Dear Jerry Jones,
You were right.
All of us.
The Dallas Cowboys owner is probably still smiling all these hours later. Surrounded by his inner circle, perhaps sipping a glass of his favorite whisky or while being chauffeured around town by his driver, Jones is still basking in the afterglow of another “I told you so.”
When everyone was clamoring for a head-coaching change in Dallas, he stood pat, preferring to ride out a storm he was sure would subside. And when everyone crowed about him overpaying for Amari Cooper — “A first-round draft pick?!? — Jones ignored the noise, repeatedly stressing the price was more than worth it.
Well, guess what: He was right.
Jason Garrett was supposed to be gone.
Scott Linehan too.
The Cowboys were supposed to bow out of the NFC East race weeks ago.
And this season was supposed to be beyond saving.
Dallas was done.
That’s what you thought too, right?
Well, shame on us all.
Left for dead weeks ago, the Cowboys confirmed what few thought was possible earlier this season: The NFC East belongs to them. Sunday’s dramatic victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles — capped by Cooper’s 15-yard touchdown catch in overtime — was the proof needed to crown the Cowboys the unofficial division champions.
Surprised? You should be.
Dallas was a train wreck a month ago. Garrett’s job security was a hotly debated topic with each mounting loss. And Jones was forced to confront whether sweeping changes were needed to salvage this potentially lost season. But rather than make those changes to his coaching staff, Jones instead surrendered a first-round draft pick to Oakland in exchange for a young, talented castoff. And the Cowboys have won five straight games since Cooper’s trade-deadline arrival.
His presence has made all the difference for an offense that desperately needed another scoring option besides running back Ezekiel Elliott (28 carries, 113 yards) and Cooper didn’t disappoint in the 29-23 overtime victory over Philly: 10 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
His third score of the night was the game-changer, a deflected Dak Prescott pass that he plucked from the air before scampering into the end zone for the walk-off winner with 1:55 left in overtime.
It was a lucky bounce for a Cowboys team that has tried in recent weeks to convince us all they shouldn’t be overlooked. And now, the team that stymied the New Orleans Saints in prime time expects to finish strong against the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants.
Fans will argue whether Garrett keeping his job past this season is a good thing, but that’s a debate for another day. Right now, the Cowboys have every reason to believe they can make some noise in the playoffs.
The Cowboys, of course, are far from perfect. Inconsistent offensive line play and Prescott’s decision-making are cause for concern at times. But every time you want to dismiss them, every time you want to write off Prescott, every time you think their defense can’t get another stop, Dallas defies the limits of your expectations.
“It just seems like right now, we won’t back down,” said Elliott, who also caught 12 passes for 79 yards. “We want to step up to every challenge we get.”
Doubt Dallas if you like.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
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