The Texans are in the playoffs. The Giants are in the playoffs. But the Dallas Cowboys, of course, have missed the playoffs now for two straight seasons and have also gone sixteen years without winning the Super Bowl, a record that’s particularly grating for Jerry Jones’ wealthy and high-expectations franchise. And unlike Rick Perry, the Cowboys can’t just show up at the next spot on the schedule and hope to catch a break.

So all a Cowboys fan can really do is grieve, which as pop psychology aficionados (and The Simpsons cultists) know, happens in five stages (as originally outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross).

1. Denial
#FireJerryJones is only a Twitter hashtag; the Cowboys owner has every intention of continuing to be the Cowboys’ general manager. The only universe in which Jones could get fired is the one where people mistake stories in the Onion (“Dallas Cowboys Release Jerry Jones“) for reality.

“The thing you’ve got to realize is that when you have an owner that is full time as the owner, then you create a situation where you have as much turnover at GM as you do at coaching level,” Jones said in a radio interview with KRLD (as Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported). “And I think that just deters from the mix.”

In other words, if Jerry Jones the owner wasn’t also Jerry Jones the general manager, he’d have to hire and fire the general manager as recklessly and inconsistently as Jerry Jones the general manager has hired and fired coaches. 

2. Anger
Writing for ESPNDallas, Ben Rogers of 103.3 FM ESPN’s Ben and Skin Show isn’t feeling very warm towards head coach Jason Garrett (whom he compares to Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting) or defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (“because of his completely unsubstantiated and never-backed-up swagger, we believed”).

“The 2011 Dallas Cowboys season died a cold, wet, miserable death (Sunday) in the far-away Meadowlands,” Rogers wrote. “But in truth, this franchise has been on life support for a decade and a half. Jerry Jones is the worst GM in football, but he is going nowhere. And because of that, nothing will change.”

3. Bargaining
“The team’s window of opportunity is closing, and it’s just about time to jump through it,” writes Jonathan Bales at the Dallas Observer.

Bales thinks that if Garrett and Ryan are willing to adjust and compromise, they’ll both improve as coaches next year. Ryan needs to tone down his “Crazytown” aggressive blitzing style, while Garrett needs more of a pass-first offense like the ones in Green Bay, New England, and New Orleans.

“You know, the ones you can stand to watch,” Bales wrote. 

4. Depression
Michael Corcoran at Culture Map Austin does not share Bales’ optimism, lamenting that “Coach Ginger’s job is perhaps safest of all, next to the General Manager. Garrett was annointed as coach of the future by Jones, who paid him $3 million a year as offensive coordinator before tapping him to replace Wade Phillips in midseason last year. It’s too soon, and Jerry’s ego is too big, to admit he made a mistake. 

“Who wants to start a class action lawsuit against the Cowboys for stealing so many hours of our time this season?,” Corcoran also asked. 

5. Acceptance
Ben Rogers’ only kind words—albeit with a tone of utter resignation—were for the Cowboy’s much-maligned quarterback:

Perhaps during this quiet time we can spare a special thought and offer our sympathy, our love and our support to Cowboys fans, their families and loved ones — and most importantly, to Tony Romo. You, sir, are not to blame for any of this. This violent, bloody football death falls directly on the head of one Jerry Jones . . .

Rest in peace, 2011 Dallas Cowboys. You will not fool us again in 2012.