Reality Television

In the Nineties television boasted doctor shows, lawyer shows, and cops and robbers on every channel. Prime time was filled with drama, broken up by a little humor about four self-absorbed people with no visible means of support. Then came the 22nd century.

Reality TV has hit the screen like naked navels with belly-button rings in fashion. From Survivor to Weakest Link, to The Osbournes, producers are looking for conflict that isn't scripted and in-your-face confrontation. Evidently they haven't turned an eye to the Dallas Cowboys as yet.

What is vastly apparent about this version of America's Team is the chaotic nature of the franchise. What was once 22 men playing in perfect synchronization has digressed into the semblance of an Army company after someone yells dismissed. People run in every direction without purpose or meaning.

So much newsprint has been wasted over the imaginary reasons why the team is failing, so many a few blips on a computer monitor won't overwhelm the issue. But at this point someone has to speak out to why this team is in more disarray than the hair of a skid-row wino.

The battle on the gridiron is won in the trenches. Amos Alonzo Stagg uttered this bromide over three millennia ago to a fresh-faced bunch of players in some almost forgotten speech.

Or maybe it was Knute Rockne or Pop Warner that inspired with this tidbit of news that explained how one team can overcome another without the single wing or the flying V.

The line is where the meat is on the team, and not just in the ham hocks of the players. Any team that succeeds wins the individual battles between the offensive and defensive lines.

Thus our heroes that don the star on Sundays and play for ole Big D need only look at the offensive line to answer the oft-asked question about the lack of offensive production.

In week 9 of the Cowboys season they have played 8 different offensive lines. At no time has the team fielded the same crew for 5 quarters in a row. It's gotten so bad that players are shuffled through the door to run three plays and are immediately deposited on the IR to draw pay and rehab before the next series begins.

If Dallas has an Achilles heel, and there have been a few of those around these parts, the offensive line is more responsible for the woes of this team than any other squad.

During the Detroit embarrassment Chad Hutchinson, the newest sacrificial goat to the Gods of Defense set up to throw deep 5 times during the game. One pass play ended with Chad throwing short after reading his progression. Another was an unforgettable play where the ball fell to the earth I know not where. But on the three remaining plays the blonde bomber from Stanford was knocked to the new almost grass before he could take his fifth pace from center.

What this means is the line couldn't protect long enough for deep balls to be thrown. Hence the lack of deep passes called to keep Chadwick upright for another series, lest we see the young and the inaccurate take the field in the uniform of number 17.

The crickets who only wish the best for the team, chirp from the wings, "it's the coaching." "It's the general manager," they fume. It's anyone but that lamest of excuses: an ailing offensive line.

Surely the system doesn't suit a bunch of men that would be candidates for a Jenny Craig advertisement. Except they might eat the camera and the photographer in the modeling session. Girth is defined in the dictionary as measure around something. In the case of the Dallas offensive line, you better have all day and bring a sack lunch. With Gurode as the most lithe, weighing in at a svelt 320 pounds, one has to question if this is the exact model of linemen Bruce Coslet had in mind when he brought in the new West Coast blocking schemes.

Coslet is another four-letter word that is spewed from the bleachers by the semi-literate and unconscious rabble. It surely has to be Bruce's fault that the team is less potent at scoring this season. Because he wasn't here last year and we scored more then. Logic such as this caused Rickey Riccardo to curse in Spanish on prime time TV weekly from the mid 50's and into the early 60's. MIT isn't searching the angry Dallas fan base for the next Stephen Hawkins with such lack of reasoning proffered around these parts.

If the line can't buy time to keep the quarterback from sunning himself on the floor of Texas Stadium on any given pass play, then how can they fool anyone when the ball carrier is given leather and asked to avoid the traffic jam just north of his starting position? And yet there are those that believe, rightly or wrongly, the offensive line plague is a flimsy excuse for poor production by the GM.

At last blush, Jerry Jones doesn't run around the practice field kicking his highly paid human fence in the knees and ankles sending them to the sick ward.

Dallas is in the first true year of a rebuild. A fact that is as unpleasant as a root canal or traffic ticket to most of the impatient voyeurs of the Cowboys. The first year after the Aikman hit on the cap produced a wealth of talent in both the free agent market and the draft. Funny how the little things like having the freed up money to pay players can seduce them to come play for your team. And Jerry was resoundingly cheered in late April when his draft drew rave reviews from everyone around the professional football periphery.

Until the team has an off-season where heavy bodies can regain health, and a system can be implemented where all five players actually have a chance to practice together, the team will suffer from the lack of production.

There are other woes that have befallen this team. Lack of a real cover corner. A half season without the starting middle linebacker, which causes a domino effect throughout the entire linebacker corps. No production from the tight end. A quarterback carousel that has featured more inexperience than a 3rd grade class mistakenly attending a sex education class.

But it all starts at the offensive line. A fact, that while a bitter pill to take, is as much the truth as Bill Gates bank account or Jennifer Lopez's personal goal of eclipsing Liz Taylor's 8 marriages before she's 40.

Being voted off the island is more embarrassing than hurtful because a nation watches you in your most vulnerable moment. Being kicked off Weakest Link in some cases means you are the smartest person on the show and the most dangerous.

But the reality of being on the offense for the Dallas Cowboys means you have an open account at My for those everyday moments when your co-workers end up limping to an early vacation.

Reality ain't pretty. It's nothing but the facts ma'am.

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