Luckily not in the land of the famed Blue Star, there are many big-time mounts caught in the stalls. If you happen to sprint to the front of the pack as the Cowboys, Patriots, Colts and Packers have, you don't look back to see who is still in the saddle and in contention. Wade Phillips needs to stay on the whip and ride this thing for all it's worth. The real race is within the furlongs ahead, and the sprint quickly turns to a strategy session and pure jockeying.
What will things look like at the three-quarter's pole?
It's anyone's guess, but the talk of "they haven't beaten any team of substance" needs to die an immediate and timely death. Fans and critics can play that game all day long, but the fact remains, the Cowboys have done exactly what good teams do. They've taken care of business and put away inferior opponents. Are they supposed to be faulted for that? Who cares what the combined record of the opponents has been?! Are the Patriots not in the same boat? The tale of the tape says Cowboys' opponents (to date) are a combined 3-13, and the Patriots' previous opponents are a stellar 4-12. So, what and where is the difference? One measly win?
The only difference is the Patriots have enjoyed more success in recent times, and the Cowboys are aspiring to a return to prominence. Does this somehow make their 4-0 start supreme to that of the Cowboys? That debate is best left for the discussion boards and talking heads gracing TV and radio. There's a strong likelihood the Cowboys and Patriots will be 5-0 when squaring off in Texas Stadium on October 14th. A potential benchmark game of the highest order.
Until that tilt rolls around, let's take a glance at a few of the percolating issues permeating Valley Ranch.
The NFL injury gods appear to have cloned themselves or hired a few extra bodies this year. There is an abundance of significant injuries four games in, and there is no sign of the trend letting up any time soon. The Cowboys haven't escaped the wrath, and Anthony Henry is the latest victim of the disturbing trend. The cliché of clichés is injuries are part of the game, and as true as the cliché is, the Cowboys' Nation can only hope the severity of the injuries remains manageable. In case no one has noticed, the collective health of Favre, Manning, Brady and Romo is directly attributable to the first ¼ pole success.
Beg to differ?
Remove one of them from behind center for a month and watch what happens. Don't ever diminish the importance and continuity of the offensive line and their ability to keep their field general clean. It's an art in and of itself. If questionable on the issue, give Marc Bulger and Steve McNair a call. In most cases, due to the size and speed of the game, the health of the quarterback almost mirrors that of his offensive line.
Speaking of fate (or fake), is anyone troubled by Greg Ellis' sudden return to the field of play? Money is an amazing tool and motivator, and it continues to be a necessary evil within the sporting world. In a complete, almost under-the-radar, covert mission, Jerry, Ellis and Ellis' agent congregated to gravel, consent and save face. Make no mistake about it, the Cowboys need Greg Ellis, and his impact was immediately felt, but a different side of Greg Ellis has been revealed. When the curtain was pulled back, the portrait of Ellis was not nearly as warm and friendly as once was. Greg leveraged an injury, for financial gain, at the expense of the team. Fortunately, it didn't cost them any games, but something doesn't feel quite right about the methodology utilized on the way back to the playing field.
Welcome back, Greg. Now get back to work. Those with lockers in close proximity to #98, make sure your wallets are securely hidden and out of arms reach. If there is one more WHINE out of Greg Ellis from now until retirement, it belongs nowhere in print and should be banished from all airwaves. Running dirty laundry through the media is spineless and mirrors the American political process.
Cowboys' faithful, if there was any question regarding Jerry's will and desire to win; you now have your answer. Disappointedly, he caved. He cratered to Ellis' demands in order to solidify a championship run. Concessions like this usually come back to haunt, and while the contrary is hoped; Jerry has struck up the conversation and ignited the relationship with Satan. The pending insurance policy was the ultimate in veils. Jerry, you of all people, knows the price for dancing with the Devil.
Speaking of deals, what kind of contract will Julius Jones receive following the 2007 campaign? Watch this one very closely and get used to the idea of Jones being a Cowboy for at least another 4-5 years. Unless there is a desperate, RB-starved team in the mix, and there usually is, the Cowboys may have full control over Jones' future. Based on year-to-date production, the Cowboys are not (and will not be) showcasing Jones' talents as a featured back. Jones' market value will be much higher in his own mind than the free agency market will bear. Hopes of a blockbuster, set-for-life contract are completely unreasonable. Jones will have a big decision to make in the off-season. Will money or potential championships govern his decisions? If the latter, the Cowboys may be set at RB for years to come.
Why spend a first round Draft pick and truckloads of money on a Darren McFadden when the future can be wrapped up for much, much less? Besides, left tackle, cornerback and wide receiver are more worthy thoughts and considerations with the two No. 1 picks in 2008. Heck, Cleveland is doing their part and seeing fit to render the Darren McFadden discussion non-existent.
Before getting to the #1 hatred of Cowboys' fans worldwide, can a nauseating reference finally be put to bed?! If the overly-obvious fact that Tony Romo seems to be over or not impacted by last year's bobbled field goal snap is mentioned again, look for ledge climbers and bridge jumpers to come out in full force. Let the dead horse beating cease and desist. What is everyone expecting….a mid-year flashback? Ain't going to happen. Folks, it's Tony Romo, and nothing seems to bother this kid. It's highly doubtful, if not impossible; the Cowboys' QB dwells in revisionist history. For crying out loud, move on!
Finally, the most hated Cowboys' fan trait. The inability to be satisfied in and with the present. Ever heard of the ol' adage about stopping to smell the flowers? Why can't Cowboys' faithful adhere? Life is way too short to blaze through it without enjoying today's atmosphere and surroundings. Cowboys' faithful are already contemplating the future without Jason Garrett. What in the world will the Cowboys do? Good Lord, people, give it a freaking rest. Why is this today's issue? Why now? What will deciding Garrett's future solve for the 2007 season? Sit back and enjoy the ride. Be thankful for what you currently have. Relish the moment. Consider Garrett's future employ an issue for another day.
Never happy. Never satisfied. Word of advice. If your appetite and desires remain insatiable, you'll have tossed away a lifetime of simple and current joys. It's your choice…fret or feast?
You're 4-0. Stop and smell the roses. The alternative is St. Louis-like stink. Which Tony A-Roma do you prefer?
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