Aside from coaching, the paucity of wins for Dallas in 2015 was due to two distinct factors: no stability at quarterback and a dearth of defensive playmakers. Like Julien Sorel in The Red and the Black, the Cowboys front office, led by owner/GM Jerry Jones, COO Stephen Jones, and Assistant Director of Player Personnel Will McClay, is at an impasse with their blue-chip pick. They cannot have both; the triumvirate must decide down which irrevocable path they want to go.
If they were to ask someone from their victorious past, like former defensive tackle Tony Casillas who won two Super Bowls with the club during his first stint in 1991-93, he would say to take a quarterback.
"I really think that it's time to find a quarterback," Casillas said. "They need someone, because we don't even know how healthy Tony Romo is going to be because of all of this surgery and everything. There's a little bit more skepticism and there's an uncertainty of what he'll be like."
Romo, who will be 36 years old come Opening Day, missed 12 games because of a twice-broken left collarbone. Since 2013, he has missed at least a game due to back injuries, and since 2013, he has had a back procedure two of the past three off-seasons. The way it's looking, the Romo Spin may not be able to evade Father Time.
If the Dallas brain trust were to poll a current team captain -- take safety Barry Church -- they would discover the sentiment would be to get a defensive playmaker, someone to help them win now.
"Personally, I would like to have a win-now piece," said Church. "I'm a veteran now and I need to win. I want to win. I don't want to look a couple of years down the road, I want to win now. But whoever they draft I feel like they'll make a great decision and hopefully whoever they draft can help us get to that next level."
Casillas wouldn't necessarily disagree with Church, but whoever the Cowboys pick must be the right guy. The former second overall pick for the Atlanta Falcons in 1986 says the team "has to get it right" because of the shrinking aperature of the Romo Window.
Said Casillas: "I'm a defensive guy. I like Joey Bosa out of Ohio State. I think he's a game changer. I think he's a guy that can come in and automatically fit in and play. I've seen the guy play. He's got too many great things about him. And let's face it: some of the decisions they've made over the last couple years, Greg Hardy and then Randy Gregory, it's kind of imploding of the Cowboys."
Bosa, a 6-6, 276-pound defensive end, ran a 4.86 40-yard dash at the combine in Indianapolis last week. Though a Unanimous All-American in 2014 and a two-time Big Ten First-Teamer, he was suspended for the first game of the 2015 season for reasons Coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes would not disclose. Bosa ended his season in a similarly scandalous fashion when he was ejected during the first quarter of the 2016 Fiesta Bowl for targeting Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer.
If not Bosa, there are other talented defensive specimens in the draft pool such as UCLA linebacker Myles Jack or Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
One decision the Cowboys made correctly was in the first round of last year's draft with the selection of cornerback Byron Jones. Church was really impressed by the rookie and wouldn't mind teaming up with him on the back end in 2016.
"I think he's a great athlete," Church said. "He has the potential to be a great safety in this league. He's getting his tackling skills a lot better and his change of direction a lot better as well, so we'll see and hopefully he'll be back there matched up with me and we can do big things."
If Dallas were to go the route of defensive playmaker, or even a versatile running back or quality offensive lineman (again), Casillas just doesn't want to see his former team trot out has-beens, never-weres, or practice-squaders when Romo inevitable ends up on the injury report.
"I think they need to start with someone in the draft and go out and try to get a low-rent backup like RGIII, someone who can come in and fill the void. Because right now you can't really count on Tony Romo to go through one full season."
But if Casillas were in the Joneses ears in the war room on April 28, he would implore them to take a quarterback with the fourth overall selection.
"It's vital that they make a great decision on getting a quarterback for this year because that's going to be the state of this franchise for years to come."