After carefully watching the Dallas Cowboys for the entire season, the good news is that the team appears more than able to accommodate the two lobbying groups views on The Tanking Crisis.
We must rise above reacting to the chaotic final minutes of the Cowboys’ 19-16 win against the Washington Redskins on Monday night and acknowledge that for the Cowboys, the most exciting part of the 2015 NFL season will ultimately be the 2016 NFL Draft.
Despite what the math says, which is the Cowboys are “still in it,” the outcome of Monday night’s thrilling battle of the field goal kickers, of epic stupidity, and just how defiantly wretched the NFC East remains, an entity more powerful than Jerry Jones’ wallet decided months ago it was not to be for the Dallas Cowboys this season.
It’s not a damn debate, guys.
From the sake of your emotional well being, it’s best to accept that Santa Claus is real but the playoffs for this team this season are not. This is a case of prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and just avoid the tank. This is still a 4-8 team in need of perfection with a backup quarterback to even have a chance.
I’ve changed my mind on this subject because tanking in the NFL is not like the NBA. There is no Andrew Luck worth sucking for in next year’s college draft class. Tanking for Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa — “Blow For Bosa” — is not worth the risk. There is no quarterback worth drafting and sitting behind Tony Romo for “the next four to five years.”
The Cowboys are better off just doing what they did on Monday night, no matter how dog-butt ugly it looked.
“We’re one game out of it,” Cowboys defensive back Morris Claiborne said after the game. “It doesn’t feel like it the way the season has been but we’re one game out of it. Basically, where we are is just think about one day. You can’t think about anything else.”
He is right. The Cowboys are just one game out for first place in the NFC East, but absolutely nothing other than an outbreak of the plague in New York City and Philadelphia says they are good enough to win the division to make the playoffs.
But for those that prefer tanking over trying, chances are good the Cowboys will end up with a draft pick in the teens; as long as they wind up with a pick in the top 15 to 18, they’re fine. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was the 11th overall pick; Cowboys’ all-pro offensive tackle Tyron Smith was the ninth overall pick; Cowboys’ Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick was the 31st pick.
Claiborne? He was the sixth pick overall, and watching him give up the game-tying touchdown to the night’s previous goat DeSean Jackson is a reminder that tanking for a high pick is not worth the risk. Just look at the Redskins’ sidelines to see how reliable a high pick is — Baylor great Robert Griffin III is a third stringer behind current Redskins’ spare starter Kirk Cousins.
Even if “tanking it” was the best option, this is a Jason Garrett coached team.
Coach Process may drive you nuts with his 90-degree creativity, curious clock management and answers that dry paint, but on his watch the Cowboys do not roll over the way they did under Uncle Wade, or even Bill Parcells. Garrett, nor Jerry, would ever sponsor a Tanking Campaign.
Garrett’s greatest strength as a coach is an antidote to a Tank Campaign — they don’t quit, even if sometimes they should.
It was quite fun to watch a Cowboys team celebrate a win the type of game that has eluded them all but once this season. This team deserved the win over the Redskins, no matter how horrid it looked to watch or to play.
Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson’s bungled and fumbled punt return late in the game is the type of break the Cowboys have not had since the New York Giants’ brain dead clock management in Week 1 that allowed the Cowboys to notch one of their four precious wins of the season.
Of course, the Cowboys tried to return that favor of stupidity but kicker Dan Bailed Them Out saved all of their butts — lookin’ at you, Morris Claiborne — with his game-winning 54-yard field goal in the final seconds.
The Cowboys don’t have to tank it, to mail it in, or even quit in order to move up to the top of draft. That will take care of itself. With Matt Cassel slingin’ it sideways, a running game that consistently underwhelms, and a defense that can’t force turnovers, the team won’t have to go out of its way to earn a high pick.
The team is better off just to keep trying and to follow Coach Process’ creed to play hard and try to win.
There will be no playoffs, there will be no tanking, but you won’t know the difference when they still land a good draft pick.
It’s not a damn debate.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.
Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof