APB ...Where's The "O?"

The Christmas holiday looms so the only sugarcoating necessary directly correlates to sprinkle cookie and fudge preparation.

Sunday's tilt with the Giants ranked as the most crucial and meaningful during the Parcells' tenure in Dallas. Externally, the Cowboys Nation walked and talked with quart-sized swagger, but the contest revealed what most feared internally. This organization is still "off" when it comes to playing "meaningful" post season football. Collectively, they came up small with the offense proving vastly diminutive to its defensive brethren. True, they may back or luck into a wildcard slot (should the rest of the NFC chips fall accordingly), but that's where the fun stops.

Have they achieved participant status? Maybe. Considered a competitive combatant? Hardly.

There are offensive warts all over this 2005 compilation. Indeed, those are "snickers" from Buffalo heard in the background. It probably took longer than most in Western New York anticipated, but the Drew Bledsoe tendencies they experienced in Orchard Park are starting to surface, and they couldn't come at a worse time.

It would be most unfair to pin all the misfortunes on #11's back. It's certainly not all his doing, but his mistakes, because of the position he plays, are magnified and amplified well beyond those of fellow teammates. However, his cement-laden cleats are an issue. A grandiose, heavy, slow-moving issue!! As pocket pressure mounts, his lateral movement abilities dwindle, and his cleats seem to literally adhere to the playing surface. His inability to side-step would-be pursuers creates turtle-like (retreating to the shell) images which are becoming all too familiar. It's not a pretty sight.

Yes, Flozell Adams is missed. Yes, Rob Petitti is a rookie. Yes, Marco Rivera is currently overpaid. Check that. Grossly-overpaid. Yes, the Johnson/Gurode tag team is somewhere less than consistent. In conjunction, all are contributing to the offensive decline, but none more noteworthy than the team's All-Pro tight end being reduced to a regular participant on the blocking sled. A sixth lineman if you will. No, they don't have much of a choice when it comes to Jason Witten these days, and opposing defensive coordinators are grinning from ear to ear on a weekly basis.

Witten's role as a blocker allows opposition LBs the opportunity to either blitz Bledsoe or lock on any Cowboy entrusted with carrying the ball. Not having to account for a game-altering TE in the passing game, the latitude and risk-taking afforded an opposition defense is greatly intensified. Thus, Bledsoe, on third and one, is confronted with forcing a 15 yard out into double coverage trying to locate Terry Glenn. With absolutely no intent of going for it on fourth down, a high-percentage run is traded in for a virtually impossible Marino-like attempt. Yikes. Is this what it's come to?

The Cowboys offense is becoming alarmingly inept of late, and the trend is most disturbing. Unfortunately, the barometer game revealed exactly where the 2005 Cowboys stand. Somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line when it comes to total team effectiveness, and low barometers and December are not a good NFL mix.

The running game is hit or miss, and once again, hit or miss is a December no-no in the NFL. Take a glance at Sunday's WR stats. One has to strain awfully hard to even notice a blip on the radar screen. These are the shocking revelations currently tied to this club. Frightening and teetering very close to non-existent. Bad things tend to happen when one-dimensional, and the single dimension seems to be on sabbatical. Patrick Crayton returns and Peerless Price departs. Why the shock? If not utilizing the WR ranks, why not create space for potential offensive line help?

The Cowboys are trying to rely solely on a young and evolving defense, and while very encouraging for the future, it's a dangerous proposition coming down the stretch seeking a post season invitation. They're asking the defense to be close to perfect, while in concert with stellar special teams, and these expectations are of the unfulfilling nature. Simply, it's too much to ask of this group. The offense has to be able to lend a helping hand, but with the current state of affairs can barely afford an assisting finger.

Parcells says the first to 11 victories emerges with the division title. OK, that's not happening. Not this year. Not with Carolina, at their place, on the December docket. Plain and simple, this club is not winning out. Nothing on the schedule is of the "picnic or walk in the park" nature. The upcoming Kansas City game will determine it all. A win is necessary to stay in the NFC hunt which also doubles as a quagmire. Yes, Sunday is "must win." If there is any chance of meaningful implications on New Year's Day, the Cowboys must find a way to manufacture at least 26 points against the visiting Chiefs. Lose the KC game, and New Year's Day is nothing but a bad hangover.

How pivotal a season can become. In one chilly Meadowlands afternoon, the Cowboys went from a destiny in control to a venture of the great unknown. However, it wasn't like the pimples showed up on game day as the acne has been offensively gathering for weeks. Sparing everyone the "it ain't over till it's over" clichés, the Cowboys need to dig down deep into the intestinal fortitude barrel and fish out some post season aspirations. Gone are the days of the multi-dimensional weaponry on display in the early ‘90's, so the battle is an offensive uphill struggle, week in and week out. Parcells is on record as saying they're all important at this juncture, but none more so than Sunday's foe. Sure, Tampa, Atlanta and Carolina are going to knock each other around for the remainder of December, but it's time to take personal fate out of the hands of others. So, it's off to the Ouija Board and a healthy rendition of "Oh Where Oh Where Can the Offense be?"

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