Remember When?

Could last season's 41-20 Thanksgiving Day blowout loss to the Dolphins have been the beginning of the Cowboys' woes this season?

The Cowboys were 8-3 going into that game. They went 2-3 the rest of the way and have gone 5-10 since, including the 3-7 mark this season.

Did the Dolphins offense, which ran over and through the Cowboys defense, expose the weaknesses of a unit that went from No. 1 in the league last season to its hapless current state of 25th?

"I don't know," frustrated defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "I never looked at it that way. Right now it's all just tough to deal with."

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells also discounts that Miami exposed the Cowboys. He said the Dolphins simply overpowered his defense.

But what is true about the demise of the Cowboys defense is that they have continued to be overpowered on the ground. And their pass defense has gone from bad to abysmal. Opponents have held up strong against their blitz packages, which worked well a year ago. An inability to rush the passer has further exposed a suspect secondary.

While it's easy to point at the team's cornerback woes, Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams has typified the Cowboys' problems this year.

He is at his playmaking best when he lines up close to the line of scrimmage to support the run and blitz off the edge. However, the season-long absence of safety Darren Woodson has forced the Cowboys to use Williams more in coverage. That is not is strength.

Williams is second on the Cowboys in tackles with 68. Many of them are in the secondary. He has no sacks, no interceptions, no forced fumbles. Simply, the team's best player has had little impact. Last season at this time, Williams has two sacks, two tackles for losses, an interception and two forced fumbles.

Since this strategy has seemingly not worked, why not put Williams back in the box and just let him do what he does best? "That's easier said than done," Parcells said. "Because when you're playing the position that he plays, when you put him back in the box, then you have not much of a way to help your cornerback on the weak side. That's been a little bit part of the dilemma."

Because of Williams' problems in coverage, Parcells said it's not ludicrous to think that he could move to outside linebacker. He said that is not consideration for the Cowboys.

THE SERIES: 20th meeting. Dallas leads the series 11-8. Chicago won the last meeting, 13-12 on Oct. 18, 1998. Dallas has won three of the last five meetings.

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