Monday, November 06, 2006

Tales from the dark side: QB? Hey! Rest of team? Oy vey!

What a delicious Sunday - Redskins 22 - Cowboys 19 turned a drizzly, grey day in the DFW Metroplex of Love into a more drizzly, grey day. The emotional swing experienced by the sheep during that last 35 seconds was thunderous. Who among us has ever seen a game lost, won, then lost again so quickly and on so many plays involving annoying little kickers?

What went wrong at FedEx Field for the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon? Maybe a better question is: What went right?

There was more than a bit that actually did go right.

· Romo was not bad, and, while I still have a hard time believing the undrafted guy from 1-AA is the next great Cowboy QB, he’s done practically everything you could ask in two full games.
· Julius Jones was not bad.
· The O line was, shockingly, not bad.
· Um, I think that pretty much does it.

What went wrong? Pull up a chair, amigo.

The "Doomsday III" defense made creaky, geezing Mark Brunell look like his younger, All-Pro self. Clinton Portis was effective as well. Don’t get me wrong; the 'Skins' offense was certainly not the reincarnation of Air Coryell. But they were a lot more effective than they've been recently.

The Redskins’ entire starting 11 on offense ought to send Williams, Ferguson, Ware, and Co. a giant "Thank You" bouquet from ProFlowers, along with 150 lbs of chocolates. Has one defense ever allowed more has-been offensive players to resurrect their careers? The NFLPA ought to make the Cowboys' defense part of the mental health benefits in the pension plan. Feeling unworthy? Play these guys. You'll feel better right away.
This defense, which was, at the beginning of the season, predicted to conquer the galaxy, is bad. Really bad. The corners seem to be holding their own, but that’s it. No pass rush (it looks like the pre-Charles Haley days out there) and a depth chart full of safeties who have no business attempting to cover NFL receivers mean no Cowboy lead is safe, no opponent comeback is too outrageous, and poor Brad Sham is likely to retire Bob and Dan’s Homer Call of the Week.

And, just to pour some salt in the wound, let me remind you this is the defense which has been the beneficiary of the lion’s share of recent high draft picks and big-buck free agent signings.

Did someone mention free agents? As long as we’re on the subject, we have to mention the biggest free agent of them all – Mr. TO Owens. The guys is entertaining, and he’s got the kind of ability, well, I don’t even know what to say about it. He’s a superior physical specimen, no doubt.

One thing he is not, however, is a great wide receiver. He’s a very good wide receiver, but he is not great. The reason? He’s got two cement blocks for hands. You know what, TO? If you want to be considered w/ Rice and Irvin and Largent and the other greats at your position, you HAVE GOT TO MAKE THAT CATCH!!! And, until you stop dropping critical passes at critical times, you’ve got no right to run your mouth about anything, no right to sleep in offensive meetings, and no right to cost your team 15 yards by performing skits in the end zone (even if they are funny).

Special teams? Dreadful. Mat McBriar had his worst game as a Cowboy. By a bunch. Coverage? Not so much. And Ace Vanderjagt, the multi-millionaire kicker who was supposed to be the surest thing since Nicolette Sheridan, gets his 35 yard game winner blocked (I’m not ready to completely hang this one on him – Troy Vincent was in the backfield about the same time Romo put the ball down).

And just how does the Pear Shaped Football Genius, a coach who supposedly stresses discipline and avoiding stupid mistakes, how does he explain 11 penalties for more than 150 yards? That’s the biggest penalty burden incurred by a Cowboy team since the 1970’s (when, it must be noted, they were coached by another coach who stressed discipline and avoiding stupid mistakes).

So, here you are, Cowboy sheep. Your new QB looks very promising, amazingly so. You’ve got a running game. Those are all facts. What else have you got? An over-rated defense, underperforming special teams, and a $10 million receiver who appears to get pre-game Novocain shots in his hands. And, you’ve got a 4-4 record to go along with your three division losses.

And now, you’re off to Phoenix for a date in the new palace with the lowly Cardinals. Ready to call that a "sure win"? Didn’t think so.

It still says 6-10 here, baby. Quote me.

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