Conflicting Interests

Bill Parcells is fond of saying he'll play those who give the team the best opportunity to win. One would be hard-pressed to dispute the coaching philosophy.

It's a coach's responsibility to put the most productive players on the field of play. Four games into the 2006 season, Parcells seems to have mastered his own marching orders. With one huge and vital exception. Having viewed the second string quarterback's performance throughout the preseason, Drew Bledsoe does not offer up the best probability to win. Tony Romo should man the quarterback position.

Parcells loves veteran leadership and proven commodities. His most valued trait within player character is trust. He wants to know what a player, the majority of the time, will do in any given situation. As much of a horseman as he professes to be, it's a very safe bet Parcells has bankrolled track winnings by staying away from the long shots. At this stage in his football career and maturing life, he doesn't have the stomach for risk. Better safe than sorry. Spare the volatility of equities and throw everything into a fixed structure of return. He's someone who may enjoy gambling without actually being a gambler.

Cowboys' fans must realize Parcells is playing for a legacy. He wants to go out with a title, but he wants to do it with a veteran signal caller at the helm. Based on the previous three years, one could surmise he's scared to death to turn the keys over to a virtual unknown and unproven commodity. Even in contests that had no outcome significance, like last year's Rams game, he refuses to give the nod to the backup. The same holds true in the proverbial NFL mop-up duty. This is a fatal flaw in his quest to rebuild the Dallas Cowboys into a legitimate, respected and feared competitor. Parcells continues to hedge his bets with a productive defense, effective special teams and a veteran field general.

There needs to be news flash, not necessarily of the breaking nature, sent to Valley Ranch. Gentlemen, your quarterback is inconsistent. If not the top deficiency feared most, it certainly resides in the top three. The same would hold true for the backup. So, if both possess the same erratic trait, why not give the nod to the player offering more overall upside? Inconsistency being equal, why not heed to mobility, elusiveness, lateral movement, quick release and sack avoidance? Don't these five qualities provide a better chance of overall success? Isn't it safe to say Tony Romo edges out Drew Bledsoe in each of the five areas mentioned above? NFL tenure and experience do count for something, but so does critical mistakes at crucial junctures of divisional contests.

Drew Bledsoe is not good at avoiding head-on, straight-line pressure. He has very limited lateral movement. To be highly effective and production-oriented, he must be kept clean. In a NFL world containing the defenses of Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, keeping clean is virtually impossible. Today's game is populated with speed and size, and it becomes highly improbable for offensive lines to play flawless ball.

Bledsoe also has the propensity to take a sack at critical stages of a contest, and he holds the ball way too long hoping something will develop or come free. While not picturesque, there is great value in throwing the ball away to avoid negative yardage. Both elements of Bledsoe's game present dangerous situations and jeopardize field position, and everyone knows the premium Parcells places on field position. Not as frequent as the other deficiencies noted, but now there is a tendency for more throws coming from the back foot. Outside the likes of a Brett Favre, very few NFL quarterbacks have made a living by not stepping into a throw. Tony Romo will not provide perfection, but he does possess a skill set that allows him to better avoid the traditional quarterback break points. This being said, the matter must all come down to "stomach ability."

Parcells appears not to have the intestinal fortitude to tolerate Romo's style of play. It doesn't fit the Parcells' recipe for success. Does the offensive line play a hand in all the variables confronting Bledsoe? Sure they do, but if mental and physical breakdowns are a given upfront, why not counter with a quarterback better equipped to offset the OL's miscues? Once again, New Jersey stubbornness is front and center and plays a major role in the equation. East Coast inflexibility. If things continue down Inconsistency Avenue, Parcells' million-dollar ulcer (he donning the #81 jersey) is going to rupture. The Tuna was paid an extra million dollars to stomach and tolerate the volatile Owens, and he's about ready to earn every penny.

No doubt Bledsoe can find the targets, but he needs both time and a clear runway to make it happen. Barring either, look for a turbulent toss, and many have ended in crash and burn style. There's a certain flare to Romo's game, and it appears more conducive to the Cowboys' offensive assembly at the skill positions. Wouldn't you want someone pulling the trigger who is better suited to exploit the talents of your skill players? There doesn't appear to be any charge mounting in Romo's campaign to take the reigns. At least not in the foreseeable future.

The earliest Romo would be considered is Week 8 following the Monday night contest against the Giants at home. Bledsoe will rebound against the woeful Texans, and he always plays much better at Texas Stadium than on the road. So, he's Brinks truck safe for another two games and probably more. It's the contests in the Meadowlands and Fed Ex Field that present the major challenges. Bledsoe's track record against divisional opponents, especially on the road, is less than favorable. Unless something has changed, it's still all about winning the division.

It's time to give divisional opponents something they haven't seen on film and would have difficulty preparing for. Tony Romo offers up opportunity via the unknown. Are the Cowboys just prolonging the inevitable? It's time to take off the security blanket and go commando. Throw something new and exciting into the mix. Unfortunately, it may take a different head coach to bring about any such change. With the talent residing on the offensive side of the ball, this is truly a shame. The deciding factor is a committee of one, and his vote has already been cast.

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