Mounting Pressure

On the cusp of Training Camp Eve, the players will be snuggled in their Residence Inn beds while visions of wins and a sixth Lombardi Trophy dances in their heads. Parcells with his whistle and Jones addressing the Cap, will all settle in for an intense and crucial Camp. With the Christmas version of football upon us, what's to expect? Allow me to take a couple cuts at the 2005 prognostication fastballs headed our way.

My assessments of the offense will be quick and painless. Bottom line, with the possible exception of right tackle, I have neither great expectations nor concerns. How's that for getting out on the limb? Regardless of which one, keeping Drew upright is Priority #1. The front side (throwing hand) pressure has to be minimized, and I have faith the Cowboys will unearth an answer prior to the Oxnard tents folding.

In a word, the Cowboys' offense will be "methodical."

No flash. No glitz. No glamour. The garden variety three yards and a cloud of plastic and tire rubber. Ball control. Clock eaters. Move the chains. Other than No. 21, there is no "wow" to this unit. If you're expecting the '99 Rams or Barnum & Bailey, you're in for a long season. Expect offensive football portrayed in the Meadowlands circa early 1990's. Substitute Witten for Bavaro, and there you have it.

OK, enough of the offense and onto the theme which dictates and sets the tone for the entire 2005 season. Pressure. It's all about pressure. Nothing more; nothing less. Two, specific forms of pressure. Those being getting after the opposition QB and human blood pressure. Huh? Let's examine.

We'll all consent money and attentions were thrown at the defensive side of the ball during the off-season. While it wasn't my coin, I'm certainly looking for a return on investment, and if I am, can you imagine the expectations in the Owner's suite? Be it veteran savvy or youthful exuberance, our front seven, and occasionally, a member of the secondary, must find their way into the opposition's pocket and backfield. Without continuous and sustained pressure, I suggest an early call to your health provider.

Try this one on for size. 3-4? 4-3? Who cares?! This is the most talked-about and overrated concern heading into the 2005 campaign. Are we really worried about the scheme, or does the core concern rest in the results? If not gravitating towards the latter, let me suggest a change of focus. I could care less what they contrive and implement. The only thing I want to see running is the opposition QB. For his proverbial life.

Pressure leads directly to mistakes, and the lack of forced errors have created a drought of epidemic proportions over the last five years. Save your 2003 #1 defensive ranking argument for someone more gullible. Smoke and mirrors. This pressure concern can be summarized in one 2004 play. I ask you "is Donovan McNabb still on the loose?" At last count, his Monday night scramble is now up to 8 months and counting. All the King's horses and all the King's men...

Was there a more humiliating and manifest moment during last season?

Do your own math. Once you get to 5-Mississippi, you've got major problems. Separation and coverage breakdowns surface, passing lanes open, and running alleys go from cobblestone to freeway in a hurry. Not getting to and grounding the QB leads to the most unpleasant of secondary monikers. Toast. Burnt toast. They get exposed, but the problems originated up front. No pressure; no capitalistic opportunities.

It's all about forced errors and take-a-ways. Turnover differential and field position is the name of the game, and they'll outright determine most contests.

All of which leads to blood pressure. Check your pulse. You heard me. Check it. Now install this……..3-4. Parcells' baby. All eyes will be watching, evaluating and critiquing. Reduce these thoughts to stone right now. There will be mistakes and many of them. The sooner you accept it, the more tolerant you'll be. Youth, in and of itself, denotes growing pains. I wouldn't be holding my "perfection sought" breath through September and early October. No season is ever won in September and October, but it sure can be lost that early. I, along with the entire Cowboys' Nation, will pray for progress and success, but what happens in the absence of either?

What type of New Jersey stubbornness will we see? The same passed off rhetoric we heard when the Drew Henson cry went out? Parcells belting out, "We're still in it." Will heels be dug in with boasts of "By golly, this is my system, and I'll be damned if it won't work," be heard or will the head coach have the ability and courageousness to admit "this was a mistake." And herein rests the future of Bill Parcells. Flexibility or lack thereof.

The experiment is not going to work for every team trying to make the defensive conversion.

I can only hope this coaching staff isn't operating on an all-or-nothing proposition. The answer to success is a blended approach, and this should ring clarity in all the ears of those panicked about Greg Ellis and La'Roi Glover. Breathe people. As in 3-4 and 4-3. Combination. Mix it up. Keep offensive coordinators sleepless and guessing while at the same time keeping your personnel fresh. Isn't keeping opposition offenses off balance our most effective plan of attack?

Cardiologists in the Metroplex and across the Cowboys' Nation, get ready. Those that play the market, pony up all the Pfizer and Merck stock you can muster as blood pressure levels are predestined to soar. I'm not into predictions, so as it relates to "pressure," I'm not siding with one outcome or the other. However, I'm doing my best public service and Good Samaritan duty of informing you to be, like a good Boy Scout, PREPARED.

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