Collective Meltdown

It seemed only yesterday DeMarcus Ware was flying all over the Monday night screen, during a preseason tilt in Seattle, showcasing his goods and allowing the Nation to see what the Cowboys future had in store.

All looked bright on that August night, and pens from everywhere ordained the 2005 Draft a huge success. Now, 48+ hours removed from Def Con 4 meltdown, it's rather comical to look back on the knee-jerk reaction of sizeable proportions. Judging draft classes this side of 3 years is nothing more than utter speculation and wishful thinking. Especially throwing out post-draft grades like candy when players haven't even put on a professionally issued jock.

This just in. Demarcus Ware and other classmates have hit a wall. HARD. The impact of which won't be known until they line up on Saturday to confront the Panthers. What will be on display? How will this team react to the pasting administered by the Redskins? Will anything resembling pride surface in Bank of America Stadium? All very viable questions following a shellacking of biblical stature. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when the game film projector started to roll. No one was escaping wrath at some point during the viewing, and for the players sake, hopefully it was a pre-lunch matinee. The question of every fan, coach and player had to be, "How could this happen and why with such ineptitude at every phase of the game?"

Legal or not, Marcus Washington set the tone when he rang the bell of Jason Witten. Post-game comments from Cowboys safety Willie Pile revealed, "Everything they ran we were coached up on." Add commentary from Keith Davis noting, "They took it to us." No spit. All making the Parcells post-game statement following the Chiefs contest highly confusing. He boldly pronounced, "I like my team." You were referring to the same squad, which took the field in Washington, right Bill? One has to ask, in a span of a week, what the heck happened? Stranger things have been known to occur, but it seems highly unlikely a coach of Parcells stature, magnitude and experience would lose both a staff and team inside of seven days. If so, then what transpired and whom do you affix the failures of so many? Like Mike Tyson squaring off against Buster Douglas, this was not foreseen. It's the kind of loss that can set back an up and coming franchise years. Especially when you combine up and coming with young. Not to say it will, but veteran leadership and professional coaching need to quickly step to the forefront. What does Charlotte hold in store for the Cowboys?

Putting the X's and O's, game planning and execution (or lack thereof) aside, the troubling questions are these. Where were the emotion, heart and desire? Where was the sense of urgency? Doesn't pulling the star down over the ears evoke some type of instilled pride? How could this team "flat line" straight out of the visitor's tunnel? All very puzzling, and there is absolutely no justification for lack of want!! How can fans be left with any other perception? With all that hung in the balance, it's disheartening not to see Jerry step in and verbally pronounce Sunday's display as "unacceptable behavior." His personal bank account affords the head coach the opportunity to roam the sidelines for $4+ million dollars a year. His payroll, complete with signing and roster bonuses galore, deserved better. At the very least, he was owed effort.

Blame was as plentiful as George Bailey's Christmas giving, but this one resides squarely in the hands and at the feet of Coach Parcells. Yes, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame Bill Parcells. No, he didn't run, pass, throw or tackle, but he was entrusted with the delegation and execution of these football basics. It starts and stops with the one darning the whistle. The same whistle he has intimated at wanting to hand off to others but finding no takers. Are there talent deficiencies and personnel questions throughout the roster? Sure there are. Those needs can be sought, bought and rectified, but how do you account for lack of heart and soul? How can every phase of the game disappear in mid-December with playoff implications on the horizon? Coaches are paid handsomely to maintain the focus and prevent things like this from happening. As a long-time proponent of pay-for-performance, it's suggested an entire coaching staff and game day roster of 45 produce personal checkbooks and make all funds (as in "re") payable to Jerry Jones.

While there are many things to like about Coach Parcells, taking personal ownership and claiming responsibility is not one of them. Flat out, it doesn't exist. Just once, especially in a game of this magnitude, you'd like to hear, "This one's on me fellas." Instead, fans and players are left with meaningless; frigid stare downs directed at kickers. It accomplishes nothing and just reinforces the "bully" image Parcells thrives on portraying. If one must bully, why not take care of those matters on the way to Washington or reserve the antics for the charter home? Any sign of reinforcement, encouragement and banding together would be most welcomed. You know, almost coach-like. Is it suggested NFL players need to be babied? No, but it never hurt to be coached up at every turn. What is the return on investment as it relates to bullying? Its either bullying or fortified stubbornness. Should the masses just take Parcells at face value when he ensures all he consulted with Bledsoe about coming out of the game in the third quarter? Was it an act of acquiescing to the player or instilling public humiliation? Any coach in his right mind, with playoffs still a possibility, would have parked his starting quarterback for the remainder of the circus. One, late, mop up, garbage time hit turns that "possibility" into improbability of the highest order.

No, this piece has nothing to do with Chicken Little. None whatsoever. There is quality talent to mold, coach and encourage. However, Jerry has a huge question to answer. Does he move forward with Parcells? And if so, in the same capacity? Is Parcells the guy to carry out the necessary tasks at hand? This remains the most compelling of all the questions, and only one guy gets to provide the answer. All eyes will be on Jones to see what the future holds. If Jerry elects to proceed with Parcells, he needs an immediate commitment from the coach. The commitment needs to be one of contract satisfaction or extension. He needs to show his players he'll honor his word and obligation.

It should be noted here the word "quit" was never used throughout this entire passage, and it was never implied the team threw in the towel. There's a huge difference between lying down and not being mentally prepared for the biggest contest of the year. It's the latter that reared its ugly head in the Nation's capitol. All begging the question, what's next?

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