DALLAS — If you’re a longtime fan of the Dallas Cowboys, it’s one of the more ominous feats of the new century; the boys with the blue star haven’t been to the NFC Championship game since the 1995 season. That’s 25 years' worth of futility for one of the NFL’s glamour franchises.
To put into context how embarrassing the championship game drought has been for the Cowboys, they are one of just three NFC teams, joining Washington and the Detroit Lions, who haven’t played for the conference title in the last 25 seasons. Not exactly the company you’d like to keep when among the also-ran teams that have made it twice or more in the same time span include the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On the AFC side, there are five teams that haven’t made an appearance in the AFC Championship tilt. That means the Cowboys are one of eight teams in the NFL who haven’t made it to the final four in the span of two and a half decades.
The good news is that the last franchise with such a proud history, but a frustrating era of ineptitude, was the Kansas City Chiefs. That organization hadn’t been to an AFC title match in 25 years either, spanning from 1993-2018, until the Chiefs finally made the championship game two seasons ago. A year later, and Pat Mahomes led them to their first Super Bowl championship since 1969.
It’s time for the Cowboys to end this run of futility. They have the pieces in place to compete for a Super Bowl. Dallas employs a deep and talented group on offense. The quarterback is on the rise, the weapons at his disposal are elite and the offensive line is one of the finest in the league. It’s an offense that has a wonderful blend of veterans and gifted young stars to be one of the best units in the NFL.
Even so, the offense wasn’t the issue last season. Instead, while Dak Prescott and company were putting up league-leading passing stats, everything else contributed to an 8-8 record. The coaching, including the head man Jason Garrett, the defense, and an especially abysmal special teams unit were to blame for most of their shortcomings in 2019.
All of those problem areas have been addressed. Mike McCarthy arrives with an impressive resume that includes a Super Bowl win and four championship game appearances in his 13 seasons in Green Bay.
He’ll also bring along a new coaching staff, which means a new special teams coordinator. One of the team’s real bugaboos last year was nearly everything regarding special teams, so they brought in guru John “Bones” Fassel to fix the troubled area after a stint as steward of one of the better special teams units in the league with the Los Angeles Rams.
The defense remains the biggest worry. The Cowboys brought in Mike Nolan to lead an impressive staff on the defensive side of the ball and the organization set out to improve the unit. Good veteran free agents like Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe and HaHa Clinton-Dix were brought in to improve a defense in desperate need of help but one that was a bright spot in 2018 when the Cowboys won the NFC East.
However, the team should not be done looking to get better. There are moves that the Cowboys can make to knock off the 25 years of rust on their last championship game appearance.
Trading for Jamal Adams remains an idea the organization needs to pursue. A complete play-making safety is something the defense has been missing for years and someone of Adams’ quality doesn’t come along very often. With his preference to play for the Cowboys, it just makes sense for the team to continue to try to acquire his services, even if the price is a first round draft pick and more.
The same can be said for defensive end help. Everson Griffen or Jadeveon Clowney are still available and Dallas should be investigating what it would take to bring in either free agent to provide stalwart DeMarcus Lawrence with a steady, veteran bookend along the defensive line.
It’s been 25 long years for the proud franchise, who must be exploring every opportunity to get better. If the franchise is serious about ending an embarrassing drought, there are accessible options that remain for the Dallas Cowboys.
Two and a half decades is long enough. It’s time for the Cowboys to go all-in.
Do you think the Cowboys will be able to put 25 years of disappointment behind them in 2020? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.