Cowboys On The Couch

IRVING, Tex. -- From "I Love Lucy'' to "Seinfeld,'' you gotta have a couch. So there they sat, in a TV studio faked up to look like a living room, just three fellas on the couch talkin' Cowboys. Mel Kiper, Chris Mortensen and Darren Woodson, supplemented by a couple of anchormen and a parade of graphics, put the Cowboys "on the clock.''

Basically it's an ESPN feature that is "Coffee Talk'' ... without the comedy.

Here's our analysis of their analysis, presented in chronological order from the telecast:

ANCHORMAN: Claims that the Giants and Jets oppose the Cowboys in nationally televised games because "Jerry Jones likes the attention.''

TRR REACTION: Jones is a powerful man, but not even he has that sort of stroke. Truth is, it's the NFL and the networks who like the attention of marrying the high-profile Cowboys with two huge-market draws. A delighted Jones simply goes along for the money-making ride.

KIPER: The draftnik makes an issue of the fact that since 1998, the Cowboys have had seven first-round picks -- all of them on defense.

TRR REACTION: A completely meaningless observation. Dallas took Ebenezer Ekuban in 1999 and should therefore let that defensive selection influence the club away from taking another defender? Nonsense.

MORTENSEN: Quote: "Teams get better on defense when Wade Phillips shows up.''

TRR REACTION: This is a fact that has been documented in this space before. What we found notable is that Mort would make that comment while his buddy Bill Parcells is down the hall somewhere on the ESPN campus, getting ready for his closeup. Mortensen admitting that the Cowboys defense will be "better'' after the departure of Parcells? Unusually frank. Hopefully true.

MORTENSEN: He suggests that DeMarcus Ware might be counted on to be like former Phillips pupil Shawne Merriman and will record "17-to-20 sacks.''

TRR REACTION: Yikes. Really? That's a lofty goal, trying to reach and exceed Merriman's All-Pro-level total of 17 sacks last year (accomplished in 12 games). We're not voting against it, but as a matter of perspective we offer this: Deacon Jones, arguably the greatest pass-rushing defensive end of all time, recorded 20 sacks in a season just three times. So we're just suggesting a little caution here before the bar is raised too high.

KIPER: Regarding Dallas' first-round pick at No. 22, he called the idea of taking a safety "intriguing.'' And then he tossed out a handful of names, including Reggie Nelson and Brandon Meriweather.

TRR REACTION: This drives us crazy. Every subscriber to's mom can suggest that a certain position is "intriguing,'' and then throw out the top three guys at that position on everybody's list. A waste of time. (With all due respect to your mom.)

MORTENSEN: Mort rattles off three headline-issues -- surgery on his finger, lack of understanding of the playbook and dropped passes -- and declares Terrell Owens to be Dallas' biggest question mark.

TRR REACTION: Not even close. T.O. is a lot of things, but we all know exactly what we're dealing with here. The surgery on his finger will be forgotten by July. The lack of understanding of the playbook needs to be addressed by Garrett and Co. today. And the dropped passes, unfortunately, are part of Terrell being Terrell.

Darren Woodson, care to clear this up?

WOODSON: Woody argues that Marco Rivera's back problem is actually Dallas' biggest question mark. ... and then a breath later pronounces the offensive line to be "the strength of the team.''

TRR REACTION: Technically, there are unanswered questions everywhere, from the freshly-minted coaching staff on down. But Woody gets closer to the truth here. A healthy Rivera provides the Cowboys with some stability, an unavailable Rivera creates a chasm. Now, how Darren crunches all those facts and comes up with the O-line as "the strength'' is befuddling -- except that he likes the Leonard Davis signing and he is optimistic about Rivera's return.

KIPER: Regarding Dallas' first-round pick at No. 22, he called the idea of taking a wide receiver "interesting.'' And then he tossed out a handful of names, finally focusing on Robert Meachem as the Cowboys' projected pick.

TRR REACTION: Did we mention this drives us crazy? Taking a safety is "intriguing,'' taking a wide receiver is "interesting.'' ... Well, at least Mel nailed down a name. Now, to be honest, at this early stage we know more about Robert Mitchum than we know about Robert Meachem. (The first guy starred in "Cape Fear,'' smoked pot, bedded a lot of Hollywood starlets and is dead. The second guy runs fast.) But we'll take Mel's word for it.

MORTENSEN: To summarize, Mort said the Cowboys "have a pretty good nucleus,'' noted that "it's gonna be interesting'' and pronounced Dallas is "off the clock.''

TRR REACTION: We think not only is it gonna be interesting'' -- we think it might even be "intriguing.''

ANCHORMAN: After Mort's wrap-up, an anchorman re-wrap-ups. He adds that somewhere in the ESPN family you can find a story offering insight into whether Tony Romo will be able to recover from what happened in Seattle and that "Brad Johnson was brought in just in case Romo can't!''

TRR REACTION: They should've wrapped-up while they were ahead.

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