Not sure how your Christmas holiday has been, but it's been two straight days of utter despair in these parts. Absolute misery. When Jones intimates, "Santa Claus got hit by an airplane tonight," things must change at Valley Ranch. Prior to discussing the potential changes and the reasoning behind them, reality must be accepted by all. Reality says the Cowboys aren't playoff ready, nowhere near, and if things remain static, they'll visit Seattle's 12th Man and promptly return home for a long winter's nap. Some might concur the slumber has already started to settle in. That's the cold, hard reality.
And it shouldn't be. Shouldn't even be close.
The Cowboys have completely flat-lined against both the playoff bound Saints and Eagles. These were the two most meaningful games in the Parcells' tenure. They were implication-oriented December contests. They were at home, and Texas Stadium was ready to completely erupt if victories were secured. Both were complete, lifeless efforts by the home team. Everything set up in their favor, and the Cowboys did absolutely nothing with either opportunity. Nothing! Embarrassing was the initial reaction to both outcomes, but upon further review and reflection, each was borderline criminal. Heinous crimes committed by the home team against its greatest asset and responsibility. The fans. If you feel cheated and deprived, you should. You deserved better. Much better.
In a relative short five weeks, the Cowboys have gone from media darlings and hottest team in the NFL to an afterthought limping its way to the regular season finish line. This thing appears to be on fumes. Fortunately, or unfortunately, they've secured a post season spot, but one gets the feeling it will only prolong the inevitable. This thing has early exit written all over it. The Cowboys currently lack the two most vital elements heading into, as Parcells likes to call it, the tournament. Those factors being a difference-making defense and passion. While the first is troubling enough, as it was supposed to be the staple of this year's squad, it's the latter which is more appalling. How can you enter December, in clear contention, and lack the desire and passion to play competitive football? Isn't this what every NFL organization lives for?
You sure wouldn't know it in these parts. Close, competitive contests are one thing, but the Cowboys were throttled and completely schooled by the New Orleans Saints and the despised Philadelphia Eagles. EKG readings were needed just to prove the team actually had a pulse. Outside of a determined and lengthy run by Julius Jones, this team could have been rendered DOA. Any coach with credibility will tell you a team needs momentum and consistency throughout December. How do you build momentum and consistency when your performance is best depicted by a yo-yo? Even the wins in New York and Atlanta can't be viewed with any sort of promise or validation. Not with a defense allowing 400 yards of offense to each opponent. Opponent's time of possession and third down conversion percentages are putting a stranglehold on this team. It's most difficult to score points from the bench, a place where the Cowboys offense seems to have taken up residency of late. It's a pretty sad state of affairs.
Snap decisions and knee-jerk reactions happen every weekend in NFL cities across the League, so it does take some analysis and searching to root out core problems. The New Orleans and Philly contests provided enough blame to cascade the entire organization, and there were blemishes exhibited by all involved, but when you break down the flaws, hurdles and obstacles of the last three years, you're left with two very glaring issues. The head coach and his "must have" 3-4 defensive scheme. Many are quick to jump the coordinators, especially Mike Zimmer, for the deficiencies, but how can the masses assess that blame without concrete evidence Zimmer and others are the culprits of the dismal performances? Without rock-solid proof, you're left to speculate, uncover common themes and shared dynamics. By design, all signs point back to the guy calling all the football-related shots. That being the very average and over-stayed welcome of one Bill Parcells.
Jerry, four years removed from a very good (at the time) decision, it's time to move on. Parcells' arrogance, stubbornness and predictability have this organization paralyzed in type-cast mold and inflexible philosophies. There are many, many examples, but running Marion Barber three straight times in the Philly game is the most recent and perfect example of the "we're going to do it my way" demeanor which is handcuffing progress and creativity. Suffice it to say, by Week 15 in today's NFL, a team's tendencies and preferences are pretty well known to the football world. One would have thought Parcells figured Andy Reid had spent the last 4 months holed up in some rock bunker with the ever-elusive Bin Laden. Certainly Reid wouldn't have encountered the Cowboys' desire and success to run Marion Barber in close?! The fact a play-action pass never made an appearance in that series is unforgivable. It's called keeping a defense honest.
By silencing his coaching staff, the outside world knows nothing about the game day decisions and responsibilities. Hey Bill, if this is the mandate you have on the organization, don't for one minute deflect or deny any responsibility. Without knowing the pecking order, the only person to hold accountable is the head coach. It all starts and stops right there. Jerry has given Parcells everything asked for and more, so there are no relevant and pardoned excuses. None. Not even injuries could be faulted for the poor display. This one is squarely on you Parcells, and with no indications of philosophical changes on the horizon, it's time for his tenure to come to a close. Make sure that subscription to the Daily Racing Form is current and get out of town as soon as this season concludes. It's simply not working.
The same holds true for the Parcells "must have" 3-4 defense. Jerry has poured enormous amounts of funding into this porous scheme the last three years, and his return on investment is abysmal. It makes the Dot Com meltdown, Michael Milliken junk bonds and the Savings and Loan collapse look like sheer brilliance. Draft pick after Draft pick has gone into building and fortifying this defensive scheme. This one is as simple as the scheme isn't working or nearly as effective as it was for Parcells in New York or the personnel is inferior or mismatched to carry out this style of play. Every player will struggle at some point in their career, and sophomore slumps do happen. Regardless of which is currently applicable, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears have been AWOL this entire year. AWOL, MIA or both. They have generated nothing near expectations. When a defense struggles to stop the run and the pass rush and pocket pressure is non-existent, problems will persist and amplify. If a team wants to truly compete in the post season, you can't have a defense wearing down in December. It's a recipe for disaster, and the Cowboys currently possess all the necessary ingredients for a cuisine nightmare. Everything is moving in the wrong direction.
Despite a playoff appearance in 2003 and 2006, this team has never had a meaningful and noteworthy December on the Parcells' watch. It hasn't happened, and Jerry has to make a change regardless of final 2006 outcome. This is not to suggest there is absolutely nothing wrong with the offense. There are several issues on that side of the ball as well, but the glaring deficiencies today and moving forward are Parcells and the defense. Both are severely flawed, and Jerry must exercise and execute a major organizational change.
That's unless he prefers to hinder progress and wallow in mediocrity. At last check, Jerry is still all about the business of winning. You win with character, not characters, and Jerry has two individuals on this team who truly believe they are bigger than the game itself. The Coach and the Coach Killer must go. If Parcells and Owens aren't excused at year's end, get ready for organizational implosion. Parcells deserved the opportunity and time to make something happen. Owens deserves nothing. Neither has contributed to a championship, and a successful businessman has to know when to cut his losses and sever the cord.
Now is that time!
Indictment: Top to Bottom
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