolis, Washington and Minnesota).
This was a bit odd because we only had 12 teams with losing records. History dictates that only 3 of these teams should have made the playoffs. Instead, 4 made the playoffs.
My main reasoning behind this is that it still part of the ‘after effect’ of the 2010 season when the entire NFC West had a losing record.
But outside of the wacky 2012 season, there is a reason for why the playoff teams are this way. The NFL has created a SYSTEM of parity. The league creates harder schedules for divisional winners. They give the division winners worse draft picks. And they give the worse teams first dibs on players cut from their contract.
So, what does this mean for Dallas?
I think it means that we are in better shape to win the Super Bowl in 2013 by NOT winning the division this year.
Granted, I do believe in what Wayne Gretzky once said ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ So yes, losing to the Skins hurts. But, it is hardly the end of the world in Cowboys land. Regardless of how badly we want to blow the organization up to smithereens.
Here’s a look at the last 10 Super Bowl winners and what they did in the prior season (in parenthesis)
2011 NY Giants (10-6 missed playoffs)
2010 Green Bay (wildcard team)
2009 New Orleans (8-8 missed playoffs)
2008 Pittsburgh (division winner)
2007 NY Giants (8-8 missed playoffs)
2006 Indianapolis (division winner)
2005 Pittsburgh (division winner)
2004 New England (Super Bowl Champ)
2003 New England (9-7 missed playoffs)
2002 Tampa Bay (wildcard team)
As you can see, 4 of the last 10 winners won their division the prior year. And 2 came from the SpyGate Patriots (w/Brady). One came from Peyton Manning. And the other 2 came from the Steelers and Roethlisberger.
The other 6 teams were either wildcard teams or went .500+ and missed the playoffs the prior season.
This year we have 16 teams with losing records. The numbers project that 4 of those teams will return to the playoffs.
And like I mentioned, the years there are FEWER teams with losing records historically means it is BETTER for the division winners. But, the opposite is also true. The years with more teams with losing records has been historically more difficult on the division winners.
Furthermore, the lack of success of 2nd year QB’s in the league is astounding (see Cam Newton). Thus, I like our chances against the Redskins whom have a second year QB, won the division and their QB already looks injury prone. In fact, I am much more concerned with the G-Men in 2013 than the Redskins.
So all is not down in Cowboys world. Yeah, it sucks losing to a divisional rival. It would be nice if the NFL would provide us with a more reasonable schedule than have us playing road games at the end of the year. Yeah, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. But, it is overly optimistic that we would have done something in the playoffs with the M*A*S*H unit we have out there.
And I really believe that this team is not that far away from reaching football nirvana. We desperately need to improve the safety play. We need to improve a lot at RT. We need our running game to get much better and we need to stay healthy. But, it sure beats needing a new QB or pass rushers or 2 new corners or new WR’s, etc.
There is no reason why this team can’t be ultimately successful in 2013 if they play their cards right (insert your "Jerry is incompetent" remarks) and get a little bit of luck on our side.