SNAKE HANDLING: Head coach Bill Parcells said Tuesday that when Denver quarterback Jake Plummer was a free agent a few years ago, the Cowboys did consider signing him. But in the end, owner Jerry Jones shelved the idea.
"One of the things Jerry indicated to me was that he had invested some
time and money in (Quincy) Carter and (Chad) Hutchinson, and he said he
really didn't know what we had. So he wanted to take a year before
piling more money into (the quarterback position)."
Parcells then said that he is not surprised by the high level at which
Plummer has played this year.
"(Denver head coach) Mike Shanahan has done a tremendous job with him, a
tremendous job at letting him do what he does well," Parcells said.
"They're able to run the ball and have him roll out on bootlegs, that
kind of thing. Of course, it's only effective when you're playing with
the lead. He played from behind a lot when he was in Arizona."
Defensive end Greg Ellis said he also sees a dramatic change in Plummer
from his days with the Cardinals.
"They've shown you they're going to run the ball, but you can't just
sit back and say you're going to play the run, because then Jake will
hurt you on the roll-outs. Jake had too much placed on him in Arizona.
What Shanahan has done is built an offense around the run, just like he
always does, and when that's successful, that allows Jake to run."
RUNAROUND: Parcells said that the Broncos have arguably the best running game in
the entire NFL, and that the Broncos employ the system the Cowboys try
"They have a very solid running game," he said. "By virtue of that,
they're able to play-action. Basically, they're going to run the ball
hard. Then they can bootleg off the run, and they can play-action off
the run. They try to get the ball out of Plummer's hands quickly, and
then three for times a game, they'll take a deep shot (downfield)."
But what Parcells really admires, he said, is the way Denver rotates
running backs Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell.
"We would actually like to do that," Parcells said. "They're trying to
do the same things we try to do. They just do it very well.
"They don't run complicated schemes. They're totally about execution.
If you look at their games, they have a staple of two or three plays.
They'll add another two or three a week, depending on what they want to
do, but they're not going to roll out 12 diffferent running plays, I
In addition to its prolific running attack, Denver has gained a measure
of notoriety in recent years for employing offensive linemen who are
generally considered small and quick by today's NFL standards, and are
known for utilizing some unpopular tactics, such as chop blocking and
"Philosophically, you attribute that to (former offensive line coach)
Alex Gibbs (now with the Atlanta Falcons) a little bit," he said. "He
taught that system there, and they're doing the exact same schemes now
A potential recipient of the anticipated chop blocks, Ellis
understandably is not a fan of the technique.
"That's a part of their scheme," Ellis said. "We realize that's part of
what they do. Three plays out of four, they're going to cut you.
"But you can't go soft out there or play back. You have to have good
technique and you have to try to be aware of where people are."
Parcells agreed, saying that it's vital that the Cowboys' defensive
linemen conscious of what's going around them.
"You've got to be alert, justle and move your hands quickly," Parcells
said. "If you don't do that, you're going to get chopped."
For his part, Ellis said he wishes the league would outlaw such
"They (the NFL) really need to do something about it," Ellis said. "We
(defensive linemen) have been complaining for years. I don't agree with
it, but that's what they do. You don't go out there worrying (about
getting hurt), because that's when you will get hurt. You just have to
go out there and play football."
SHARPENING THE EDGE: While waiting his turn behind starter Drew Bledsoe, backup quarterback
Tony Romo lost a little of his intensity during practice. Parcells was
nice enough to let him know about it.
"I had a little dit-down with Romo a few weeks ago," Parcells said. "I
put him in for a few reps (in practice) and I didn't think he had the
same edge that he had coming out of camp, when I thought he was very
"But he's a very bright, studious guy who's mature enough now as a pro
player that I know he'll prepare as a starter, even though he might not
Parcells said he doesn't regret his decision not to play Romo earlier
in some games this season.
"It's easy to sit here in the air conditioning and talk about it, but
after some of the games we've been involved in, (a lead of) 20 points
doesn't seem that safe."
RELAX ON YOUR OWN TIME: Parcells said he's not concerned that the short week before Thursday's
game against the Broncos will leave his players weary.
"It's their job to rest," he said. "I'm not working them at a pace
that's wearing them out," he said. "Their job is to get their feet up
at night, and hydrate. That's a part we've known all along (about the
Cowboys playing three games in 11 days, the last of which is Thursday's
game with Denver.) They need to just suck it up and go."
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