Some people are fans of the Dallas Cowboys. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Dallas Cowboys. This 2022 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: “OH I DON’T THINK THIS IS GONNA WORK OUT!”
Your 2021 record: 12-5, but fuck all that. I’m only here for History’s Worst Playcall. Let me set the scene, because it’s worth it. The Cowboys win the NFC East. They have four all-pros on their roster, including one of the greatest defensive rookies the sport has ever known. No team has scored more points the entire season. They have a few burps and farts along the way, as every team does. They lose to Tampa in Week 1 after Tom Brady does a bunch of Tom Brady shit to them at the end. They need a 56-yarder at the end just to beat the Chargers. They get inexplicably crushed by Denver. They lose to Vegas in OT thanks to their cornerback committing four PI infractions. Their overpriced jackass of a running back suffers the worst yards-per-game average of his career. But 12-5 is 12-5. This is a wildly talented team; certainly one good enough to win the NFC, and perhaps the Super Bowl as well.
Can you feel the excitement building? I can, mostly because I know what happens next.
The Cowboys draw a home game against the Niners in the Wild Card round and, after three quarters, find themselves in a world of shit. They’re down 23-7. They can’t run the ball. They can’t stop committing penalties. They can’t get the ball to their best wideout. But then the fourth quarter arrives and oh! OH WAKE UP THE ECHOES! The Niners’ offense retreats into its shell. The Cowboys’ offense finally comes alive and pulls to within six. They get a first down reversed on the Niners’ final possession to get the ball back and one final chance to win the game. They have no timeouts left.
America is transfixed. Everyone in the stadium finally stops looking at their phones. The Cowboys’ first play is a modest hook-and-lateral that works flawlessly. They’re already close to midfield. Then they complete two sideline passes in a row to get to the Niners’ 41 with just 14 seconds left. They’re in range. They can try one more sideline pass to get closer if they want. Or they can start taking shots at the end zone right away. Either way, a canny team would be able to squeeze off at least two more plays, and perhaps even three. This was one of those rare football moments where a comeback victory feels less like a long shot and more like destiny. The game is there to be won, and it will be. Here now is what the Cowboys did instead.
A draw. With no timeouts left. No play brought me more joy last season. I cannot stop watching it. It’s a schadenfreude-ian orgasm. I find something new to love every time I watch. Jim Nantz’s utter incredulity. Tony Romo, himself a former Cowboy, reassuring Nantz that there was time to call a draw and imploring everyone to calm down, all before realizing that he’s dead wrong. Dak Prescott handing the ball to his center without remembering that’s the official’s job and not his. That last part is important because, to this day, Cowboys fans are still like, The ump got in the way! He cost us that game! Motherfucker, THAT’S who you’re angry at? That’s who you hold responsible for the end of that game? Don’t you know who your coach is? Well allow me to introduce him to you.
Fucking amazing. I could crack a safe with my nipples right now, I’m so happy. Mike McCarthy did the math that game and deduced that running the ball there would cost his team no more than 13 seconds off the clock. That it somehow cost them the full 14 is a cosmic error that, when you think about it, really should have been overturned by the league office. Did I mention that the extra yardage Dak picked up on that draw would not have substantially improved Dallas’s end-zone chances, even if they had gotten one more play afterward? PUT THIS TEAM ON TV AGAIN RIGHT NOW SO I CAN WATCH THEM FUCK UP.
When I think of bad head coaches, Mike McCarthy’s name is the first one that comes to mind. Every time. Same for you. When you think of Mike McCarthy, your brain doesn’t word-association him with terms like “genius” or “savvy” or “handsome.” You just automatically picture Beav over on the sideline, mouth open, calling the stupidest possible shit at the stupidest possible time and then looking around in angry befuddlement when his decision doesn’t work out. He’s the greatest straight man in NFL history, and I hope he never gets fired.
Luckily for me, the Cowboys kept him. Maybe because they’ll hire Sean Payton five months from now. Or perhaps because they kept their two highly compensated and in-demand coordinators in the fold—Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore—specifically so that those men could both jockey for the top job after this season is over. All I know is that, instead making the right decision NOW, Dallas decided it would be fun to put if off until McCarthy punts on 4th-and-two again, or until his team leads the league in penalties for the second straight year, or until he benches his starting QB for an unretired Rob Johnson. I don’t know how McCarthy will sabotage his own team, I just know that he will. And THAT is why I’m ready to watch some football again. Fuck me, I can’t wait for more of this shit. You might say the Cowboys play in primetime way too often. I say put them on every night. Plenty of teams choke, but none do so with this kind of gusto. It’s magnificent.
Your quarterback: Dak Prescott, who’s brilliant until the moment he steps off the field.
Prescott was asked what he thought of fans flinging detritus, and at first he thought the fans had been throwing crap at his teammates. “It’s sad,” Prescott said. “For people to react that way when you’re supposed to be a supporter and be with us through thick and thin, that’s tough.” Prescott was then informed that the crap was being tossed at the referees and not the players, to which he replied, “Well shit, credit to them then. Yeah, credit to them.”
Dak apologized for those comments later on, but I think you and I both know he doesn’t regret them for a second. Yeah, fans! You’re right about how that game was all the refs’ fault and not ours! Let me spot my own ball! GITCHER BATTERIES ON!
By the way, despite the fact that Dak recovered from one of the nastiest ankle breaks ever televised, he still had the kind of nagging injuries in 2021 that will absolutely plague him for the rest of his career. Count on it. Your backup is still the extremely Texanly named Cooper Rush, who’ll get the same COOP chants Amari Cooper used to get. Only this time, the crowd won’t be all THAT into chanting it. They’ll passively go cooooooop like a teacher asked them to do it.
What’s new that sucks: Edge rusher Randy Gregory reneged on a deal with the Cowboys when the team, at the very last second, tried to sneak language into his new contract that would have voided his guarantees merely for getting fined. Randy Gregory doesn’t do fines. He goes right to death penalty shit whenever he gets in trouble, so you know he and his agent weren’t gonna have this shit. He left for Denver, as part of a soft exodus that included guard La’el Collins, wideout Cedrick Wilson, and Cooper, who got traded to Cleveland for a bundle of twigs and some circus peanuts because he wanted a new contract. This is a remarkably thin wideout room in Dallas now, almost as if overpaying Zeke Elliott to average three inches a carry came back to bite them in the ass. Who could have foreseen it?
To to spackle over the growing holes in the depth chart, the Cowboys brought in a few low-end free agents like Anthony Barr, James Washington, and Dante Fowler. They also drafted edge rusher Sam Williams in the second round in April. FUN FACT about Williams: Ole Miss suspended him for an entire season once after he got charged with sexual battery. Let’s see if he’s learned his lesson!
“Obviously I didn’t do anything. Now, it’s a new life, just a new start for me. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most, a new start in a new area with great coaches, great teammates and my family.”
Awww, so good to hear. The Cowboys had to replace Gregory, but it turns out that what they REALLY wanted was to replace Greg Hardy instead. But why does this team need their players to be a threat to women when their front office does that job every year?
The Dallas Cowboys paid a confidential settlement of $2.4 million after four members of their iconic cheerleading squad accused a senior team executive of voyeurism in their locker room as they undressed during a 2015 event at AT&T Stadium, according to documents obtained by ESPN and people with knowledge of the situation.
Did the Cowboys allow that executive to quietly retire before that story broke? I think you know how Jerry Jones operates by now, eh? In fact, this offseason, the Double J officially cemented his title as the Vince McMahon of the NFL by dealing out some hush money on his own behalf.
Jerry Jones has paid nearly $3 million to the woman who says she is his biological daughter, including her full tuition at SMU and a $70,000 Range Rover on her 16th birthday, and to her mother, according to the Little Rock, Arkansas, lawyer who delivered the payments on behalf of the Dallas Cowboys owner.
This is the deal when you’re a billionaire. You will always have enough money on hand to pay any problem to go away. And once you’ve paid off the people you need to pay off, you’re still a billionaire. Now isn’t that fun and cool? Jerry Jones can make any amount of settlement money back with one decent day on the stock market. It’s nothing to him, just as people themselves are.
Tyron Smith is already lost for the season. Micah Parsons doesn’t understand how chess works.
What has always sucked: This team keeps drafting incredible players year after year and what do they have to show for it? DICK, that’s what. Any other team that drafted the likes of Prescott and CeeDee Lamb and Parsons would have a couple of Super Bowls already. But the only trophies these Cowboys have—and ever will have—are from so long ago that they might as well have been buried alongside King Tut.
Speaking of fossils, how ‘bout these fans?
All of you are as crass and stupid as your owner. I know you’re all like, JERRY IS THE PROBLEM HERE! but no. I don’t think so. I think Jerry is less your curse than he is your avatar. I know because I’ve seen Cowboys fans, who never miss a chance to talk on speakerphone while out in public. You people are not misrepresented by Cowboys ownership. Quite the contrary. Cowboys fans are obvious (“As a Cowboys fan,” they begin while ordering a hamburger), loud, and stupid. I can see your stupid coming from a mile away. You got the owner and the coach you deserve, you paint-eaters. Even if Jerry dies, nothing will change. And do you know why? Because all of you will still be here to fuck everything up anyway.
Arlington is a 25-square mile parking lot with three stadiums and one Hooters.
Ratto says: The deterioration of the NFC East has made the deterioration of general manager Jerry Jones less noticeable, and Mike McCarthy may succeed despite the assumption that he is mostly a series of Russian dolls placed inside each other. Of course, success is not necessarily winning a Super Bowl because, in Dallas, the bar is set with the knowledge that it is never to be met. Nobody was particularly shocked that this team that averaged four touchdowns per game but could barely manage two in the playoffs. Because nothing shocks us when it comes to the Cowboys’ touch for the loudly mediocre.
What might not suck: Parsons is the rare Cowboys defender whom, when Cris Collinsworth fawns over them for the entirety of a Sunday Night broadcast, he’s right to. A fucking amazing player. I hope he demands a trade to the Rams.
HEAR IT FROM COWBOYS FANS!
Twenty-six years ago, there was a wonderful episode of The Simpsons called “You Only Move Twice,” where Homer mentions his lifelong dream to own the Cowboys. At the end of the episode, he’s saddened to see he’s been gifted the Broncos instead. Since that episode aired, the Broncos have won three Super Bowls and the Cowboys have won zero.
Jerry Jones ran a red light and t-boned some poor asshole.
Our answer to losing in the early playoff rounds again and again, for over two decades, was to do jack shit in free agency.
I have a friend who is a Lions fan. I have watched his optimism flourish the last two years, and it is infectious, so much so that I am wondering if I am now a Lions fan. The Cowboys haven’t offered me that kind of optimism in a long time.
This year’s draft day Jamboroo on the importance of wide receivers was spot-the-fuck-on, which made it excruciating to read immediately after Jerry traded Amari Cooper for six gummi bears and some scotch. You could talk yourself into the front office having made savvy cap moves until you remember we’re paying Zeke Elliott (washed) and Jaylon Smith (unemployed) more than Cooper. Fuck us.
Because we both peaked in 1996.
Because without this shitty team, I would have nothing else to talk about with my dad.
Because I have “quit” football after Greg Hardy, and after Jerry Jones half-kneel for BLM, but yet I start of every season shout “WE DEM BOYZ.”
Because I ironically think Dez Bryant caught that ball.
Because Jerry Jones will outlive my family and me.
Because I grew up in El Paso.
Because no matter how many times Jerry embarrasses himself, the dimwits of the DFW will sell out his stadium.
God can do us all a favor and abort the state of Texas. Fuck Greg Abbott, double fuck Ted Cruz, and fuck TexMex food.
Jerry Jones’s age has been a punchline as long as I remember, but he’s younger than the sitting president by over a month. I turn 40 in 2 months putting both of them almost exactly twice as old as me, and yet I’m completely confident that both will outlive me. Jones will make every meaningful decision for this team for another two decades and we’ll never see the NFC championship game. He’ll never let Dan Snyder sell so that there will always be someone more evil and worse at their job hanging around the league. Stephen Jones was supposed to be the younger and more mature decision maker, but he’s allergic to paying players what their worth and spends his time trying to think of ways to sell jerseys that say “CAP SPACE” on the back.
It’s January 28th, 1996. Super Bowl 30, Steelers/Cowboys. I’m not quite nine years old, and the one thing I remember most vividly was the big, silver plastic novelty helmet for serving chips & dip at a viewing party. Memory as a child is obviously rather unreliable, but I definitely remember it seeming like it was two or three times bigger than an actual helmet, capable of holding at least a full bag of tortilla chips. Without even really knowing anything about football at the time, let alone the Cowboys dominance of the ’90s to that point, I definitely felt a vague sensation of surety about being born into Cowboys fandom from that huge novelty helmet. “They probably only make these for the very best teams!” I thought
My dad died two weeks after that game, and the Cowboys rocketed into the darkest recesses of mediocrity for years. Spiritually they’ve never really returned. I never saw that helmet again.
I lived in Dallas in the 1990’s (hence this idiotic fandom) when Frisco was full of horse pens for the rich folks who lived in Highland Park. They never rode these animals, who lived better than 80% of South Dallas humans, mind you. It was pure prestige.
The Cowboys are not a franchise trying to win a Super Bowl. The Cowboys are a marketing engine grifting dumbass fans. We are no better than the fucking Commanders.
The Cowboys haven’t won shit in most human being’s adult lifetime. They are one Dak Prescott injury away from 5-12. Fuck this toxic ass irrelevant marketing team and all of their alleged fans who just think they’re cool because First Take insists upon discussing them.
I will forever chase the feeling I got sitting in our dilapidated living room watching Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith run roughshod over the entire league.
Jerry Jones is a slightly more charismatic Trump, and yet I support his ramshackle-ass vanity project.
The Cowboys haven’t won the Super Bowl since 1995 and yet are still treated like the super villains of the NFL. I love them. God help me.
Jerry Jones is gonna live to be 184 years old as one of those science fiction heads in a jar. Despite the fact the Earth will be a smoldering husk, JJ will somehow trot out a mediocre team of cyborgs with a 10-10 record that breaks the three hearts of all their mutant fans.
Jerry Jones will never die.
They traded Amari Cooper for peanuts after failson-in-chief Stephen crowed to the high heavens that they were gonna cut amari, only to see his deal become more reasonable the second Christian Kirk got WR1 money, and every other team that didn’t want to pay their own receiver got a first rounder for them.
The only reason they had to get rid of Cooper in the first place is that, as usual, their cap is a bloated mess for entirely preventable reasons. They paid Ezekiel Elliott a bounty two years before his contract was up while he was already showing noticeable signs of decline. They refused to pay the franchise QB until his cost had ballooned to astronomical proportions. The o-line that used to be the lifeblood of the team now consists primarily of Zack Martin and 12 games of Tyron Smith when his back isn’t fucked.
There are no heroes, only fools who harbor hope that this team might ever advance past the first round of the playoffs.
Last November, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I drove three hours to Kansas City to see my Cowboys play the Chiefs. For the low, low price of $400 dollars, I was treated to the following:
– Sitting in the absolute furthest back row in all of Arrowhead.
– Amari Cooper missing the game due to COVID, and presumably also to a shoulder injury sustained from patting himself on the back for being smart enough to not get vaccinated.
– CeeDee Lamb going up for a TD catch, only to drop it and then slam his head to the turf, ending his day at halftime.
– The Cowboys kicking three field goals and scoring zero touchdowns, ultimately losing 19-9.
– Hearing about 900 “Thank you Troops” messages, one of which mentioned Biden, which prompted several “LET’S GO BRANDONS” near me.
– Being seated next to the loudest, most insufferable man on the planet who spent the entire game kicking the seats in front of him and screaming at the top of his lungs such gems as “I THOUGHT THIS WAS THE NUMBER ONE OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE! WHERE’S THE NUMBER ONE OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE TODAY?”
Two months later, when the Chiefs lost in the AFC Championship game, all I could think about was that insufferable asshole next to me at the game, and how at that very moment he had been owned.
But Drew, and dear Defector readers, it is truly I who was owned. Because that asshole roots for a team that actually wins things. Because I spent $400 to watch my team who never wins anything. Because my team will always make the wrong decision, will always hire an ineffectual coach, and will always mess up a crucial late-game moment. They will always disappoint me, and I will never stop wanting them to win. That is why I am owned.
P.S. Fuck Black Rifle Coffee.
I wanted to submit an update about the three brothers from WYTS last year. A recap: three brothers, all from a wealthy powerful family in a Dallas suburb. All Dallas Cowboys fans, to an irrationally diehard level. Multiple jerseys for every great player, season tickets, etc.
Brother #1 became relatively famous in our small town for waiting until girls were drunk, asking to borrow their phone, scouring that phone for naked pictures, sending the pictures to his phone, and then showing people after the fact, pretending that they had done sex.
Brother #2 used to get into lively debates in class, one of which centered around his belief that the downfall of civilization was directly related to women putting men in the friend zone.
Brother #3 used to drive around the wealthiest neighborhood in Dallas, stopping at gas stations, rifling through the small wastebasket near the ATM looking for a ledger receipt with a large balance, and leaving those receipts in his car in hopes a girl would find them (he no longer has his own money, got cut off after a drug charge).
There is a fourth brother. He is technically a half-brother, a bit older, and not necessarily as well known as the others for his bothersome behavior. He owns a very popular new restaurant/bar/nightclub in a trendy area. Recently, we had a very popular artist stop through for a concert. There was a server who worked at his spot and was a huge fan of this artist. Brother #4 had been making overtures towards this girl, trying to get her to sleep with him, or at least hang out with him after hours. She shot him down repeatedly. One night he finally gets a little bit more brazen, and she serves him a very firm and hilarious denial in front of patrons, employees… everyone.
Two nights later, the artist who is in town stops through for a meal with some of his crew. This gathering was held in a private room, accessible only by one door. The brother made sure that every employee who was on shift that night got to pop in for a little bit to get an autograph with the artist, or take a photo, or just make small talk. With one notable exception: The girl who had just rejected him. She who was a really big fan of this artist. Literally every employee got to go into that room except for her.
When the previous season ends, usually in the dumbest way possible, I immediately tell myself I will no longer buy in. I spend the following 8+ months thinking this way, brooding over the horrific end to the prior year: mad at Jerry Jones, mad at my dad for moving us to Texas as a young child (like it was his decision), mad at myself for continuing to watch this stupid team.
And then September rolls around, Dak and the offense roll, I praise Kellen Moore as the best OC in football, and slowly talk myself into this finally being the year they are able to win a Super Bowl again. Hell, just make one!
Meanwhile, the inevitable losses happen in December and January and I’m reminded, in my mid-30s, that the Cowboys haven’t even made an NFC Championship Game since I was seven years old. I couldn’t stop laughing at the end of the Mike McCarthy era in Green Bay and here I am thinking he could actually win a Super Bowl. I hate this team and I hate myself.
This is definitely their year. Go Cowboys.
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