GIVE THE MAN HIS DUE

There were many reasons folks expected the Dallas Cowboys to beat the Dolphins on Thanksgiving Day. One of them, of course, was the fact Miami had to play on Sunday night. Another was that Bill Parcells obviously would outcoach Dave Wannstedt. So what does the 40-21 Miami victory say about Wannstedt?

Wannstedt has gotten more flak in Miami in recent years, with the criticism ranging from his personnel decisions to his conservative approach to the play-calling to his demeanor on the sidelines.

But say this for the man: He did a tremendous job preparing the Dolphins for the game at Dallas.

Really, now, which looked like the team that was outcoached.

The offensive game plan, designed to take advantage of Dallas' aggressive defense and target cornerback Mario Edwards, was brilliant.

The Dolphins abused Edwards throughout the day and Chris Chambers got himself three touchdowns as a result.

Then there was the practice approach heading into the game. Wannstedt took it easy on his players in hopes they would remain fresh through four quarters.

It worked.

Really, did the Dolphins look like a tired team at any point during that game?

Finally, there was his message to the players to just play relaxed out there and just look at the game like a walk-through.

That worked, as well.

Truth is, this might have been Wannstedt's best coaching job during his tenure with the Dolphins.

And those who have bitched and moaned about Wannstedt throughout the season ought to at least have the common courtesy of acknowledging the job he did for this game.

No, we're not saying Wannstedt is a better coach than Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick.

We're not even saying Wannstedt is a good coach, period. That's another topic for another day.

The point that needs to be made is that Wannstedt is nowhere near as incompetent as some Dolphins fans would have you believe.

Just think about this stat: Since 1993, five teams have had to play a road game or a night game before traveling on Thanksgiving and only two have won.

Those two teams were coached by Wannstedt.

The Dolphins' next game is at New England on Dec. 7, and this is another game where some will give the opponent the advantage because of the coaching matchup.

If nothing else, the victory at Dallas showed that Wannstedt deserves a little more credit than he's gotten and maybe Bill Belichick alone won't be enough for New England to win this game.


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