The Cowboys are mired in the franchise’s longest Super Bowl drought. Dallas added a fifth Lombardi Trophy in 1995 and hasn’t so much as returned to the NFC Championship Game since.
The Cowboys are only 4-11 in the postseason the past 26 seasons.
The “three or four” chances the Cowboys had to contend for the title have given owner Jerry Jones hope. In 2007 and ’16, Dallas had the best record in the NFC only to go one-and-done, and in 2014 they lost to the Packers in the divisional round.
“I can live with the fact that we’ve been closer than the zeros we have in line here over the last years that you’re talking about,” Jones said, via Todd Archer of ESPN. “That sustains me. That’s food for me. That keeps me going. That’s not a loser you’re talking to, though it sounds like it. What you have is somebody that wants to go again and feels like we’ve got the tools to win it. . . . We won 12 games last year. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t get a little bit of feel-good out of those 12 games. I understand where our fans are. They should understand where I am. That’s not enough, but it’s enough to go again.”
Jones turns 80 in October, so his favorite line the past few years has been: “I don’t have time to have a bad time.” He used the line again in the opening training camp news conference Tuesday.
What Jones didn’t repeat was his annual Super Bowl-or-bust mantra. In fact, it almost sounded as if he’s lowered expectations for 2022.
“Well, I need to win it. I need to win it, but I’ll be candid with you, there’s degrees. I want to be fair to everybody concerned,” Jones said. “We need to be in the playoffs. We need to be viable in the playoffs for it to be a successful season.”
Tom Landry was the Cowboys’ head coach for the first 29 seasons of the franchise. Since 1989, when Jones bought the team, the Cowboys have hired eight different head coaches.
Mike McCarthy heads into his third season on what feels like a hot seat, though the coach said Tuesday he does not view his job security as a story. Maybe Jones is looking for a way to keep McCarthy if the Cowboys don’t accomplish a trip to at least the NFC title game.
Who knows what Jones meant by “viable.” Only he knows, and only he will decide McCarthy’s future after the season. The one certainty is McCarthy would keep his job with a championship.
But the Cowboys aren’t among the betting favorites to win Super Bowl LVII, and, on paper, they don’t appear as talented as they were last season when they lost to the 49ers at home in the wild-card round. Amari Cooper, La'el Collins and Randy Gregory are among the roster losses from last season.
So a year from now, Jones could be sitting where he sat Tuesday, repeating the same words he spoke Tuesday.