Looks like the ghosts of Football Seasons Past are going to visit me as a Dallas Cowboys fan again this year.
Another year and another winner-take-all showdown with an NFC East rival.
But the hardest thing about this as a lifelong Cowboys fan who learned to draw a blue star on a piece of paper before he could even read is that it didn’t have to happen.
Yes, the Cowboys may win, like they did against Philadelphia in 2009, or they may lose, like they did last year in Washington, but it was completely avoidable.
Fans can blame Jason Garrett or Tony Romo, although heaven knows he’s saved Dallas’ bacon on multiple occasions, but that will be misplaced.
The Grinch who stole the Cowboys season is owner Jerry Jones.
The team that was put together by Jones, promoted by Jones and takes on the flashy personality of Jones.
But flash doesn’t win football games down the stretch.
Regardless of what happens on Sunday, the Cowboys will either miss the postseason again or barely squeak in and lose in the first round because of Jones — and some close losses earlier in the season.
The defense that Jones put together allowed Alex Smith to throw for 223 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 17-16 loss to Kansas City in Week 2.
The offense that Jones put together didn’t score in the second half in a 30-21 loss at San Diego.
Monte Kiffin, the defensive coordinator that Jones hired to replace Rob Ryan, had a defense that allowed Peyton Manning to convert 9 of 13 on third down, let Detroit score 31 points in the fourth quarter and blew a 26-3 lead to Green Bay.
Those teams won at Jones’ Taj Mahal in Arlington.
As a fan, I will let close road losses go, but the Jones’ Cowboys blew three games at AT&T Stadium. That’s the difference between fighting for a first-round bye and fighting to get in.
The optimist in me wants to point out that the Cowboys have already beaten the Eagles in Philly this year and were in a similar position in 2009 when they beat the Eagles at home 24-0, then ended the Donovan McNabb Era with a 34-14 win in the first round of the playoffs.
But those Cowboys had Romo and these Eagles have a completely different quarterback in Nick Foles.
Foles was horrible in the loss to Dallas, completing 11 of 29 passes for 80 yards and had a quarterback rating of 7.5. That’s barely above Vince Young’s Wonderlic score.
But Foles has helped the Eagles win six of their last seven while averaging 295 yards per game and throwing 25 touchdowns to only two interceptions.
Couple that with Dallas’ inexplicable ability to go away from DeMarco Murray when he’s on a roll and it will most likely lead to a long night in Big D.
In short, Jerry Jones is the NFL version of Lennie from “Of Mice and Men.” He loves the Cowboys so much and is holding it so tight that he’s squeezing the life out of the once championship franchise.