Charles Haley won five Super Bowls with the 49ers and Cowboys during his 13 NFL seasons. He recorded 100.5 sacks during his career and is now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So he knows a something about what it takes to be a winner. And in his mind, the Cowboys, who he helped hoist three Lombardi Trophies from 1992-96, are losers.
"I don't think they understand what it takes to win a game," Haley said during an appearance on 103.3 ESPN in Dallas (by way of the Dallas Morning News). "If you want to look back, if that was Coach [Jimmy] Johnson, we would've worked harder than we did last year just to repeat that part of it. I don't see that maturity where guys are doing their own thing out there. When the coach says run 10, you run 15, or you grab your teammates and go run. They took 13-3 for granted and they thought, 'OK, we'll win the Super Bowl the next year.'"
There are a number of reasons for why the Cowboys weren't as successful in 2017 as they were the season before. But it's not like they're the Browns, either. After surprising everyone and going 13-3 in 2016 -- without Tony Romo and with a rookie fourth-rounder under center -- Dallas regressed to the mean last season; the offensive line struggled with consistency, which affected second-year quarterback Dak Prescott, and running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games. Still, the team finished 9-7, just one game out of the final final wild-card spot.
But when a team with high expectations falls short, fingers will be pointed. Which brings us back to Haley.
"I blame everybody. It's one team and everybody's together. And that's the key. I go over there and I tell guys, 'Man, Jerry [Jones] built this house for a bunch of damn losers.' And they get mad. They have to do something about it. I can't do anything about it, I can't play. All I can do is give you some knowledge. And then the egos are so big and they're so busy getting on Twitter and Facebook and everything else -- maybe they should get in that playbook. Maybe they should learn how to rush, catch and block.
"I tell those guys nobody's scared of them. Ain't nobody in the league scared of y'all. What y'all been doing is listening to people saying you've got the best offensive line in the business. I said who's scared of y'all? Huh? Those little things like that, those intangibles, the attitude you take to the field [matters] . ... I go over there and I watch guys work. I watch them go through drills. They go through three or four drills and they're gassed."
Haley isn't entirely wrong; there were times last season. But it's also worth noting that the Cowboys had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2008-2009.
Of course, it's all about perspective. When Haley was in Dallas, the Cowboys were 59-21, made the playoffs all five seasons and won three Super Bowls.