If you are surprised by the revelation that Bill Parcells was applying for the Giants' GM job last December right about the same time his Cowboys were floundering, you were not paying attention to InfalliBill's opportunistic lameness. (Ironically, Jimmy Johnson pulled a similarly dastardly trick 12 years before; big difference was, Jimmy's went ahead and won the Super Bowl while he was lifting his skirt to suitors.)
All bad things, happily, must come to an end. So Parcells' awkward attempt to cheat on the Cowboys was thwarted by the Giants' lack of desire. (I half-wish that his New York connection, after offering a "thanks, but no thanks,'' also ended up saying, "Leave the gun, take the canoles''?)
And Bill now mutters to disheveled railbirds at Saratoga Springs, to Chris Berman, to his pet cat, to anybody who will listen, how great he used to be.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys march on, under the guidance of Wade Phillips – a man who looks like he might cut a deal in front of an ice-cream parlor, or maybe on the bed of a pickup truck, but never in the darkness of a New Jersey limosine – and they do so with enough sudden stability that the coaching chance is somehow not much of a storyline.
There are, however, five other storylines as the Cowboys transition from training camp to the week's season opener at Texas Stadium against Bill Parcells' (not) Giants:
5) ROMO AS A STRENGTH: As we've pointed out before, ESPN is quoting some anomymous scout who says Tony Romo is the team's "weakness.'' That scout obviously doesn't work at Valley Ranch, where Romo has quickly evolved into a team leader, a rallying point, and oh-by-the-way, a Pro Bowl quarterback.
I give you the words of Drew Bledsoe, who a couple of years ago smiled and said he didn't want to get injured because "that Romo kid would go in and we'd never get him out of there.''
I'm siding with Bledsoe here. And siding against some mysterious, unseen, "anonymous scout.''
4) THE O-LINE: I'm still waiting. For all five guys being healthy, and together, for any length of time. This group is massive, and running the Jason Garrett offense like the one employed here in the mid-90's, power running should be a plus.
But will it take another month for everything to come together for Flozell Adams and Leonard Davis and the big fellas?
3) THE COACHING CHANGES: No, not Wade-for-Bill. This is Jason's first rodeo. And D-coordinator Brian Stewart's, too. Coaches talk about how players will react when "the bullets are flying.'' Here's a case where we want to see how the baby-faced coaches react when "the bullets are flying.''
Oh, and the Wade Wilson substance suspension? No matter how innocent, it's not innocuous. The Cowboys would have preferred to have all hands on deck. Though, it is worth noting, any Dallas observer who thought Wade Wilson would be the first Cowboy suspended – way ahead of, say, Terrell Owens – just won himself the office pool.
2) THE PHILLIPS 3-4: It would've been nice had all the most vocal anti-Parcellsians – Canty and Spears and Roy Williams – shown domination during the preseason. Instead, they'll have to do it in the regular season. And I still think they will, though they'll all take a backseat to Demarcus Ware.
Ware says he wants to go for the NFL all-time sack record. But he kind of stuttered and stammered when he said it, as if to suggest that he'd rather simply walk the walk.
Canty and Spears and Williams? And Newman and James and Ferguson? I believe they will all be key cogs in the best Dallas defense we've seen in a decade.
But Demarcus Ware is different. Special. He will, I predict, will do what all truly great ones do: Excel no matter who the coach is.
1) INJURIES: Entering camp, were you concerned about the kicking battle, the outside linebacker battle, the third receiver battle, and the third cornerback battle? Settled, settled, settled and settled – but not by "battles.''
You get, respectively, rookie Nick Folk for the released Martin Gramatica, rookie Anthony Spencer for the disabled Greg Ellis, Patrick Crayton jumping up for the iffy Terry Glenn, and, well, nobody for Terence Newman.
Beyond that, you want guarantees for Giants-at-Cowboys? I've only got one: Bill Parcells won't be in the house to run EITHER team.
Cowboys 'Take The Canoles'
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