What-if Aikman's 1989 Cowboys Faced the 2010 Cowboys Simulation from Whatifsports.com From WhatIfSports.com image

The 2010 Cowboys Should Party Like It's 1989

Kitna leads 2010 Cowboys Over Aikman's '89 team

By Ryan Fowler - Whatifsports.com
November 15th, 2010

If it bleeds, it leads.

Now if this old newsroom philosophy is true, it would imply the Dallas Cowboys are in need of a tourniquet.

Jason Garrett must be the band-aid.

Like Michael Jordan in the 1990s and Tiger Woods for the good portion of the last decade (sans the past year), the Cowboys possess the unsolicited ability to draw attention while playing the role of a loser. The 2010 headlines, albeit punch-lines, are not so much praising the opponents who won, but that America's Team lost, again.

Troy Aikman

Prior to their win over the New York Giants on Sunday, the Cowboys 1-7 start to the season was their worst opening stretch since 1989. The trio of owner Jerry Jones, head coach Jimmy Johnson and number one draft pick, quarterback Troy Aikman, all made their Dallas debuts during the 1-15 campaign.

Although two-plus decades separate the two franchises and the brand of football played has evolved, statistical similarities between the two exist.

The 2010 Cowboys are 29th in points allowed per game (29.0), 24th in rush defense (123.9 yds/gm) and are minus-9 in the giveaway/takeaway department, the second worst in the NFL. Not to be outdone, the 1989 Cowboys ranked dead last in giveaway/takeaways (-25), dead last in points scored (204), dead last in point differential (-189) and owned the 27th ranked rush offense out of 28 teams (Emmitt Smith would serve as an upgrade in the seasons to come).

With Jerry Jones' dream of hosting the Super Bowl at his brand new palace in Arlington now laid to rest, Whatifsports.com wanted to know if this season's Cowboys, with Jon Kitna at quarterback, would be capable of beating Aikman and the 'Boys from 1989.

Using our NFL simulation engine we simulated the 2010 Cowboys versus 1989 Cowboys 1,001 times. The computer generated each team's chances of winning, average points per game and sample box score. You also have the ability to simulate this match-up yourself by clicking on the "Simulate Game" link below.

Please note: our default QBs for those two teams are Steve Walsh and Tony Romo. You can manually adjust the two depth charts to your liking. The services of Herschel Walker were also availabe to the 1989 Cowboys. He was traded to Minnesota during that season.

How 'Bout Dem Cowboys?
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
2010 Cowboys83.726.9Box Score
1989 Cowboys16.315.5Simulate Game

NFL success is defined by wins and losses and though the 1989 and 2010 Cowboys sit in the same statistical ballpark, their sabremetric bond ends there.

Jon Kitna

Jon Kitna led this season's Cowboys to an 83.7-percent success rate over their 1989 brethren with an average score of 26.9-15.5. The poor performance by Aikman and company proves once again how quickly Jimmy Johnson, not to mention the front office via the Draft, turned this franchise into a winner during the 1990s.

The 2010 Cowboys wasted no time attacking the porous defense. On their third offensive play, Kitna flipped a pass to Jason Witten and the big tight end found some green pasture and outran the defense for a 55-yard touchdown catch and score. The '89 Cowboys kicked a field goal later in the first and trailed by four points after the first 12 minutes.

A couple turnovers and missed field goal kept the score locked at 7-3 before Kitna and the Cowboys capitalized off an Aikman interception. It was Witten who found the end zone for a second time on a four-yard pass from Kitna.

The 2010 Cowboys headed into halftime with a 14-3 lead.

Kitna led Dallas on a four-play, 69-yard drive to start the third quarter which culminated in a 34-yard touchdown strike to Miles Austin. A David Buehler field goal handed the Cowboys a 21-point cushion heading into the fourth.

Herschel Walker

The 1989 edition of America's Team finally answered the call on their first drive in the final frame. Aikman found Walker for six points and the team's first touchdown of the game. But coach Johnson's attempt at a late-quarter rally against Garrett's squad was squashed.

Buehler kicked his second field goal with a little over 5 minutes remaining to push the lead back to 17. After throwing two picks earlier in the game, Aikman (231 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) finished on a positive note with a TD pass to Steve Folsom. Kitna (283 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) took a knee to wrap things up.

The 2010 Cowboys win 27-17 in this historical simulation match-up.

The 1989 Cowboys also lost their season opener to New Orleans, 28-0. On the Saints' roster that day was a free-agent quarterback named Jason Garrett.

Twenty-one years later, the long-time offensive coordinator finds himself in the middle of an eight-game season with one goal: stop the bleeding.

Create your All-Time Dallas Cowboys Dream Team. You can draft any player from any season in Cowboys' history and have them go up against any Super Bowl champion.


Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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