Offensively Speaking: Who Are We?

The notion the pro game has passed Bill Parcells by is absolutely preposterous.

This is a rampant-running feeling throughout most of the Cowboys Nation. The man has applied his craft from some 40+ years, and he's most likely forgotten more football than most of us know. This is no time to put the training wheels back on the coaching bicycle.

The intentions were clear. The Jones family hired Coach Parcells to be a difference maker. They wanted his impact on several fronts. There was a charge to instill a winning philosophy and attitude throughout Valley Ranch. There was also a mandate of positioning the proud organization to compete for its sixth, and unprecedented, Lombardi Trophy. There was also the unsubstantiated offer of coaching America's Team for as long as he wanted even though the ink on the current contract reads four years.

In a very stunning move, Jerry also agreed to get out of the way when it came to X's and O's and personnel evaluation. Don't underestimate this gesture/decision for one minute. It's highly doubtful Big Bill would have taken the assignment without Jerry's agreeing to hand over the keys to the most popular vehicle in the NFL fleet.

For the better part of three years running, there has been perceived harmony. The word perceived is stressed here because of the collective mass of egos involved. They both live to win, and accepting defeat is likened to open-heart surgery without the anesthesia. A most painful proposition. While appearing harmonious, a line must be drawn between the two. Bill Parcells is a football coach. Jerry Jones is a businessman. There's a huge difference.

When will the close encounters of the NFL kind and offensive philosophy start to concern the "bottom line" guy? Everyone seems to be asking if Bill Parcells' style of play is conducive to today's NFL standards. Before you rush to an answer, ponder that thought for a moment or two. It's most difficult to question or challenge a future Hall of Fame Coach and two-time Super Bowl Champion. Besides, as evidenced by the press conferences at Valley Ranch, he won't allow the media to challenge his accomplishments or coaching acumen. The press continues to receive the input and feedback Coach Parcells wishes to instill. To hope for anything different is merely an exercise in futility.

The premise taken here is the defense is starting to round into shape. They provide the youth and exuberance needed to balance the current roster and are the essential building blocks for the future. When all the pieces are in place, this will be the Parcells' stamp. It's completely his blue print and mold. Size, speed, flexibility and opportunistic. Attack mode. It was proclaimed there would be mistakes made, and there have been, but the cohesiveness has come together quicker than most thought possible. It's assumed the Cowboys Nation would overwhelmingly approve and currently endorse with a simple "carry on."

The source of the current strife is offensive production or lack thereof. Correct? So, is it a lack of talent or an offensive philosophy, portrayed in individual game plans, which limits and hinders production? When dissected, seven games in, it's clearly both.

The Flozell Adams season-ending injury solidifies the lack of talent theory. Don't expect to see the same Jason Witten-like production of 2004. The Seattle game is indicative of the dilemma at both tackle positions. The lack of experience will require the continued TE assistance and backfield "chip" blocking. It's most difficult to know if there are lingering effects of the back injury (suffered in the off season) to Marco Rivera, but he's certainly been a costly disappointment to date. Say what you will, rotating centers is questionable at best if for nothing more than the increased potential for mishandled snaps. Finally, this unit is far from fundamentally sound when it comes to run blocking.

Thus, the style of play Parcells desires is in direct conflict with the strengths of the offensive personnel. Like it or not, the compilation of players is a "throw first" corps of soldiers. Yes, and it bears repeating. Success is contingent upon throwing to set up the run.

So, what's at work within the ranks? Stubbornness, coupled with the unwillingness to change, or a flat out refusal to make the game a semi track meet?

Flashback to the Philadelphia game for a moment. Would the masses have heard about the Parcells' Saturday night premonition had the outcome resembled anything shy of total dominance? Highly unlikely. However, if the Wednesday-implemented game plan called for attack mode, regardless of favorable field position, the personnel is certainly in place to execute Shock and Awe. That wasn't some cut-rate, makeshift defense the Cowboys ran roughshod over. The secondary, alone, contained three 2004 pro bowlers.

It's maintained in these parts, the Parcells offensive desire can still be achieved and implemented if, and only if, The Tuna is willing to view "Billy Ball" in the second half. Today's NFL doesn't allow for completely run-dominated contests with a guarantee of winning by one or three points. If teams are allowed to hang around, regardless of one completely controlling the stats throughout the contest, it's anyone's game coming down the stretch. Hence, San Diego, Washington, San Francisco, Oakland, New York and Seattle. Six of the seven 2005 match-ups have allowed a margin of error to enter deep into the fourth quarter. A condition very conducive to .500 ball, but not one to promote playoff aspirations or contending in an "air tight" division.

Why not try to set the tone early in every contest? Get the opponent on their heels and down by double digits as quickly as possible. Then let the defense do its thing while your running game looks to dominate time of possession and wear down the opposition defense in the second half. Unless something has dramatically changed in the NFL landscape, it's much easier to play with a lead than attempting to overcome a deficit. The US Postal Service can be looked to for offensive philosophy. Start delivery via airmail and as time and scoreboard dictate, move to ground shipments.

Today's NFL requires decision makers to fit offensive schemes to personnel not making the personnel fit the desired scheme. Play to the strengths. If an example is needed, simply look to the other side of the Cowboys' ball. The desired defensive scheme fits the acquired personnel. For the group entrusted with scoring the points, this needs to be fixed before the business man noted above demands a more productive bottom line throughout the second half of the 2005 football fiscal year. Besides, when has it ever been a bad thing to actually score points?

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