Here’s the good news for Dallas Cowboys fans: they have a good chance at winning the NFC East title and hosting an NFC wild-card round playoff game. The bad news? Based on how they’ve played this season, they don’t look like they’ll go very far in the playoffs. Recently, former Cowboys’ head coach Jimmy Johnson, now a Fox Sports analyst, was asked why the team can’t compete with the best teams in the NFL. His answer made a lot of sense.
The history of Jimmy Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys
Johnson’s shadow looms long over America’s Team. Johnson coached the Cowboys for only five years, but it was an incredibly successful half-decade. Johnson was brought to the team by the new owner Jerry Jones. Jones and Johnson had been teammates for the University of Arkansas football team.
The team went 1-15 in his first season at the helm. By the end of his tenure, they had won two Super Bowls. In 80 regular-season games coached in Dallas, Johnson’s record was 44-36.
Johnson and Jones were both known for their outsized egos, and despite their shared success together, those egos could not coexist. Johnson quit due to his inability to work with Jones. It wasn’t until 2016 that Jerry Jones finally took some of the blame for Johnson leaving town:
“I lost my tolerance for a lot of things,” Jones recently told KTCK-AM 1310. “I probably should have had a little more tolerance with Jimmy Johnson. Seriously.”
2019 season overview
The Cowboys have had an up-and-down 2019 season. They began the season with a three-game winning streak followed by a three-game losing streak.
A major problem for Dallas is their inability to beat good teams. The Cowboys are fortunate to play in one of the worst divisions in football, the NFC East. That includes two teams vying for next year’s number one pick (the Washington Redskins and New York Giants) and one team struggling and failing to avoid mediocrity (the Philadelphia Eagles). They also had wins against some other bad teams including the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins.
When it comes to competing with the league’s best teams, the Cowboys fall flat. They’ve lost games to contenders such as the Minnesota Vikings, the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints, and the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys have even dropped games against teams having bad seasons, including the Chicago Bears and New York Jets.
It’s apparent that the Cowboys aren’t a horrible team, but they’re not a great one either. To win in January, they’ll need to be great. So why is it that when faced with the best competition, the Cowboys stumble? Their former coach may have an answer.
Why Jimmy Johnson believes the Cowboys can’t beat any good teams
Jimmy Johnson’s assessment of his former team is harsh, but hard to argue with. His argument is that the team isn’t tough enough. He suggests they assign high expectations to themselves due to the prominence of the franchise, though they haven’t necessarily earned those expectations:
“I don’t know that this team is mentally disciplined, tough, demanding. It’s almost like there’s so much thrown to the Cowboys. The fans adore them, they love them. It’s almost an infection. They get the feeling they’re pretty good without accomplishing anything. When you have that type of feeling…it’s almost like they’ve already won, but they haven’t won.”
Based on the Cowboys’ results this season, Johnson may be right. Earlier in the same clip, Johnson revealed how hard he was on his players, at one point not letting them eat after a loss.
While it’s debatable how successful or ethical a tactic such as that would be in today’s game, it’s clear that the Cowboys of today don’t have the mental toughness of their predecessors when you look at their respective records.