Now that the Dallas Cowboys are what the Vikings thought they would be a couple of months ago, it’s time for the Wilfs and Chris Spielman’s brother to take notes on how America’s Team became America’s Best Team For Now.
1. Gotta have an attention-seeking owner. You want one who once blew up one potential dynasty, then seeks pliable coaches and loves the spotlight so much his performance-enhancing drug of choice just may be Botox.
2. Draft a running back high in the first round. The Cowboys spent the fourth pick in the draft on Ezekiel Elliott, a rare talent who has defied the precedent set by Laurence Maroney, Felix Jones, Ron Dayne and Trent Richardson.
The Broncos won the last Super Bowl with a back, C.J. Anderson, who went undrafted, and Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs won Super Bowls with whichever back showed up for meetings on time. The Vikings spent a high pick on Adrian Peterson and have won one playoff game with him on the roster — when Brett Favre beat the Cowboys in 2009.
3. Replace your franchise quarterback with a fourth-round draft pick who was considered a project.
The Vikings have employed three first-round quarterbacks since 2012 — Christian Ponder, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. Dak Prescott is outperforming them all because, sure, the Cowboys knew he would. That’s why they waited until the fourth round to take him.
4. Get a diva wide receiver.
Old-schoolers might prefer the Art Monk or Paul Warfield type, a classy, professional receiver who draws little attention to himself.
New-schoolers might prefer Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas or the non-twerking version of Antonio Brown — all productive professionals.
But having a DVR — a diva receiver — is so much more interesting. Bryant might throw a tantrum at any time, although at least he has yet to assault, or propose to, a kicking net.
5. Celebrate nepotism.
The Cowboys’ owner is named Jones. By some strange coincidence, there are people named Jones working for the Cowboys as executive vice president, CEO and director of player personnel. And that’s just Jerry’s son Stephen.
The Wilfs are not in Jones’ league when it comes to employing relatives in key positions. Zygi owns the team, Mark is president and co-owner, but the Wilfs have left football decisions to Rick Spielman and his staff.
6. Waste money and time on bad guys.
Last year, the Cowboys signed Greg Hardy, who was found guilty by a judge of assaulting and threatening his girlfriend. Hardy didn’t make the Cowboys winners on the field and did make them losers in the arena of life.
7. Hire a soft head coach.
Jason Garrett coddles players, most notably Bryant. In a completely unrelated development, Bryant continues to throw tantrums.
Here’s a non-satirical point about the Cowboys becoming the NFL’s best team for the moment: Sports don’t always make sense.
When a team wins, we rush to give them the credit they “deserve,” but sometimes success is a function of luck that is not necessarily the residue of design.
Give the Cowboys credit for drafting Prescott in the fourth round? As was the case with the 49ers and Joe Montana and the Patriots and Tom Brady, if you know there is a great quarterback available in the draft and you give 31 other teams multiple chances to take him, you’re not shrewd. You just didn’t misjudge him as badly as the competition.
Give the Cowboys credit for taking Elliott, while realizing that the conventional wisdom warning against taking a running back high in the first round is usually pretty wise.
Want to accurately give the Cowboys credit?
Look to the offensive line.
They have spent three first-round picks on offensive linemen since 2011, building the best line in the game.
You can survive a lot of mistakes if your offensive line turns defenses into crepes.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MalePatternPodcasts.com. On