You would be tempted to think the Dallas Cowboys team that will slink into Philadelphia for their Sunday night match-up against the Eagles is the worst of all-time.
After all, they’re a 2-5 stink pile of refuse that just lost to the 2-5 Washington Football Team 25-3. Their -67 point differential is the worst in the NFC, second only to the pitiful New York Jets’ insane -118. Their starting quarterback, Dak Prescott, is out for the season with a gruesome broken ankle injury suffered two weeks ago, their back-up, Andy Dalton, was leveled by a vicious concussion that none of his teammates seemed interested in avenging, and they will be led by rookie seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci of James Madison University fame.
Their offensive line has one starter remaining, left guard Connor Williams, who was its least productive player entering the season. Their defense is the worst in the NFL. Their linebackers have been in and out of the lineup, they traded free agent acquisition Everson Griffen this week, released DT Dontari Poe and CB Daryl Worley, and they’ve been dominated along the defensive line and secondary.
However, while this Dallas Cowboys team is truly awful, it is not the worst an Eagles team has ever faced.
Tom Landry’s Last Dance (1988)
Just as Eagles coach Buddy Ryan was reviving the Eagles’ fortunes in ‘88, the Cowboys were hitting rock bottom in legendary coach Tom Landry’s final season at the helm. The ‘Boys went 3-13 that season, the worst record in the NFL, and their two games against the Eagles were absolute soul-crushers for Dallas.
In Week 8, the Cowboys jumped out to a 20-0 lead at Veterans Stadium, but the Eagles roared back and scored a touchdown on the final play of the game to win, 24-23.
Then, on the final day of the season, Ryan’s Birds won the NFC East after crushing the Cowboys in Dallas 23-7.
The ‘88 Cowboys suffered a 10-game losing streak, and if I gave you 50 guesses, you wouldn’t be able to come up with the name of their starting QB that season (it was Steve Pelleur). They had one star, running back Herschel Walker, who ran for 1,514 yards and racked up more than 2,000 yards of total offense, Michael Irvin was a rookie who, along with Kelvin Martin, would grow into a dynamic pass-catching force, but was not yet the Pro Bowl player he would become. Linebacker Ken Norton Jr. was drafted in the second round by the team prior to the ‘88 season, and he also showed flashes of the Pro Bowl player he would later become.
After the season, owner Bum Bright sold the team to Jerry Jones, who fired Landry and hired the bombastic Jimmy Johnson to be the team’s next head coach.
Jimmie Johnson’s Rookie Season (1989)
For the fourth year in a row, the Cowboys would miss the playoffs and, in the process, suffered one of the worst seasons by any professional football franchise, a 1-15 nightmare in which Dallas would continue to get humiliated by Buddy Ryan’s Birds.
With the first pick in the 1989 Draft, the Cowboys selected Troy Aikman and immediately made him their starting quarterback. It was ugly. The team began the season 0-8, won their only game against Washington in Week 9, then lost their last seven. Aikman started the first four games but broke a finger in his non-throwing hand and back-up Steve Walsh started the next five, including that Washington game. Aikman returned after that but wasn’t able to post a victory in any of his 11 starts.
The two games against the Eagles were brutal for the Cowboys. They were shut out on Thanksgiving 27-0 in what later became known as The Bounty Bowl. Dallas players accused the Eagles of trying to injure certain players for cash rewards, a charge denied by Ryan. The teams met again two weeks later in Philadelphia for Bounty Bowl II, otherwise known as “The Ice Bowl,” for all the icy snowballs that were hurled at Dallas players by Eagles fans in the stands. The Birds won that game handily 20-10.
Last year, I hosted an episode of BGN Memories in which both these games were discussed at length with WIP’s Glen Macnow, which you can check out right here!
It was the only season in Cowboys history in which they did not play on Monday Night football.
Thank You, Dave Campo (2001)
It’s always hard for a team to transition from a Hall of Fame quarterback to something else, and that’s what the Cowboys had to do in 2001 when Troy Aikman retired. Four different QBs started games for Dallas that year: Quincy Carter (8), Anthony Wright (3), Ryan Leaf (3) and Clint Stoerner (2). Emmitt Smith was still around and, while he rushed for over 1,000 yards (1,021), he only averaged 3.9 yards per attempt. Michael Irvin was gone and the team’s leading receiver was Rocket Ismail (834 yards receiving). They ranked 30th out of 31 teams in points scored and, defensively, allowed 21.1 points per game, 20th-most in the NFL.
It was also the height of the Dave Campo era, one of the most bumbling head coaches in franchise history. He led the Cowboys to a last-place, 5-11 finish in the midst of three years of brutal football.
Andy Reid’s Eagles, now one of the premier teams in the NFC, walloped Campo’s Cowboys in Week 3, 40-11, and destroyed them in Big D in 10, 36-3. Yes, the Eagles outscored Dallas 76-14 in their two match-ups that season. It was awesome.
In fact, in Campo’s three seasons as head coach, he went 0-6 against the Eagles and was defeated by a combined score of 204-62, an average score of 34-10.
Of course, the 2-4-1 Eagles are by no means a juggernaut themselves, and it’s important to remember that last year the Cowboys were in the midst of a three-game losing streak and coming off a pitiful performance against the Jets heading into their Sunday Night match-up against the Eagles in Dallas. The Cowboys then romped all over the Birds 37-10. This year’s Cowboys team still has Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Cee Dee Lamb, so they are not devoid of skill.
Still, with an offensive line that has been ravaged by injury, a horrific defense, and a QB situation that at best could only be described as shaky, this Cowboys team could soon add themselves to the esteemed list above as the worst of all-time.