Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cowboys' Disaster - The national perspective

From Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback (an excellent read every week, if you've got like an hour to kill):

From Hero to Zero to Romo:

Sure you just gave up your body on a dramatic dive for a touchdown, but
Drew Bledsoe, what have you done for us lately? With 3:56 remaining in the
second quarter and the Cowboys at the Jersey/A goal line, Bledsoe scrambled,
dove and took hammer-hard hits as he scored the touchdown that pulled the home
team to within 12-7. The crowd cheered. Just five snaps later, with 1:38 left in
the second quarter, Dallas was again at the Jersey/A goal line and Bledsoe threw
an interception. The crowd booed, and Bledsoe was yanked from the game. Dallas
fans roared their approval as Tony Romo entered -- except he threw an
interception on his first snap. Romo ended up tossing three interceptions in the
second half, one when Dallas was yet again at the Giants' goal line.

So both Dallas quarterbacks ended the game in the doghouse, and
TMQ thinks bad coaching is the explanation. Early in the contest, G-Persons
leading 7-0, Dallas had a first-and-10 on its own 1-yard line, the most
dangerous spot on the field. Dallas' coaches called for Bledsoe to take a
five-step drop backward into his end zone; he barely avoided a safety. Now it's
second down, and what do Dallas' coaches call? Another dropback: sack, safety.
The Cowboys' offensive line messed up on this play -- LaVar Arrington came
through the "B gap" untouched, the right tackle and right guard both ignoring
him. But the key mistake was the coaches' calls, not the players'

Now we're at the Giants' goal line with 1:38 left in the first half. It's
second-and-goal, Dallas holds all three timeouts, plenty of time to run the
ball. Instead, the Cowboys' coaches call a short square-out. When you're at the
goal line, the short square-out is the riskiest play you can call. Defenders are
up at the line, so the cornerback is in position to break on the ball and
intercept it; and in this situation the pass travels almost entirely sideways,
giving the corner time to react. Dallas' coaches should know how risky the short
square-out at the goal line is because three weeks ago when the Cowboys were at
the Philadelphia goal line in the closing minute, game in the balance, Dallas'
coaches called a short square-out that was intercepted and returned for a
touchdown. Maybe, just maybe, the Giants watched film of that. So what do
Dallas' coaches tell Bledsoe to throw? A short square-out, interception. Just to
prove it was no fluke, when the Cowboys reached Jersey/A's 11 late in a game
that was still contested, Dallas' coaches again called a short square-out, again
intercepted, and this time it was returned for the icing touchdown. Afterward,
did Bill "Mr. Personality" Parcells blame himself or his staff? Somehow he
didn't get around to that.

Three Dallas notes:

First, it's long been clear that Parcells is an egomaniac in both the
casual and, perhaps, clinical senses of that word. Lately he's gone downhill to
simply becoming a nasty person, spitting and snarling at everyone around him.
What's Parcells going to do next, demand worship? When I look at Parcells, the
phrase that comes to mind is "failed human being."

Second, the deciding play of Monday night's game was a Terrell Owens
blunder. Trailing 19-7 midway through the third quarter, Dallas had a
fourth-and-2 on the Jersey/A 32. Romo put a perfect short pass into Owens'
hands, and he dropped it like it was a live ferret. I wrote "game over" at that

Third, Dallas did run one really sweet play -- a play we rarely see, and I
don't understand why. Scoreboard reading 26-13 at the start of the fourth
quarter, the Cowboys lined up for a deuce attempt. Everybody split wide, empty
backfield; the Giants' defenders frantically spread wide to stop the wacky pass
they expected; Romo simply went straight up the middle for two points. When you
spread the field at the goal line, often the result is five offensive linemen
blocking only five defenders in the box, and the odds for a successful
quarterback sneak are excellent.

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