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Twin franchises: San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys

Twin franchises or is that just an illusion? Our Texas correspondent looks at how the Cowboys and Chargers have been teams with similar issues over the last few seasons. The similarities are usually sources of despair to their respective fan bases.

Tom Pennington

One of the drawbacks of living in North Texas is the All Cowboys All The Time sports reporting that happens on every sports talk radio station that is based here. I listen to a lot of sports radio, so I know entirely too much about the Cowboys than I would prefer. Being active on this site and other glorious parts of the internet, plus the magnificence that is the NFL Sunday Ticket package means I also get to stay on top of my beloved Bolts.

Over the last few years and especially last year, I can’t help but notice that the team I am forced to know a lot about and the team that I love seem to have similar issues. If you don’t believe me, read on…

The 2012 Offensive Lines

As if I did not see enough and read enough on BFTB about how awful the Bolts O-line was last season, I had to hear about how bad the Cowboys was when I was driving around Dallas last year. Much as the Bolts had a couple of bright spots in Hardwick and Vasquez, the Cowboys had a bright spot in Tyron Smith, their 2011 1st round pick. As the Bolts had despair at both Tackle positions, the Cowboys suffered through an interior line of Nate Livings, Ryan Cook, and Mackenzy Bernadeau.

The Cowboys line issues led to underperformance; an offense that finished 2012 6th in yards, but 15th in scoring. The Bolts offensive line issues led to disaster, with the team finishing 31st in the league in offensive yards and 20th in scoring. The state of both franchises O-Lines resulted in 1st round picks being expended on this unit in the most recent draft. The Cowboys spent their first round pick on a center, which got the North Texas fan base really hot and bothered about…

A Sketchy GM / Front Office Situation

Last year, perhaps the only team in the league that could compete with the Cowboys GM in terms of inflated self-opinion, ego, and paying the price for a few years of questionable drafting and coaching decisions was the Chargers. The difference between those situations is a HUGE difference between the teams, as Jerry Jones is unlikely to fire himself no matter how many people believe his GM skills have eroded. The Bolts were able to get rid of their declining GM. But getting back to the similarities, both the Bolts and Cowboys have:

A QB That Drives Their Fans Nuts Sometimes

The comparisons between Romo and Rivers have been made elsewhere and they are real. Both QB’s possess franchise QB skills, but have had a knack in their careers for making fans crazy (and not in a good way). Romo drew the ire of Cowboy fans in 2007 by botching a hold on an extra point, costing his team a playoff win. The big story recently for both QB’s has been interceptions.

Tony Romo threw 19 INT’s last season, and PR threw 15. The nature of the INT’s was especially maddening to the teams’ fans. Whether it was a Pick 6 by PR against TB or Romo throwing an INT on a screen pass against the Redskins in the last game of the year to cost the Cowboys the NFC East title and keep them out of the playoffs again, both QB’s have drawn heat from their fans in recent seasons. Of course, it does not help fan happiness with the QB or anything else when

The Team Has Not Made the Playoffs since 2009

The Cowboys have a combined record of 22-26 from 2010 through 2012. The playoff drought cost Wade Phillips his job as head coach before it even really started, way back in 2010. The Bolts had a 24-24 record in those three seasons and the drought had to go on for a while to get Norv Turner fired. The Cowboys 8-8 record last year did put Jason Garrett firmly on the hot seat and it was somewhat surprising to some that Jerry Jones brought him back. For Garrett and McCoy to get their teams back into the playoffs though, they are going to need better defenses, better QB play, and

A Running Back That Can Actually Perform Consistently

Both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews have struggled with injuries, substandard offensive lines, systems that emphasize the pass over the run, and a perception of underachievement since joining their teams. While Murray has not had to deal with the pressure of replacing a legend or living up to a first round selection, his heath since 2011 has made Mathews look like an Iron Man in those seasons. Murray has yet to start more than 10 games in one season or rush for 1,000 yards; Mathews has accomplished both feats in a career that is one year longer than Murray’s.

So, no matter where I have gone to stay informed about football for the last couple of years, I have heard or read the same things about the teams that are right in front of me. One team’s news is put in my face if I turn on a sports talk station where I live and the other team I follow over the net and any other media I can get to.

This is the one week every four years that my Sunday Ticket payment is mostly wasted. But at least for the other 63 games the Bolts play in a four year cycle, I don’t have to watch the Cowboys on Sundays. Money well spent.