Well this post has been a long time coming…as well as trying to come up with a way to write it without four-letter words being scattered across it as well. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe this past season for the Cowboys. There also isn’t just one single problem on the team either — the whole situation has become such a big joke and circus right now. Even worse, it seems like most of the problem pieces in this puzzle won’t be going anywhere.
So what just what in the hell is wrong with this thing? Well, it starts up at the top…
We have been going through the same cycle since the Jimmy Johnson era: strong-minded coach comes in, wants to have his hand in the GM side to get his guys, builds a team and then Jerry tries to take it all over and do it himself and fails. In Johnson’s case, he was fired and Switzer came in and won a Super Bowl with Johnson’s team, which in hindsight has been the worst thing to ever happen to the ‘Boys as Jerry can always delude himself into thinking he “did it himself”.
What we have currently is a skeleton crew of Parcells’ players. He built a team up, and once T.O. was thrown into the mix (and it is my opinion Jerry overruled the Big Tuna on that signing) he left town. Now we may not have won a playoff game with Parcells at the helm; however, he took a franchise with literally no direction and identity and built them back up.
So Parcells leaves and Jerry hires a “player’s coach” in Wade Phillips. He then looks at his T.O. experiment and thinks “hey this worked out rather well” and in come Tank Johnson and Pacman Jones to the mix. You also have several dangerous decisions with current personel and our draft picks. With a rather unproven Romo, the decision is made in the 2007 draft to pass on Brady Quinn and trade that pick to the Browns. While this alone could be called a calculated risk, saying that Brad freakin’ Johnson is a suitable backup in case all hell breaks loose is just inexcusable. I can’t predict how good Quinn will be, but I guarantee you that I would’ve taken him over Johnson as a backup in a heartbeat. Finally, you have the trade for Detroit WR Roy Williams and give up, yet more draft picks. Now this is obviously a move for the future, but that future is sure in doubt as the biggest impact Williams has had is bitching along with T.O. and the other WR in the locker room.
So now you have left yourself somewhat handcuffed on draft possibilities, little cap room, and Jerry himself claims that he has suffered “the most embarrassing” moments this year as a Cowboys owner. So the response? Everything will likely stay in place.
Are you kidding me?
To quote Peanut (via comedian-ventriloquist, Jeff Dunham) “you can polish a turd and it’s still a turd!” Where in this mess is the solution to the problem? Where is the move that will jar life into the team? It hasn’t been anywhere. Jerry gave his vote of confidence to his coaching staff, which includes a coach that very few (if any) in the area think has the stones to be head coach and an offensive coordinator that two of the worst teams in the NFL don’t want any part of. But hey, we fired our defensive coordinator, so everything is good there right?
There is only one other team in the NFL that has had a longer span with no playoff wins — the Detroit Lions. Last I checked, that GM is no longer employed. If the Cowboys are serious about Super Bowls and post-season wins being the goal, every season without a playoff win is just like a 0-16 season — inexcusable. Yet our front office stubbornly stays in place.
To end this section, here is a where are they now for the Cowboys: Bill Parcells (run out by Jerry and the T.O. move) rebuilds the Dolphins in one year (taking many former Cowboys’ players and coaches with him) and they make the playoffs, Tony Sparano is one of the former Cowboys’ coaches now employed by Parcells (and is a solid coach of the year candidate), and Todd Haley whom was fired as our WR coach will be on the sidelines this Sunday at the Super Bowl as the OC for the Arizona Cardinals.
Great moves Jerry!
Two words should tell you all you need to know about why Wade is currently in a failing situation in Dallas: “Camp Cupcake”. Yes, in those crucial moments of training camp, you know the time in which the team really works on become together, everything is a joke. There are very few practices with pads, zero discipline of note by the head coach, and that tone carries into the season to no one’s surprise.
Here is another telling situation: last game of the season, Cowboys fail a 3rd down conversion and end up with 4th and short. Wade decides to punt — Tony Romo clearly doesn’t agree. So what happens here usually? The QB points and gestures we should go for it, coach rolls his eyes and tells him to sit down right? Well not here. Romo stands on the fields, tells the offense to huddle and waves the punt team to the sidelines as Wade stands dumbfounded and jaw hanging.
He has zero respect from the players. I don’t care who you are, coaches just do not allow their players to override their decisions. You can’t command respect in the room if you let this pass, yet he did.
Wade simply can’t control the egos on the Cowboys and he now commands a group of individuals that do their own thing. At season’s end, there was no pride, no sense of loss — just complete numbness.
But it is OK, Wade is going to change! Really? So when Wade turns over that first table in the locker room, how many players are going to start dying out laughing? You are what you are, and Wade can’t flip a switch and expect his players to respect the “new” coach in the room.
But hey, Jerry gave him his vote of confidence…before coaches like Shannahon and Gruden were fired…neither of those could possibly be better than what we have now right?
I’m not going to spend much time here. I’d just like to point out that the wonder-boy was turned down by the Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, and St. Louis Rams. Two of those teams are the bottom feeders in the NFL. They said no to our “coach-in-waiting”.
I’m not sure what Garret is doing, but it isn’t working. Ray Lewis said before the BAL/DAL game that we have “the simplest offense in the league” and I’ll be damned if Lewis wasn’t sitting there pointing exactly where the ball was going to go and watching BAL knock the crap out of us for the majority of the game.
Also Garret was one of the biggest supporters of Brad Johnson as the QB backup as well. Great eye for talent Jason, seriously.
The “Team” Dynamic
Before I start getting into individual players, let’s just take a snapshot of this team. Again, let’s head to the Philly game at season’s end because that is easily the lowest point of the Cowboys and true character comes out in the lowest moments.
So everything is starting to go right down the tubes. So we have people up and down the sidelines rallying the troops together right? Nope.
Romo is pouting on the bench by himself after a fumble. T.O, Williams, and Crayton are talking to each other off to the side. Offense and defense are completely separated. Tank Johnson is also letting everyone know that he is now a free agent. The coaches are doing God knows what as well on the sidelines as they are just letting this all happen.
Calling the Cowboys a “team” is a disgrace to the term and the idea.
Take this situation from the movie Miracle when Herb Brooks selects his roster for the eventual “Marcile on Ice” Team USA:
Herb Brooks: Take a look at this.
Craig Patrick: What’s this?
Herb Brooks: Twenty-six names.
Herb Brooks: The tough part will be getting it down to twenty before the opening ceremonies.
Craig Patrick: This is the final roster? You’re kidding me, right? This is our first day, Herb. We’ve got a week of this. What about the advisory staff? Aren’t they supposed to have a say in this?
Herb Brooks: Not technically.
Craig Patrick: You’re missing some of the best players.
Herb Brooks: I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones.
Craig Patrick: You have Jim Craig to back up Janisack?
Herb Brooks: Other way around.
Craig Patrick: Other way around? I’m sorry didn’t Janisack just win you a national championship?
Herb Brooks: Janny is a solid goal tender, but we’re not playing for the national championship here, Craig.
Craig Patrick: You know people I speak to say that Craig’s game has been off since his mom died.
Herb Brooks: They ever see him when his game’s on?
Before he ever selects the team:
Herb Brooks: All-star teams fail because they rely solely on the individual’s talent. The Soviets win because they take that talent and use it inside a system that’s designed for the betterment of the team. My goal is to beat ’em at their own game.
So when I look at the Cowboys, I see nothing more than a glorified All-Star team. A bunch of talent that is supposed to beat the hell out of everyone on paper, but just can’t bring it together as a unit when it counts.
When the going gets tough, they complain and point fingers. T.O. is the best teammate in the world–when the Cowboys are winning. If not, the problem is clear: “I’m not getting the ball.” Williams and Crayton have taken T.O.’s wonderful example and are quickly falling in line against Romo and Garret.
The situation in the locker room gets so bad that “sources” start to tell reporters just how horrible everything is. The Cowboys can try to spin it that the media is lying, but I’m sorry there is no avoiding the fact these unnamed sources are telling the truth. When there is no concept of team and unity, the rule of “what is said here stays here” goes right out the window — why be a teammate to people that obviously don’t care.
The stories have been numerous and have been flooding out of Valley Ranch. Carter flights are late to away games due to players being late (although the Cowboys swear it was due to mechanical issues). Players are corincally late for meetings. Romo laughs during a film session when T.O. attempts to point out when he is open. And they go on and on and on.
You can have the best talent in the world, but this “team” that such talent has created just won’t cut it. They will always fall apart in the clutch because they can’t come together as a unit. And it will continue to happen until the personnel is more suited for a team.
The solution? As far as the players go, either the ones I list below need to go or pull their heads out and try to lead this team.
Holy crap! I’m not starting with T.O. I must be losing my mind right?
I started this post by pointing out the problems at the top. As far as the players on this team goes, Romo is the top of the food chain. We all know T.O. is a pain in the ass already and his current behavior is not surprising; however, as far as Romo goes there has been a transformation that is going the exact opposite direction of what this team needs.
Now obviously Romo isn’t going anywhere, but his attitude needs to change as far as leadership goes. Sitting on the bench and hanging your head is not leadership, one-upping your coach is not leadership, pointing fingers publicly at your OC is not leadership, going to Mexico before a playoff game is not leadership, and saying publicly that losing isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you is not leadership.
Look, I know you are doing fine. You have your superstar blond girlfriend, big contract, huge house, etc. However, you don’t publicly ever say such things. Parcells said it many times in his commandments for QBs, “Don’t be a celebrity QB.” Romo is failing miserably in this.
What is worse is that there are rumors surfacing that Romo doesn’t practice well and that Romo has also claimed he doesn’t know where any of his WR will be on a given play.
This needs to stop and fast. Even if your WR are the biggest jerks in the world, you need to communicate with them when things break down. If they are wrong, tell them, let them be the ones to dig their own graves. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.
You can’t point fingers in public. Spread them around in the locker room if you have to, but when the heat comes down you take it. A leader takes the heat and takes the blame on the public front. This shows your teammates you have their backs when the media starts firing and in return you better bust your ass because he just covered yours.
Parcells leaving was one of the worst things that could happen to Romo. He clearly needs a stronger hand guiding him on being the leader of a team. Wade’s approach has failed and the only result so far seems to be that Romo has a case of big head.
It’s time to buckle down, stop the jet-setting, and other assorted crap that has been allowing this team to be dragged further and further down. Attitude reflects leadership — there currently is none and the QB should be the first one filling the void.
Was this season really a surprise? Every Cowboys fan knew this could happen if things started to go sour, T.O. would be…well T.O.
The big issue this season was that, in the absence of vocal leaders, T.O. was being a voice. However, he knows only one way to do this: self-promotion. There is no doubt he practices and works out like a fiend; however, when he talks, the subject goes back to him. He can’t avoid it, he doesn’t know how to, and he can’t keep his mouth shut to save his own skin.
So will cutting him solve all your problems? No, but it sure wouldn’t hurt either. If you find yourself in the situation of well, the problem is either T.O. or Romo, T.O. is the easier cut without a doubt from any angle. However, I don’t expect this to happen.
One way or another someone from inside the organization needs to sit down with T.O. and get things straight and stick to whatever is agreed on. Romo, obviously would be a good candidate here, but Garret should also consider doing so as well (as that relationship is becoming a problem as well). The message in such a meeting needs to be clear: get on the same page or get out. If this isn’t done, expect the divide to grow further in the locker room.
DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten
Wait WHAT? What have these two done wrong you ask? Well it isn’t what they have done, but rather what they have not done.
What you have here are two EXTREMELY talented players that are far too soft spoken. Yeah, yeah, lead by example, but the problem is no one is watching right now. Someone needs to snap them back to attention on both sides of the football.
You cannot question the toughness of these two players. You can’t question how hard they work and they do not cause problems (unless you believe the rumor Witten is unnamed source that started this mess). They do all the right things, but they need to take that next step and get in some faces when people start to mope on the sidelines.
While it is good to speak softly and carry a big stick, there are situations were you have to yell in someones face like a drill sergeant to wake them up.
The Media Circus
I’m not talking about beat writers and press conferences. I mean the Hard Knocks, T.O.’s new reality show, and Michael Irvin’s new reality show (which will literally give some random guy a training camp invite). These need to go. All these do is serve to make a bigger joke of this organization when everything is said and done.
The focus needs to be on football and not cameras. You’ll get your due attention if you win, there is no need to force the issue with these ridiculous endeavors.
And there you have it, my long rambling of what is wrong with the Cowboys. I don’t even have much of a conclusion…right now I am just hoping that something within the Cowboys changes, otherwise I think I will be looking to another frustrating and sickening season.