Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Playing Doctor with the Cowboys
Let's face it, the Dallas Cowboys are not living up to the hype. With preseason talk of being Super Bowl Champions, the 'Boys have hardly justified such talk with their play. On the heels of a squeaky 9 point victory over the winless Bengals, it's time to take a step back and analyze exactly why the play is so poor. A few common theories have arisen:
1) The team is deviating from what makes them great: big plays, the running game, etc. Playing to the other team's defense let's the opposition dictate what the Cowboy offense will do.
2) Not getting the "star" players enough touches. And I'm not talking about T.O. Marion Barber and Felix Jones didn't get enough (or any) touches in the loss to Washington, and in last week's game, the wide receivers had a combined total of three (3) receptions. Both games took away players that 1)dictate the style and pace of the game and 2) are big play threats. Seemingly, only one facet of the game is working at a time. Against Washington, the passing game was great; the running game was nonexistent. Against Cincinnati, the running game was stellar; the passing game was sub-par. Once both begin to click again, dominance will return.
3) The team's overall mentality and looseness, starting with Wade Phillips.
Let's expand on point #3, because this is most likely the deep-rooted cause of the weak performances of late.
The Cowboys have been billed as potential Super Bowl victors since last spring. However, such hype requires a lot of responsibility, which the 'Boys seemed to have taken too lightly. Wade Phillips said after the Bengals game that he was "very pleased" with the win. Really? Very pleased? Is that the attitude a coach with expectations of taking his team to the Super Bowl should have about an ugly and close encounter with a winless team?
The attitude of "win and get by" is filtering down to the players. Terrell Owens said that "it was a great team win." A team win, yes. A great win, no. A great win would have been tripling the 17 point lead after one quarter. A great win would have been playing well for 60 minutes, not 15. In fact, when it was said to Phillips that the team "stunk" for the last three quarters, he looked at the reporter and replied "I think you stink." Now, I love Wade's sense of humor and ability to keep things light, but this was not the time. It appears Phillips did not want to hear the truth: the Cowboys really did stink after the first quarter.
All the hype seems to be giving the players big heads, too. Bradie James went on record saying that "everybody expects us to be some kind of superheroes, which in essence we kind of are, but man..." Let's all hope and pray he said that in a sarcastic tone as a joke and reading such a quote does not give the proper context, because if that is the attitude of this Dallas team, kiss a playoff win goodbye. If this attitude continues, Dallas can also kiss Wade Phillips goodbye. And welcome articles of mockery and over-hyped commentary.
Coming later this week: Update on the Mavs training camp, plus a Dallas Stars preview.