Dallas far from championship caliber

IRVING, Texas -- The NFL conference title games showed us the Dallas Cowboys aren't close to being a championship-caliber team.

Of course that wouldn't be so bad if you had confidence the Cowboys could draft the right players, sign the proper free agents or properly evaluate their own talent, considering they signed Gerald Sensabaugh to a five-year deal in December.

All of this means you have no idea when the Cowboys' era of mediocrity will end since we're at 15 years and counting.

Right now, among the four major pro teams in Dallas-Fort Worth, the Cowboys have the worst organization.

Blasphemous, I know, but it's true.

We all know the Mavs and Rangers have surpassed the Cowboys as organizations the past few years, even though the Cowboys remain one of the nation's most popular franchises.

After all, the Mavs have 11 consecutive 50-win seasons and won their first NBA title last summer. The Rangers have played in consecutive World Series and last fall came within one strike -- twice -- of winning their first title.

And then there are the Stars.

They might not even make the playoffs this season, but Joe Nieuwendyk has a vision and a plan to make the Stars a contender again, especially now that the club has an owner.

He has made difficult decisions, such as getting rid of Mike Modano and Marty Turco, and put together a team with an identity -- they're a scrappy, hard-nosed club -- without the benefit of an owner. Now, he has an owner and cap space, some of which he used Monday to sign defenseman Alex Goligoski to a four-year, $18.4-million extension.

Winning has nothing to do with luck.

Organizations win.

Coaches come and go. So do players. Organizations remain the one constant.

Those that have stability and clearly defined duties for those in the organizational flowchart thrive because winning is about talent evaluation whether we're talking about the draft, free agency or trades.

Look at any organization, regardless of sport, that has been a consistent winner and they're all the same: They have steady ownership and a front office that, for the most part, doesn't fire the coach every time there's a rough patch.

The Lakers. The Spurs. The Yankees. The Red Wings. The Patriots. The Steelers. Manchester United.

They're all the same.

The Cowboys used to be one of sports' best organizations.

From 1966 to 1996, the Cowboys had 26 winning seasons, including 20 consecutive from 1966-85. After the NFL and AFL merged in 1970, the Cowboys played in 10 of the first 13 NFC Championship Games.

In the Cowboys' first 38 seasons, they had only three coaches -- Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer.

Since 1998, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has employed five coaches.

It shows.

The Detroit Lions are the only NFC team with fewer playoff wins than the Cowboys in that span, and they're a team on the rise with 10 wins this season.

Just so you know, 13 teams have appeared in the NFC Championship Game since the Cowboys' last appearance. Eleven have made multiple appearances.

All Jerry has to do is look within his own division to see how a smart organization runs.

Since 1997, the Giants have had two coaches, seven 10-win seasons and been to three NFC Championship games and Super Bowls. In the same time, the Eagles have had two coaches, eight 10-win seasons, five championship game appearances and one trip to the Super Bowl.

The Cowboys have four 10-win seasons since 1997, and have not made an appearance in the NFC Championship Game since the 1995 season.

Jerry doesn't help himself when he makes statements like he did Monday afternoon, when he said the only difference between the Giants and the Cowboys is Eli Manning.

Jerry needs a reality check.

Look at the Giants' defensive line, the toughness and attention to detail coach Tom Coughlin demands and their organizational stability. Add Manning to all of that and you have a club playing for its second championship since 2007.

One day, Jerry will get it.


Before Mark Cuban bought the Mavs, they won 40 percent of their games. Since then, they've had 11 consecutive 50-win seasons, just three coaches and one general manager.

Since Tom Hicks hired Jon Daniels in 2006, the Rangers have had three winning seasons and won four playoff series after winning just one playoff game in the franchise's first 38 seasons in Texas.

With co-owners Ray Davis, Bob Simpson and Nolan Ryan running the team, you know the front office will be slow to change. Remember, this is the same management group that kept Ron Washington after his cocaine dalliance a couple of years ago.

Jerry has wrecked a once-proud franchise. Like the Rangers, a quick fix doesn't exist.

Jerry needs to quit gambling on talented, high-risk players such as Dez Bryant. He needs to stop drafting injured players in the second round and giving them a redshirt season. And he needs to show his head coach patience.

It's the only way the glory days will return.

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