Staubach: Cowboys are close to contending

Staubach: Cowboys are close to contending

Published Jan. 17, 2012 6:38 p.m. ET

The Dallas Cowboys are close to being a Super Bowl contender. None other than Roger Staubach said so.

Let's hope Jerry Jones wasn't listening.

Staubach, the legendary Cowboys quarterback, told The Dallas Morning News that the Cowboys are "headed in the right direction" and referred to Tony Romo as a "franchise quarterback."

Staubach, who has always been loyal to his former team, made his comments Monday night during a 40th reunion of the 1971 Cowboys who won Super Bowl VI.

The Hall of Famer also praised the work of coach Jason Garrett, who was himself a former Cowboys quarterback.

"I think he has the team prepared very well," Staubach said. "It's just a matter of everybody clicking."

The 1971 Cowboys were famous for finally winning the big one and shedding the franchise's nickname of "Next Year's Champions."

Staubach told The News the current Cowboys are in a similar situation as a team looking to get over the hump.

"It's just getting that little extra effort," Staubach said. "And getting a little bit lucky, too."

Staubach's teammate on that Super Bowl team, Dan Reeves, echoed those statements to the newspaper.

"They're close," Reeves said. "I know they are one of the teams that has a chance every year."

In addition to playing in two Super Bowls with the Cowboys, Reeves coached the Denver Broncos to three Super Bowls and the Atlanta Falcons to one.

He pointed to the fact the Cowboys were still playing for the NFC East title and a playoff spot going into the final regular season game against the New York Giants.

"I really felt whoever won in the Dallas-New York game had a chance to go far in the playoffs," Reeves said. "Unfortunately, they lost it…There is so little difference. There's a play here or a play there."

Except that the Cowboys weren't even close to the Giants in that game. They lost, 31-14, after trailing 21-0 at halftime.

Not to disagree with any Cowboys legend, but loyalty to the franchise may have them painting a rosier picture than reality. The truth is the 8-8 Cowboys really weren't as close to winning the division, much less a playoff game, as the schedule made it out to be.

In their first meeting with the Giants, a 37-34 loss, the Cowboys melted down in the final 5:41 and blew a 12-point lead.

The score was close, but it hardly makes them equals. The Giants proved they can put it together in crunch time to pull out a game. The Cowboys only proved their doubters right.
Not only that, the Cowboys actually finished third in the division behind the Eagles, who thumped them twice.

This is where it's dangerous for owner Jerry Jones to hear this kind of talk. Jones, ever the optimist and salesman, might believe the Cowboys really are close to going to a Super Bowl.

Teams that are close to winning championships don't make bold moves to improve the squad. The Cowboys, with leaks spouting in the offensive line and all over the defense, need bold moves.

Comparisons to the 1971 Cowboys don't help.

Those Cowboys had a star-studded roster dotted with future Hall of Famers. Not only that, they were much, much closer to winning it all than the current Cowboys.

The 1971 Cowboys had lost a Super Bowl the year before, a controversial one at that. The core group had also lost back-to-back NFL Championships to the Green Bay Packers, who went on to win the first two Super Bowls.

The current Cowboys aren't even close to being the champions-in-waiting that the 1971 Cowboys were.

Once in a while, it's therapeutic to get all misty-eyed with nostalgia. Just don't let it blur your vision of the present.

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire