Jimmy Johnson, the Cowboys' first-year coach, wanted to throw Aikman to the wolves right away rather than gradually developing him. In his debut season, he finished 0-11 (155 of 293 for 1,749 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions) as the Cowboys went 1-15. They were outscored by over 100 points during the season and had the worst record in the NFL.
Aikman suffered a broken bone in his left foot early in the first game of the season and wasn't expected to play again this year. However, the injury turned out to be only a sprain, and two weeks later, he was back on the field at Iowa where he led the Cowboys to their first victory over a top 10 team in school history. During that game, Aikman completed 17 of 23 passes for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns without an interception. His performance earned him MVP honors.
After going 2-14 in Johnson's second season, the front office fired him after one playoff appearance and replaced him with Barry Switzer. The Cowboys won their first game under Switzer, 24-3 over Washington and he finished with a 22-20 record over three seasons. After leaving football to take over at Oklahoma State, Aikman returned in 1989 and helped the Cowboys reach the playoffs each year. He ended his only full season as a starter with 26 touchdowns passes and only 7 interceptions.
Carter was only the third rookie quarterback in Cowboys history to start the season. Quincy Carter led the Dallas Cowboys to a 10-6 record and the NFL playoffs in 2003. He became the franchise's fifth quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a single season.
The Dallas Cowboys did not have a first-round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft due to a transaction that transferred two first-round picks to the Seattle Seahawks in return for wide receiver Joey Galloway. Carter was taken in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys as a replacement for the recently retiring Troy Aikman (53rd overall).
Eagles of Philadelphia Despite being sacked four times, Troy Aikman completed seventeen passes for 178 yards and a first-quarter touchdown pass to Michael Irvin as the Cowboys triumphed 23-17.
Cowboys' Records In the final season at Texas Stadium, the Cowboys finished with an 8-8 record, their best finish since their inaugural season. They were eliminated from playoff contention on December 30 when Troy Aikman was injured during a loss to Washington. He missed the next game against Philadelphia but returned for the finale against New York.
The Cowboys were defeated by the Eagles 23-17. It was their only win during the regular season. After the season, it was announced that head coach Jimmy Johnson would not return for another season. Dave Campo was named interim coach for the 1994 season.
This season saw the arrival of current Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones. He took over the team after Johnson left to become head coach of the University of Miami Hurricanes. Jones had been serving as president of the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons since 1989. He decided to step down from the role to take control of his own team.
Jones hired Bill Parcells as his new head coach. Parcells had been serving as senior vice president of football operations with the Falcons until he was given the job with the Cowboys.
Garrett was officially appointed the Cowboys' eighth head coach on January 6, 2011. He is the team's first born since its inception in 1960, and the first former Cowboys player to occupy the position. He had three consecutive 8-seasons from 2011 to 2013.
The Cowboys were the first team in NFL history to start 0-2 and yet make (and ultimately win) the Super Bowl. The next off-season was characterized by Johnson's unexpected resignation from the Cowboys due to a disagreement with owner Jerry Jones about who deserved more credit for the team's back-to-back Super Bowl victories.
Though the season appeared to be a flop, it would turn out to be a foreshadowing of many excellent years to come. This squad was led by Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, the future cornerstones of the Cowboys' 1992-95 dynasty. During the season, star running back Herschel Walker was dealt to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a package of players and draft selections. The move proved to be one of the best moves of his career as he had another huge year with the Vikings.
Other notable names on this squad include wide receivers Irving Fryar and Terry Glenn, defensive ends Charles Haley and Kevin Greene, cornerback Neal Anderson, and guard Evan Mathis. Mathis went on to play 12 seasons in the NFL after being drafted in 1989 out of Indiana University by the Philadelphia Eagles. He is currently the center for the Atlanta Falcons.
Glenn was a first-round pick by the Cowboys out of Iowa. He would go on to play 10 seasons in Dallas and catch 442 passes for 5,829 yards and 42 touchdowns. He also ran for 1,338 yards and 13 scores.
Haley was a second-round pick by the Cowboys out of Colorado State. He went on to win two Super Bowls with Dallas and make the Pro Bowl in 1994. He finished his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers in 1999.
Anderson was a fourth-round pick by the Cowboys out of Southern California. He started 44 games over seven seasons with them and is now the coach of the Oakland Raiders.
One year after Dallas picked Troy Aikman with the first overall choice in the 1989 Draft, Smith would join the Cowboys and become the motor that propelled them to three Super Bowl victories in Smith's first five years as a professional. During that period, Emmitt rose to become one of the league's top running backs. In 1990, he led the NFL in rushing yards by a rookie (1597) and was second only to Tony Dorsett among North Carolina State players in career rushing stats (4606 yards). The Cowboys selected wide receiver Michael Irvin with their next pick and signed free agent quarterback Roger Staubach.
Emmitt started out slowly, but once he got going, he didn't stop. In his first season with the team, he played in only eight games due to a knee injury, but still managed to finish with 589 yards and four touchdowns on 122 carries (5.1 avg.). He returned the following year at age 29 and was the best player on an offense that included Tony Romo, Kevin Williams, and Charles Haley. Emmitt finished with 1401 yards and nine touchdowns on 264 carries (4.8 avg.) as he fought off injuries that plagued him throughout his career. After three more seasons with the Cowboys, all winning ones, he was released during the 1993 offseason and soon after signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
In San Francisco, Emmitt had another strong season before being hit with a drug charge that ended his run there.
Eddie LeBaron was the Cowboys' first starting quarterback when they became an NFL team in 1960. Don Meredith, though, was the franchise's first starting quarterback to produce positive results. Meredith took over as starter in 1962 after LeBaron led the offense for two seasons. He helped the team win its first championship that year with 13 victories and also threw for 2,410 yards during that time.
After LeBaron, who is now known for coaching college football, the Cowboys didn't have a quarterback who played more than three seasons until 1978 when Tony Romo joined the team. He started every game in his first season and went 11-5 as a starter. After missing most of 2009 with a shoulder injury, he has returned to form this past season, throwing for 3,438 yards while completing 62 percent of his passes in 16 games.
Romo will be entering his fifth season next year and there are rumors that he could be traded before then. If that happens, Joe Montana would be my pick to replace him because he was the only quarterback the Cowboys ever had and still loves playing here. He came back from retirement for one last season in 1998 and passed for 4,713 yards while leading the team to its second Super Bowl victory.
Other candidates include Brandon Weeden, Jason Garrett and Kyle Orton but none of them have been able to beat out Romo yet.