Some of this is just conjecture on my part, but I think we might have learned something from each of the games this weekend:
(1) Indianapolis 15, Baltimore 6: We learned that it was probably good that the Colts defense wasn’t playing this well when the Cowboys faced them.
(2) New Orleans 27, Philadelphia 24: We learned that the two teams that taught others how to dismantle the Cowboys were pretty even when it came right down to it. And we learned that we might have had more brains on the sidelines last season than we did this year.
(3) Chicago 27, Seattle 24: We learned that the Bears defense would probably do quite a number on the Dallas offense had the Cowboys traveled to Chicago this weekend. Or maybe not.
(4) New England 24, San Diego 21: We learned that so long as Marty Schottenheimer is still coaching, there will be at least one team that is more cursed than the Cowboys. We also learned that a certain former defensive assistant is one good playoff coach, at least when his quarterback is named Brady.
The big news from Cowboys camp? T.O. got his finger fixed.
Randy Galloway continued using his own finger to point at Bill Parcells, this time in the context of Mike Zimmer’s departure:
The Cowboys’ former long-time defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, says “blame me for December.” He’s preaching to the choir, of course. Many people, at least fans, do blame Zimmer, and applauded his Valley Ranch exit last week.
But others, with more inside knowledge of the situation, are quick to cite other factors beyond Zimmer’s control for a stunning belly-up December display by the defense.
Bill Parcells’ stubbornness in refusing to allow needed adjustments in the basic concept of Big Bill’s beloved 3-4 alignment, particularly in pass coverage.
Safety Roy Williams’ declining work ethic, centering, of course, on diminishing pass coverage skills over the last two seasons. “Roy has gone from being acceptable in coverage, to a joke,” said one voice. “It’s like he thinks he’s an entertainer now, looking to make SportsCenter with his hits, while blowing off what he needs to be concentrating on.”
Linebacker Bradie James’ sudden “confidence plunge” once opposing teams started isolating him in pass coverage. “That No. 56 looked like he didn’t know where he was about half the time,” said Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna, the week after the Lions lit up the Cowboys’ defense in the regular-season finale.
Marcus Spears, a former No. 1 draft pick for the defensive line, failing to display “any fire in his butt,” according to one observer. “I don’t want to call him a bust just yet, but Spears is now at a crossroads in his career.”
The failure to develop defensive lineman Chris Canty. “We limit him too much,” said a voice. “Turn this kid loose. He’s a player.”
Cornerback Anthony Henry, while hampered with injuries, probably played himself out of a job, at least at that position. A move to safety is now being considered.
Sticking with the Startle Gram, Jennifer Floyd Engel tells Parcells to quit waffling but not coaching. I finally disagreed with something she said, though:
I don’t care what CP’s detractors — and he has amassed many in his Cowboy days — say. He’s better than this. Every Cowboys fan has to remember his Giants teams, and any NFL fan remembers his Patriots teams. Even his Jets days were impressive. And this is why Owner Jones wanted him. Why all of Cowboy Nation did.
What he did 20 years ago does not erase what he hasn’t done here. But one thing is clear enough: we didn’t lose today!
[tags] Dallas Cowboys, Bill Parcells, NFL playoffs, Marty Schottenheimer [/tags]