My old friend Troy Aikman was wrong, too.
Now, I've won a few fewer Super Bowls than Troy, so feel free to dismiss my thoughts on the genesis of Dallas' problems here. But here's Troy's analysis of the situation on Fox:
"It has nothing to do with the quarterback,'' Aikman said, "when the offensive line can't allow you to run the football.''
Really? By the time the Giants knew Johnson/Bollinger couldn't complete passes of more than a dozen yards – and of course, in the case of Johnson, the Giants knew that in 1997 – NY was able to crowd the line with run-stopping defenders. That made Dallas' O-line look silly.
Then, when NY was in control of the scoreboard, and Dallas had to throw, the Giants could continue to put eight men in the box – and pass-rush out of it. That made Dallas' O-line look silly, too.
I'm not absolving the non-quarterbacks involved here.
When rookie cornerback Michael Jenkins starts approaching oncoming ballcarriers as if they were typhoid carriers – and then the same disease of disinterest is passed onto the usually spectacular DeMarcus Ware – you know the problems are epidemic.
And let's nothing away from the Giants. They are the defending Super Bowl champs, and against all odds, they continue to play like it as they threaten to run away with the division. (And maybe even the conference.)
So no, I'm not absolving the Cowboys blockers from blame here. Again, those five fellas are among the 60 or so culprits for a loss that drops the reeling Cowboys to 5-4.
But this is a quarterback game. A great quarterback CAN be a singular difference between a contender and a non-contender. Hell, a decent quarterback might be able to do it.
But Checkdown Brad and Brooks Backuppinger? I'm only half-kidding – and maybe thinking of this like high-school football inasmuch as the local pros made me reflect that way – when I say that Patrick Crayton might want to start loosening up the arm. Or Jason Garrett should. Or Wade Wilson should.
Quincy Carter, are you busy?
"If you can come back there and play quarterback,'' Terrell Owens said late Sunday, "hey, we'll play with you.''
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones insisted after the game that the role of Tony Romo's caddie is "something that we absolutely worked on in the offseason. The backup quarterback has always been a high priority for this team.''
Well, they worked on it. And they made it a priority.
They just made the wrong decision, is all.
Is the return of Romo a singular cure-all? Of course not. Nor is the return of Felix Jones and Kyle Kozier and Terence Newman and Anthony Henry a group cure-all. But if you think such things won't "matter'' … well, you must play for the Giants.
"I think if Romo was there we would've played the same way,'' the Giants Antonio Pierce said. "Everybody puts the blame on Brad Johnson, but this team lost a game before Brad Johnson. It could've been Romo, Brad Johnson, Bollinger, Troy Aikman. It didn't really matter. …''
Sorry, but that is ridiculous. The Cowboys figure to be a better team with their electric All-Pro-caliber quarterback than they are with a quarterback in Brad Johnson who has spent the last month killing his career or a quarterback in Bollinger who was deemed a fourth-stringer on a Minnesota team that thought Tavaris Jackson was a savior.
Quarterbacks matter. A lot.
It wasn't Dallas' offensive line that made the Cowboys look bad. With all respect to Troy, it was the other way around.
Who Is Making Whom Look Bad?
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