The Search Continues

Dallas LB Dexter Coakley says the Cowboys' quest for solutions keeps the team focused. <BR>

It's one thing when a team is in a playoff race, and the concentration at practice between one game and the next is centered upon minor tweaks to the system that can send that team on a lengthy postseason run.

Barring a near-miracle, the Cowboys are not in headed for the postseason. Yet head coach Bill Parcells says repeatedly that the reason he's not ready (yet) to go to a full-fledged youth movement, because he says such a move would indicate to the team that he's given up on this season -- which he insists is not yet the case.

"The search for answers has been going on for weeks," Coakley said. "Every week we say we're going back to the drawing board, back to fundamentals. It's frustrating."

Coakley said the Cowboys have no need to worry about pushing too hard in their pursuit of a reversal of fortune this season. Instead, he said that some Cowboys need to better realize the boundaries of their roles within the team.

"You can't press too hard," he said. "If everyone just takes care of their responsibilities, everything will take care of itself. And there's nobody bailing on this team. We're all still fighting."

Coackley admitted, however, that he and his teammates -- as well as Dallas fans -- got something of a charge by the performances Sunday by rookie RB Julius Jones and rookie QB Drew Henson.

"I guess everyone got to see a little glimpse of the future of the Dallas Cowboys there," Coakley said. "For Drew to come in and have his first play not go so well (Henson lost a fumble on the first snap of his NFL career) and then have him come back like he did (Henson completed 6-of-6 passes in the loss), that was impressive. And for Julius Jones, being out as long as he was, to come in and have as many carries as he did … "

Coakley agreed with Parcells' assessment that a full-blown youth movement signifies to the team that he's coaching for next year. Coakley said he and his teammates are not ready to give up on this season.

"No, we're not playing for 2005," Coakley said. "Julius is a guy who was coming on when we drafted him. Playing him -- that's not throwing up the white flag at all. And Drew got to take a few bumps and bruises, and that's what he needs to learn and be effective."

While he insisted that the team has not yet given up on the 2004 season, Coakley was mum on the subject of whether Henson should be handed the keys to the Dallas offense on a full-time basis.

"I'm not a fan of helping the coaches make decisions," Coakley said. "But it looks like Drew's the future of the team."

Coakley was quick to add that he was particularly impressed by Henson's ability to bounce back from his fumble on his first NFL play and respond with a touchdown-scoring drive when he re-entered the game.

"It's almost like a baseball mentality," Coakley said. "It's almost like he struck out in his first at-bat and then came back and got a hit in his second at-bat."

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