Wednesday, September 13, 2006

So, What Happened?

The Dallas Cowboys looked like the team to beat in the NFL during the preseason. The piled up a 3-0-1 record, their first unbeaten preseason since 1985 when the team was a perfect 4-0. Had it not been for two missed field goals in the overtime tie with Minnesota, this years team would have matched that 4-0 record.

Sure, preseason doesn't count and doesn't really mean anything, but it's not like the Cowboys were playing their first team against everyone else's third string backups. The team looked good, even with Terrell Owens only making one catch in the whole preseason. I couldn't have been the only fan waiting on the edge of my seat for the regular season to begin.

During the first quarter of the Cowboys season opener in Jacksonville, it looked like the team had picked up right where they left of in the preseason. Bledsoe was hitting his targets, Julius Jones broke a nice touchdown run, and the defense held Jacksonville to 16 yards on their first 15 plays.

So, what happened?

I'm not 100% sure why the wheels fell off, but there seemed to be more than one reason. The first problem was that Bledsoe began throwing errant passes. Two overthrown passes would have likely gone for touchdowns and put the Cowboys up at least 20-0. Did Drew just get cold all of a sudden? In between possessions, Drew was throwing passes on the sideline. He never does that. The announcers reported that his back had tightened up. From that point forward, he continued to struggle and didn't get it back together until less than two minutes remained in the game.

Why didn't Parcells attempt to put Tony Romo in the game? Instead, Bledsoe hurt the team by continuing to play in less than perfect health. I always talked about how Donavan McNabb was too stupid to realize he was hurting his team by playing hurt, and here's ol' Bledsoe doing the same thing. Bledsoe was struggling to throw the ball and threw three interceptions in the game. Two of them gave Jacksonville touchdowns, and the third ended all hopes of the Cowboys chances for tying up the score to get to overtime.

The next problem is that the defense began to give up plays to the Jacksonville recievers. So, what happened? Did Jacksonville get warmed up, or did the Dallas D go flat? I'm not sure of the answer to any of those questions, but I know that I'm worried about it. The defense gave up 24 points, and when the offense can't score 20, the team will lose every time.

Ever since Parcells has been in Dallas, the team has shown flashes of greatness but has never had the ability to close out and win big games. I'm not saying it is all of Parcells' fault. Jerry Jones played a large part in dismantling one of the greatest teams of all time. The team that Jimmy Johnson built. That team was so good that it took Jones several years to finally destroy it. Parcells had his work cut out for him trying to work with Jerry's draft busts and following in the footsteps of Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, and Dave Campo.

Parcells does do certain things that I don't understand however. Like the "Run and Punt" offense. When a team runs up the middle on EVERY first and second down, the defense can usually figure that out. Also, when the team has a running back that cannot run up the middle, a.k.a. Julius Jones, it makes it even easier for the defense. Then, on third down and long the pass rush comes and if the quarterback is immobile (Drew Bledslow), he either takes a sack or makes a bad pass that ends up in the hands of a defender. This formula hasn't worked for the three years Parcells has been in Dallas, and I don't see it working this year. Is he too set in his ways? I'm starting to think he might be. I realize that type of offense helped Parcells win two Super Bowls with the Giants, but there is no player named Dave Meggett on the Cowboys' roster.

As I have mentioned before. There has only been one game this season, and I'm not giving up on the Cowboys yet. It just seems like I've seen this movie before, and I know how it is going to end. I'm hoping this version turns out to be the director's cut with deleted scenes and an alternate ending.

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