We're Gonna Need A Bigger Thesaurus

The Dallas Cowboys finished third in the division and ...in the conference but they finished first in earning nasty epithets from the local newspapers. It's almost comical, really, watching the two fishwraps stumble over themselves in a competition to see which could spit more bile.

The DMNews' JJT – something less than a craftsman – called them "gutless.'' My man Randy Galloway at the Star-Telegram called them. … oh, he called them "gutless,'' too.

Like Capt. Brody said to Quint, "We're gonna need a bigger thesaurus.''

An assortment of hairy-chested takes from Philly 44, Cowboys 6:

TAKE: Don't look to the April NFL Draft for a consolation prize here. That prize is already at Valley Ranch, in the name of receiver Roy Williams, and maybe some day he'll do something more than the two catches for four yards he totaled in Philly.

Listen, I don't know if Roy – who seems like a good citizen and who I know is a gifted player – ran some uninspired routes or is the victim of cruddy playcalling or just has some sort of Lions-related chronic ailment. But I do remember writing when he was first acquired that I (as a card-carrying follower of the NFC North) have seen Roy slop his way through a lot of games. That's all I'm saying.

TAKE: Notice how I said, "I don't know'' in the previous take? Stick with me here:

TAKE: You, sir – yes, you, the one who calls the talk shows or posts on the internet and says, "I've been a Cowboys fan for 29 years and I know what's wrong,'' or whatever:

No, you don't.

I mean, you have the emotional (and maybe financial) investment for 29 or 39 or 49 years, but that doesn't make you an expert. Primal-scream away, though. It's your right.

Same with most sportswriters. I am endlessly amused at the journalists – the large majority of whom have never boiled a mouthpiece – who are trying to analyze blitz packages or are breaking down the problem to play-calling specifics. Believe me when I say, most of them are fakes.

I try to avoid pretense here. You want me to call for the firing of special-teams coach Bruce Read? Um, OK. Now, I don't really know Bruce Read. But what I do know is that while some of his units struggle mightily, he knows a skillion times what I know about football.

But yeah, sure. Fire Bruce Read. I guess.

TAKE: I am going to ask for some opinion-giving leeway here, and I'll tell you why: Terrell Owens opened up the floor for opinion-giving.

Said T.O.: "If Jerry needs advice or asks me about anything, I will give him my honest opinion.''

Well, Terrell, that's mighty generous of you. The rest of us idiots will now do the same!

TAKE: So, fire Bruce Read. (Or dump Tank Johnson. Something like that.) Now, what does that fix? Well, it creates for Mr. Jones a scapegoat, for one thing. That can be the "Woodshed Victim.'' I've handled here my thoughts on Wade and Jason, but let me touch on it:

Let's say Jerry brings in Mike Holmgren. Not a bad thought. Can Wade stay as the D-coordinator? Certainly not; Holmgren will want his own guy. Can prized O-coordinator Jason Garrett stay? Of course not; Holmgren will run his own offense, thank you.

So a change would mean a CHANGE. And while many have written that Jerry won't make a change because he is "stubborn'' or because he "hates to admit he's wrong,'' the fact is, Jerry is no more "wrong'' about, say, Jason Garrett's future than some sportswriter is correct in pooh-poohing that same future.

Those of you who think you are really a smarter football CEO than Jerry Jones, raise your hand.

Oh, and put your other hand in your wallet and pull out the billion bucks it would take to become a team owner. Because you, smart-and-rich guy, are hired!

TAKE: It's Monday. Has Galloway written his "Jerry-Should-Fire-Himself'' column yet?

Dallas lost seven, seven, three and seven games in the past four years. And I swear ol' Randy has written that "Jerry-Should-Fire-Himself'' column exactly 24 times in the past four years.

Every time they lose. I mean, you talk about "the advantages of continuity''!

TAKE: Pacman isn't worth the trouble. That's not even a debate anymore.

TAKE: If you think Roy Williams is a No. 1 receiver, then Terrell Owens isn't worth the trouble anymore, either. Though that one IS a debate. I'm of the mind now that T.O. is going to be a step slower next year and the way he's going to combat his fading talents is to talk more.

That's good for my man Ed Werder, but not of much use to anybody else.

TAKE: Here's another thing about T.O., and about players/co-workers like him (and I say this as somebody who supported the dice-rolling idea of acquiring him): Eventually, his status as a lightning rod makes people take sides. Even his co-workers. So you've got half the locker room rolling their eyes at him, and half the locker room crowing their support for him.

And both positions – because more than one position exists at all -- make you lose.

TAKE: I would say this is a narcissistic football team. Rich and narcissistic. And I'm not just including Tony Romo in that analysis – I'm highlighting Tony Romo in that analysis.

Romo gave another one of his "there's more to life than football'' speeches after the loss, and yeah, yeah, that's true. But damnit, wouldn't it be nice to see the quarterback of the football team be broken up just a little more by a loss that so many people at home find emotionally devastating?

I mean, yeah, Tony, there's more to YOUR life. But that's not the case for all of us, bro.

TAKE: So Romo collapsed in the shower. Ribs, exhaustion, pain, whatever. And now that he's OK, I'll take my shot:

When Aikman came here, Jerry commented controversially that he "looks good in the shower.''

The Cowboys used to look good in the shower. Now they fall down in the shower.


TAKE: Like I say, I don't know Bruce Read. But I know the makeup of some of the other coaches. You can call them "soft,'' but I call them thoughtful and respectful and calm and reasonable.

Which makes some of them putty in the hands of players who don't want to do things in a team-first manner. Frankly, there are a few too many guys on the staff who think they can be buddies with their players. (One unit, as an example, is the wide-receiving group. Ray Sherman doesn't seem to be their boss or their teacher, but rather, their protective big brother.)

And in the Philly game, this deal where Romo tells Wade, "No, we're going for it on fourth down.'' … that's buddy-buddy stuff.

Wade, if Tony needs a buddy, let him call Nick Lachey or whomever, OK?

Here's the thing: A staff needs a mix: Mike Singletary just got big money to stay in San Francisco, and that's a good move for the 49ers. He's a leader of men. But Mike must now add a few staffers who don't pull their pants down at halftime, a few staffers who don't order players to go take a shower in the middle of a game.

A staff needs a mix.

I believe it is Jerry Jones' plan to add a badass at Valley Ranch. Good. Unfortunately, I believe it it Jerry Jones' plan for the badass personality to be. … Jerry Jones.

Sorry, Mr. Jones. Is it in you?


TAKE: Wade Phillips won 12 of his first 13 games here. But now he's won 10 of the last 20. This is a 9-7/7-9 league, so those numbers are easy for me to comprehend. It happens.

But they are not easy for you to comprehend. Because you cannot fathom how they don't go 13-3 every year, am I right? In fact, when they did go 13-3, I recall you being very bothered by the 3.

TAKE: You know. … this never would've happened had Dallas employed a real backup QB. Put that on the fix-it list for next year, Jerry, and put it up high. If somebody like Jeff Garcia is the backup here, Romo not only has a friendly tutor and a smidge of keep-an-edge competition, he also has somebody who can win games in his stead.

Of course, had it actually been Garcia, we would've had yet another T.O. personality conflict. So scratch that.

I guess bring in a backup QB who meets with Terrell's approval.

TAKE: So if you keep Wade and you keep Jason, what really changes? Doesn't somebody on the staff or somebody in the locker room need to kick somebody's ass? Do you alter the chemistry of this roster?

Besides Jerry, I mean.

Of course, they tried some of that by bringing in ol' Zach Thomas. I don't know if he rubbed off or not, but now he's ready to be an ex-Cowboy.

TAKE: I've rarely seen an offensive line stand straight up while pass-blocking as often as this crew does. I don't mean to go fake-deep on you – I'm just a broken-down old sportswriter – but I know I'm right on this. Bad teaching. Lazy habits.

TAKE: Why did Tony Romo not-too-subtly call out his O-coordinator Jason Garrett? Because Tony Romo wants Garrett to give him his gunslingin' back. (Go read that take from me in its entirety here.)

TAKE: I assume the phone lines for season tickets at the new stadium are pretty much wide-open today, eh? Jerry, I think you can give the new stadium staff the day off today.

TAKE: "We have the best talent in the NFL," cornerback Terence Newman said, "but that doesn't always get the job done."

And you know, that's thrown around Dallas as if it's a given – a God-given, even. But I don't know. McNabb and Westbrook. … what is the Cowboys' "best-talent'' answer to that? Ryan/Turner in Atlanta, Adrian Peterson and that defense in Minnesota, the Giants as the defending champs. … what's all that? Chopped livah?

TAKE: Some solace if you are a Mavs fan: In terms of general perception of sports in Dallas, the NBA Finals collapse is now on the public's backburner.

TAKE: I tell you an angle I get tired of: "Jerry spent a lot of money to win a Super Bowl.''

And what do you think the Giants, Titans, Patriots, Vikings and Colts spend in their pursuit of a title? Confederate money? Magic beans? Junk bonds?

TAKE: One solid knock on Wade: When the D was turning around, he took credit – and even announced that he'd taken the play-calling reins from Brian Stewart. What was an attention-grab at the time should now rightly be a buck-stops-there deal now.

TAKE: If you are keeping score at home, The Ones Who Got Away – Parcells and Sparano – are in the playoffs in Miami. Now, Parcells comes with a warning label; he wasted no time this weekend in leaking to Mort that he's got a contractual escape clause from the Dolphins and is willing to be courted (and paid) again.

He's not a nice person, really. So let's just say Sparano is the One Who Got Away.

Oh, and Norv. He's got San Diego in the playoffs. Somehow.

TAKE: If "Hard Knocks'' is really an issue here, this group of fellas is more weak-minded than anyone believes. It's TV, guys. You're already on TV EVERY WEEK.

TAKE: I'm not big on the hyperbole of it all. "The worst Cowboys team ever!''? "The most gutless team in the NFL!'' "The worst people in the history of people!''? I mean, this league is also occupied by a number of teams that collapsed down the stretch (Denver, Tampa, Chicago) and one team in particular that went 0-16.

But. …

It's the Farewell to Texas Stadium game that will linger in my mind. Fumble, fumble, fumble, fumble and lose bad in Philly? Rough. But fail to show up in your homecoming game, a homecoming game 38 years in the making? There's some "gutless'' in there, I think.

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