Role Reversal

When teamwork is combined with a sprinkle of bravado, seasons can be salvaged on any given Sunday in December.

Case in point, Texas Stadium playing host to a sea of red which doubled as a smaller version of Arrowhead. It had shades of last year's Pittsburgh tilt when a third of Heinz Field was in attendance, but even the raucous KC contingency couldn't steal the spotlight from Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn.

Mr. Glenn is certainly one of the hallmark acquisitions affixed to the Jones family watch. For every painful remnant and memory brought this way via the Joey Galloway heist (Seattle, you're welcome), Terry Glenn\seems to ease the pain provided by the Galloway tenure in Dallas. Folks, let it be known Terry Glenn was acquired for Andy Lee. Yup, Andy Lee. Dallas sent Green Bay a sixth round draft choice for Glenn's services, and the Packers immediately forwarded the draft spot to San Francisco who eventually used the pick on Andy Lee. With Parcells previous knowledge of Glenn and his abilities, it looks like complete larceny, especially with Bledsoe arriving two years after to complete the New England reunion. It was just a matter of selecting the right Buckeye.

While extremely soft-spoken and private, don't underestimate the confidence of Terry Glenn. This was offered up following Sunday's collision with the Chiefs in which Glenn and Bledsoe hooked up on a 71-yard flea flicker executed to perfection. Prior to the snap, Glenn allowed himself to check the yard marker placement. He noted, "I wanted to see how long the touchdown was going to be." Confidence. Something the Cowboys offense hadn't experienced or displayed in almost a solid month, and on a day when the Dallas D was getting a dose of Chief vitality, it couldn't have come at a more defining moment in the season.

In a "must win" match up, role reversal was witnessed in North Dallas. The defense had been holding things together, allowing last minute opportunities for victory, but the offense was rendered impotent. On Sunday, the former "Patriot link" decided it was going to render a historic display of its own.

Of late, one half of the link has been literarily and verbally flogged for pocket ineptitude. Present company included. No, the cement-constructed cleats and lateral movement tendencies didn't magically disappear, but the perceived offensive constraints certainly dissipated. The young, offensive tackles were told to fortify the perimeter without "chip blocking" assistance, and for the most part, they complied. Jason Witten was returned to route running, and even Mr. Polite was allowed to effectively roam the flats. Amazing what can happen when a team is allowed to play to its strengths. Why try to be something you're not? Yes, Big Bill dislikes shoot outs and gunslinger mentalities. He's old school. He prefers smash mouth football dictated by punishing defenses and reliable special teams. So be it, and it's all good as long as there is personnel in place to carry it out.

The Cowboys don't. Nothing against this young, aggressive defense, but they're a year or two away from the dominant label, and the special teams are consistently inconsistent. Thus, the fire power has to be sought and relied upon. Regardless of preferred style of play, when didn't scoring more points than the opponent render a "W" in the ledger?

Not sure about the masses and Cowboys faithful, but a certain inquiring mind wants to know the specifics of the Cowboys game planning and play calling duties. How much is attributable to Parcells? How much of it is Payton? How much is done in tandem? Are there style differences and preferences amongst the two? Is Parcells mired in conservatism? Is Payton the opportunist? Vice versa? Not knowing the depth of responsibilities leads all to speculate.

Two things remain constant. When the offense wants to adorn aggressive play, they come to compete and successfully execute a game plan. When they elect to crawl inside their conservative shell, they hibernate with the best of them. All leading to this inquiry…..is this by design? Is it another Parcells mind game looking to be cast upon the League? Is it a diversion playing itself out in pursuit of the post season? Will someone please pull back the mystery curtain so as to reveal the lever puller, button pusher and knob turner on this Cowboys version of Oz??!!

Teams will have both good and bad days. It's just life in pro football and has been since players went without protective head gear. The Cowboys are certainly no different, but there is something fishy about this 2005 approach to the offensive side of the ball. And despite any intended or unintended theatrics, a hat has to go off to Drew Bledsoe. He most certainly cast aside the growing public sentiment and allowed his playing and passing abilities to ascend to the surface. Say what you will about the flawless flea-flicker, but it was another strike which seemed to tell the entire story.

The Witten 26-yard touchdown was a thing of beauty. Bar none, Bledsoe's best throw of the season. When the play clock hit the 10 second mark, he checked out of the primary play call, adjusted the alignment and proceeded to hone in on his singled-up TE. He threads the needle, and the throw was right on the money. Sure, he's been tossing it around NFL yards for years, but this was a statement play and highly-fitting to have Witten (the conformed chip and double team block artist) on the recipient end of the toss. Witten had to come back to productive pass-catching fold, especially on a day when T-Newman and Killer Davis couldn't remember whose turn it was to baby sit Eddie Kennison with four minutes to play. It provided a confidence and swagger which ultimately set the stage for the final drive.

Again, the burning questions will never be answered due to the Parcells lockdown on information conveyance and the need for team unity. Understood to a point, but it's still a mystery as to whom, on occasion, allows this offense to THRIVE??!! Whomever, it must continue for the next three contests. Any reversion back to the "time of possession" is everything mantra and kiss the playoff yellow-brick road goodbye.

In order for these Cowboys to compete effectively, Bledsoe must gun, Glenn must run, Keyshawn must fun, and Witten must do everything possible to refrain from becoming the sixth linemen. The Dallas defense is darn good, but the playoffs, if made, will reveal many offenses which are Kansas City-like. In order for the Cowboys to partake and possibly advance, they, too, must regularly be Kansas City-like. Better yet, adopt the explosive philosophy and simply become Dallas-like.

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