The Dallas Cowboys: WWJD?
Awoke this morning with several random musings:
*I wonder, in light of Pacman Jones’ indefinite suspension by NFL poobah Roger Goodell, if Cowboys’ head coach Wade Phillips is convinced yet that something actually happened? His defiant “if there was an incident” stunt from last week just adds to his legacy of dufusdom.
*I hear that the world’s most famous bodyguard, Tommy Jones, is at least temporarily out of a job shadowing Pacman. To me that’s a sign that Pacman, who has essentially torn his winning lottery ticket to shreds, has seen his last 5-yard punt return as a Cowboy. In the end, he’ll be remembered as an entirely average player who was more trouble than he was worth. Not unlike Dennis Rodman’s cameo with the Mavericks.
*Scariest sentence in the English language: “Jerry is gonna tell you exactly what happened.” Wade probably believed it at the time, but seriously, has there ever been a more shoddy internal investigation, followed by a more laughable attempt at spin control? Embarrassing. Makes you wonder if Jerry honestly thought he was going to get away with it?
*The Cowboys enter Sunday’s game without their punter (Sam Paulescu takes over for Mat McBriar), kickoff returner (Felix Jones) or coverage maven (Sam Hurd) but with assistant coach Bruce Read still operable. And you thought the special teams were already bad?
*Not sure what Shaun King ever did to ascend to a pulpit, but he was just on ESPN making me choke on my Frosted Flakes. “This team isn’t going to the Super Bowl,” King ranted about the Cowboys. “Jerry is showing chinks in his armor. This team has 8-8 or 9-7 written all over it.”
*In the history of organized sports, has there ever been a more relevant team with a post-season losing streak going on 12 years?
*But mostly, considering the Cowboys’ lack of leadership and void of discipline, I wondered this morning WWJD? Not Jesus (Christ). Jimmy (Johnson).
Having been the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Cowboys beat writer during Johnson’s reign, I know the answer:
Before the dirty jocks were packed Sunday night in Arizona, Read would have been fired and Pacman would have been cut and Bobby Carpenter demoted to the practice squad. Just, ya know, to get people’s attention. To ensure that players were focused, responsible and unwilling to accept mediocrity.
Sunday morning on Fox Jimmy was bemoaning the Cowboys' "lack of accountability" concerning Pacman. He was trying to act mad, but inside you just know he was giddy that Jerry is on the verge of having hired another Barry Switzer.
There’s a huge swath between Bill Parcells and Switzer/Phillips and, looking back, Jimmy struck the perfect balance. His players had fun, had input. But there was no doubt who was the boss.
Phillips stood up after last Sunday’s debacle in the desert and again took up for his players, actually trying to sell us all a load of “that was almost a miracle finish.” Almost?! Rang about as hollow – about as maddening – as last year’s “we got to the final eight” after the playoff loss to the Giants. Then there was Jerry, having the audacity to claim “I like 4-2” in spite of his team starting 3-0 and then pratfalling 1-2 against three teams it was favored against.
On Dec. 27, 1992 the Cowboys hosted the Chicago Bears in a meaningless season finale at Texas Stadium. At 12-3, Dallas had already clinched the NFC East and the playoff’s No. 2 seed. In the fourth quarter of the 27-14 win, backup running back Curvin Richards -- a fourth-round draft pick -- fumbled twice. By the time we left the press box, Richards was cut.
Jimmy, remember, even once benched Michael Irvin for a half after the star receiver was late for a team flight to Detroit. His abrupt release of Swervin' Curvin certainly got the attention of his team, which a month later won the Super Bowl. As for Wade, before last year's meaningless finale in Washington he actually asked Terrell Owens if he wanted to play.
Inmates 1, Asylum 0.
The lack of leadership on this year’s talented team is alarming. Carpenter continues to steal money as a flailing, ineffective special teams player. Read’s units – littered with long kickoff returns, blocked punts and onsides kicks – are wholly incomprehensible. And T.O., though annointed as a captain, refused to speak to the media after Sunday’s loss.
Wade showed a little anger on Tuesday. He called the blocked punt – in which Tony Curtis never laid a paw on Arizona’s Sean Morey -- “inexplicable.” He said “damn.” Twice.
“We work on punt block every single day, every damn day,” Phillips almost fumed. “We’ve gotta get it fixed.”
It’s a start, but when Phillips then softly meanders back into “we won the turnover battle” you realize a hard, accountable edge just isn’t in his DNA. When you’re 13-3, you’re a players coach. When you’re 4-2, you’re a dufus.
It’s already done. – Richie Whitt