High Cheese and Nuggets

Let's begin with a simple math lesson. When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, 2 + 2 = potential chaos! What, you're not familiar with this equation or summation? To be fair, most probably aren't, but someone within the Cowboys organization better figure it out.

After two episodes of HBO's Hard Knocks and two preseason games, only one question remains as the regular season rapidly approaches.

Who will fulfill the role of "Sheriff" on this team?

Let's be clear. The Sheriff could be, but is not necessarily a player or coach-appointed captain. The team would be better-served if the Sheriff was not a captain. You don't necessarily want the two roles merged and cloudy. The Sheriff is really a "stand alone" role, and someone who is "just a guy" in no way, shape or form need apply. If looking for an adequate job description, it'll be difficult to compile. The role is so unique, but not nearly as important as it is vital; especially with this personnel grouping.

Before the roster-sifting begins, let's set the backdrop and justify the need for a Sheriff. Let's start with a question which has resonated throughout Valley Ranch since 1989. Is Jerry Jones a football man? How many times have you heard it asked and debated? Endlessly. It's not an easy question to answer. Just when a gaffe surfaces and makes the rounds, here comes a stroke of genius right behind it. Thus, a wash. The cycle has been going on for almost 20 years, and there's still no clear-cut answer. Jerry's dual role as Owner and General Manager makes this issue as clear as mud.

When discussing Jerry, you cannot just stop at Owner and General Manager either, which makes the waters even murkier. He is all about marketing the famed "Blue Star," and this is where the potential trouble starts. "Hard Knocks" participation was the wrong decision…..again. It was protested during the Campo tenure, and the adverse position is ever stronger this go round.

Why?

The stakes are much higher this year than when Super Dave was splashing with the dolphins and the team was mud-wrestling pigs. Two back-to-back 5-11 campaigns almost self-promoted this cable network circus. The team and the show were laughable, and it was most difficult to determine which was funnier. Had Larry Allen burst through the door of Chad Hutchinson's room when Chutch and Richmond Flowers were crooning ballads, seized the six-string, and John Belushi'd it on the Hilton wall, then the humor Richter would have favored the HBO production. Either way, both were dismissed as mere jokes.

The 2008 version of the Dallas Cowboys is not a joke. Yet. The slope is most slippery, and water continues to flow and moisten the steep grade aimed at the pirate ship in Tampa. If the Cowboys aren't careful, and self-managed, they may be swabbing the deck of that boat instead of sailing in it. An overreaction? Possibly, but if nothing more, let it reign as a shot or two over the "beware" bow! Had Wade Phillips protested the million-camera arsenal running around Oxnard, would the show have been dismissed or carried on? What if Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells or Coach Landry were at the helm? Would the Wednesday night punt-catching contest be an Orville Redenbacher must-see?

While the world, to include the Head Coach, is completely fascinated by Patrick Crayton's ability to tie Adam's pigskin-gathering, center-ring, punt-fielding act, there are still lingering visions of Patrick's ill-fated juggling act back in mid-January. The Cowboys have self-adopted the "finish" mantra. OK, but before you finish, don't you have to "focus?" The expectations have been set, the bar is beyond the stratosphere, and tons of eggs just sit awaiting their "facial" duty. The fact remains, the Cowboys flat-out blew it in 2007. They absolutely soiled themselves when it counted the most. The smell still resonates amongst the faithful, and it's still most unpleasant!

So, in response to the Doo-Doo Voodoo act in January, the football man decides to open himself, and his organization, to further scrutiny by staking the tents and washing the elephants just North of Los Angeles. Thank goodness this team has returned home so that the potential of reality comes back into play. This La La Land stuff has to go. Don't confuse the issue. The preseason record is equally worthless as it is useless. Doesn't matter. However, what is being done to counter the Giants is of the utmost importance. Back to familiar beds and surroundings. Good start. The cameras, due to contract, will remain for a few more weeks, but the mugging and posing for the lenses must stop! It's high-time to grab the hard hat and lunch pail and get the hell to work!

Do you think this is all nonsense and sensationalism at its finest? Think again. Bradie James was on the verge, but found himself backtracking up the muddy hill. It wasn't the time or place to berate the masses. Too many cameras and boom mikes in the vicinity. He was forced to tip-toe much like Julius Jones running the counter. Reel it back in. Put the gun back in the holster. There will come another day. Is James the right policing agent and organizational barometer? Possibly, but let's not confuse him with Michael Irvin. The Cowboys need one, maybe two, tail-kickers who aren't afraid to flex their muscle and team status. They need to be looked upon favorably, but their body of field work must be stellar in order to command the proper respect needed to lead.

James would probably make it to the final cut, but the badge(s) belong on different jerseys. For the sake of checks and balances, this high-wire act needs dual peace keepers. Remembering the big top includes the Owner, General Manager, and #1 Carnival Barker, the law has to be big and bad enough to confront if necessary. One is basically an adopted Son, and the other has shown signs of having a couple of brass ones. The latter didn't flinch in the game of contract stare down, a contest in which Jerry and Son Stephen absolutely excel. There appeared to be no hesitation to his negotiating abilities, and if you're going to go toe-to-toe with the Jones boys, then a big stick you must carry.

Jason Witten and Ken Hamlin are perfectly positioned to run roughshod over this talent-ladened bunch. With a return to Valley Ranch, they need to start exerting their control and set the tone for the kick-off to the 2008 campaign. What has happened to-date must be forgotten, and all eyes need to be on the prize. This star-studded ship cannot operate rudderless. Steering through the division will be challenging enough, but September and December are bookend benchmarks. This team must absolutely start strong and finish stronger. There is no such thing as "cruise control" in the NFL, but if led properly, this team should be positioned to re-energize in October and November. Again, it's going to take a heavy hand and true grit to see past the glamour and glitz.

Coincidence, yes, but the fact these two hale from the toughest collegiate football conference is an added bonus, but that's a story for another day. Each has logged enough NFL time to command the needed respect of both rookie and vet. While the cameras continue to capture the antics of training camp and the grab-butt festivities that grace every team's barracks, the eye is trained to watch the silent ones go about their business, day in and day out. Any time #82 and #26 flash into view; they're usually sharpening the saw and perfecting their craft. These two have the ability to raise this team to the desired level, but the question remains……..

Will they?

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