It was a completely meaningless game. The Eagles were locked in as the 3 seed, having already wrapped up the NFC East. They couldn’t catch the Bears at the 2 seed ahead of them, and weren’t going to be caught by whoever won the awful NFC West. And so they rested the following players (among others that were hurt): Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin (played the first series only), Brent Celek, Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Mike McGlynn, Winston Justice, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon, Juqua Parker, Stewart Bradley, Moise Fokou, Asante Samuel, Quintin Mikell, and Kurt Coleman.
Meanwhile, for the Cowboys, the only meaningful aspect of the game was for interim head coach Jason Garrett to collect as many wins as possible to help him remove the “interim” moniker.
I watched that game from the Eagles press box, and there was so little interest in the game that there were actually toddlers in the press box. That’s not a joke. Were they Eagles employees’ kids enjoying a nice perk? A “Future Eagles Bloggers” group? I don’t know. What I do know is that they were loud, annoying, and had better seats than me… but I don’t want to get into a whole thing there. Anyway, the Cowboys eeked out a 14-13 win on a long drive capped off by a Jason Witten TD with :55 left in the game, earning them a less depressing plane ride home.
I never advocate losing. As Herm Edwards says “You play to win the game.” The Cowboys should have tried to, and did, win that final game. Also, whenever you go back in time, if you so much as step on a bug, you can alter the entire course of history (I know from experience). Obviously, any number of things could have gone differently that could mess up this game of “what if.”
With those caveats in place, I thought it would be fun to play the “What if” game. What if the Cowboys lost that game? There are actually a couple interesting possibilities.
1) The Cowboys would have drafted 6th overall, not the Browns.
Remember the trade the Falcons made with the Browns on draft day?
|Falcons got:||Browns got:|
|6th overall pick (Julio Jones)||27th overall pick|
|59th overall pick|
|124th overall pick|
|2012 1st round pick|
|2012 4th round pick|
(Cont after the jump)…
Knowing now how the draft panned out, the top rated player on the Cowboys’ board here still probably would have been Tyron Smith, seeing as Julio Jones (the 6th pick), Aldon Smith (the 7th pick), and Jake Locker (the 8th pick) didn’t fit any of the Cowboys’ needs. Remember – the Cowboys chose Tyron Smith with the 9th overall pick. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and Browns GM Tom Heckert had that deal worked out prior to the draft, assuming the Falcons’ guy was still sitting there at 6. Would Dimitroff have been on the phone with Jerry Jones instead, and could Jones have worked out as good of a deal as Heckert did?
Assuming the same deal were on the table for the Cowboys, would you rather have the 5 picks… or Tyron Smith? Personally, I think Tyron Smith will be a good pro, but I’d take those 5 picks in half a heartbeat. Check out the NFL draft tracker and have fun playing “what could have been.”
2) Jason Garrett may not have been named the head coach.
Even though that final game was completely meaningless, it would have looked really bad had the Cowboys lost to the Eagles’ scrubs. After taking over for Wade Phillips, Garrett posted a 5-3 record as the interim head coach. On paper, 4-4 looks so much less impressive than 5-3, and going out on a winning note probably did wonders for Jerry Jones’ mental well-being after what must have been an infuriating season for him. I don’t know if Garrett would have been named the head coach anyway – It’s certainly far from a slam dunk. I think most Cowboys fans are comfortable with Garrett as the head coach. Would they be as comfortable with (fill in the blank)?