Dallas Cowboys falling farther behind

SAN ANTONIO -- When Dallas ruled the NFL in the early '90s, it seemed inconceivable that the Cowboys wouldn't always be Dallas/Fort Worth's best sports organization.

No more.

The Mavs have surpassed them. So, too, have the Rangers.

These days, the Cowboys are our city's third-best organization, and the gap between the Cowboys and the Mavs and Rangers isn't closing any time soon.

For more than 30 years, the Cowboys were the NFL's model organization, so Dallas' tumble from its spot atop D/FW franchises is a new phenomenon.

It certainly doesn't have to remain this way.

See, this is not about the Cowboys' five Super Bowl titles. Or having a legion of Hall of Fame players. And it has nothing to do with the franchise's popularity or worth.

This is about right now.


The Cowboys are 88-88 in the new millennium. The New York Giants are 98-78, and the Philadelphia Eagles 113-63.

Those in denial will argue that the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl and the Giants have just one title. The reality is that those teams are contenders most seasons, combining for 14 10-win seasons since 2000; the Cowboys have had three.

Dallas, which has just one playoff victory since 1996, has had four coaches since 2000. Only rag-tag teams such as Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco and Oakland have had more.

That's on Jerry. He's never going to give up his general manager duties, so he must perform better.

"We're disappointed," vice president Stephen Jones said of the club's .500 record since 2000. "We hold ourselves to a high standard. We want to win championships. It doesn't take someone else winning one to make us want to win."

The Mavs have 11 consecutive 50-win seasons and won their first NBA title in June with owner Mark Cuban, GM Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle all contributing to their success.

The Rangers, irrelevant for most of their first four decades in Texas, advanced to the World Series last year. They didn't win it, but CEO Nolan Ryan gives the organization legitimacy, and owners Bob Simpson and Ray Davis provide the big money for signings.

Jon Daniels has made national and international scouting the franchise's foundation because the Rangers believe in player development. Their minor league system, one of baseball's best, is why the Rangers could acquire coveted relief pitchers Koji Uehara and Mike Adams without parting with Martin Perez, their top pitching prospect.

While Daniels goes out and gets exactly what his club needs and wants, your Cowboys still don't have their starting safeties on the roster nine days before their first preseason game.

The best organizations have clear-cut organizational philosophies of offense, defense and player acquisition. Ultimately, organizations win -- not players and coaches. Strong organizations consistently hire the best coaches and scouts. Good organizations can have a down year or two, but quickly return to prominence.

The Mavs and Rangers know exactly what they want when it comes to acquiring players.

Your Cowboys? Their plans come and go. All you have to do is look at their offseason approach.

The Cowboys wanted to keep Stephen Bowen and let Marcus Spears go, but they underestimated how much money Bowen would command as an unrestricted free agent, so they didn't come close to retaining him. Then they gave Spears, a guy they didn't really want, a five-year, $19 million deal because Igor Olshansky was the only defensive end on the roster.

And then there's the Nnamdi Asomugha situation.

First, the Cowboys weren't interested in Asomugha, the top free agent available. Then Dallas found itself in a bidding war with the New York Jets for Asomugha before Philadelphia swooped in and signed him.

If the Cowboys had signed Asomugha, they would have released Terence Newman. Now, Newman knows all that rhetoric about how much the organization loves him, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick is just that -- empty talk.

The problem, of course, is that the Cowboys needed a couple of safeties and a defensive end more than they ever needed whatever Nnamdi would have given them.

No wonder the Cowboys organization has fallen behind the Mavs and Rangers.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.