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Panic in Big D?

Posted By David Willow On Oct 22 2010 @ 3:01 pm In Dallas Cowboys | No Comments

There are a lot of mixed signals coming out of Dallas this week as they get set to face the New York Giants in what could end up being an elimination game for the team if they lose. This shouldn’t be all that surprising though for a team with high expectations a game away from losing almost all hope of post season contention.

Owner Jerry Jones, who has taken a calm approach when addressing the media, has expressed faith that the team can rally and still contend for a playoff spot. However, it was reported that Jones addressed the team Monday and his feelings weren’t quite the same. DeMarcus Ware, the team’s leading pass rusher, said the message was “It’s put up or shut up time”. Most of us knew that the optimism that Jones showed in public was a bit of Jekyll and Hyde¬† scenario, and that the owner wasn’t happy with the team. But the pressure the team must be feeling coming into Monday night against the Giants is mounting. The Cowboys will be playing for their season.

So how will the team respond? They responded well against the Texans and had a lot of momentum going into their bye week, but came out flat against Minnesota. The team will likely play strong knowing what is on the line, but what will probably be more intriguing will be how the team faces the rest of the season win or lose.

The Giants are a team that has pulled itself together after a slow start to the season, and are sitting atop the NFC East. They have gotten their pass rush back and are holding things down well in the secondary. Along with a budding star wide out in Hakeem Nicks, coupled with the strong play of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who is looking like Tiki Barber running the ball, the Giants are starting to fire on all cylinders.

It’s a bad combination the Cowboys are facing, especially with the problems the entire team is having. Wade Phillips brought in referees this week to help with the team’s problem with penalties during practice, but had them ref the practices that they ran at half speed and in shorts. It’s makes even the most unschooled fan scratch their heads asking what the coaching staff is thinking. Surely, running the practice not only in pads, but at full speed is the best way to address their issues with penalties. Simulating real game circumstances would be the best way to address the problems right? It leaves little faith to be inspired and again begs the question “How much longer will Wade Phillips be around”? It’s becoming more and more obvious that when the team faces an issue, Phillips doesn’t have the answer. What frustrates people, and probably the players, is Phillips’ lack of a sense of urgency. Even now, he thinks things looked good and players are working as expressed at his press conference and shows little concern. Which is not to say he isn’t concerned, but this is a game of passion and Phillips isn’t really showing any. His lackadaisical attitude is contagious and rubs off on the players. I don’t remember players playing like this under Parcells.

The Cowboys are also missing that “It” factor and are in desperate need of a player or coach with that desire to rise above adversity when the game is on the line. The team needs an “It” player, a star that the team can follow, and though there are a ton of talented players there isn’t one on the team that is their go to guy each game. Romo is a great quarterback, but doesn’t show the ability to carry the team himself, so who is the go to player with the game on the line? Miles Austin? Austin has the potential. He is one of the most complete players on the team with size, speed, and power. Yet there have been 2 games where Austin has been almost completely ignored. Instead the offense seems intent on forcing the ball to the less talented duo of Roy Williams and Dez Bryant. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have everyone involved and the two have looked good, but it seems a bit like Jason Garrett is forcing plays their way unnecessarily in an effort to show what the team has.

It’s good to finally see that Garrett is sticking with one guy as a primary back, but is Felix Jones really a player that can put the team on his back?¬† And now Garrett seems to be taking the quagmire he created at the running back position and is sending it to the wide receiver position. It’s kind of strange how we complain about the lack of discipline in the players, but the coaches are also showing that same lack of discipline.

When it comes to the game against the Giants, the Cowboys have a tall order and will likely play like a team with their backs against the wall, because their backs are against the wall. We can expect good play from both sides of the ball, because, again, they are talented on both sides. But what will be interesting to see is how they respond late in the game after both teams have felt each other out and dug in. The Cowboys need this win in a big way.

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