Forgive the blatant clichéd to death Charles Dickens rip off, but honestly I don't think there is a play on words that I've heard that better describes the Cowboys of the last 3 years. I touched on this briefly in my last contribution; thus far in 3 games, we have seen every aspect of the Cowboys wow us, be it the running game, the passing game, special teams, rush defense, pass defense, etc. But, we have not seen it all happen at the same time! The one scenario that I did not cover, though, was when the Cowboys do all show up at the same time, only not for the entire game. To be more specific, the Cowboys in the 1st half compared to the 2nd half were two different teams against the Panthers Monday night. It happened last year against the Bengal’s, only the Cowboys fired on all cylinders in the first half, but seem to become content with their lead in the 2nd. The point is, yes, I'm happy the Cowboys were able to pull their collective heads out of their butt and win (I even told those who would listen in my close proximity at the bar I was at that the Cowboys were going to come back), but as a fan who would like to see this team go to the Super Bowl, I was not impressed.
Granted, the Eagles were playing the Chiefs, but they won that game the way a good team wins – convincingly (and that with their back-up QB and rookie RB). The Giants against the Bucs: Is there any question who got dominated in that game?
And yet, the Cowboys in every game have made the game look closer than what it should be. I walked away from week 1 thinking watch out for those Bucs. Three games down and I'm not so sure. I walked away from week 2 thinking, well, at least, the Giants didn't blow us out; there something there to build on and improve upon. And then coming into week 3 I heard a familiar statement that I hadn't heard since 2008: “The Cowboy's have a nasty habit of playing to the talent level of their opponent,” and it really hit me hard, because this was shortly after my last contribution. It all makes sense now. The question left is, who is at fault?
Honestly, I'm leaning towards Wade Phillips. There is another cliché that often is used in regards to the Cowboys: A team takes on the personality of their coach! Now let's imagine Wade gets in a fight and let's say he is actually winning. Which of the following sounds more like Wade's approach in finishing off his opponent: He keep's swinging until someone pulls him off or he knocks the guy down, but then being the nice guy that he is, reaches down to help him up, dusting off his pants and hoping that his adversary has had enough?
Now let's look at a few teams that have had success over the last few years and apply that same question to their coach:
Steelers – Mike Tomlin – He keeps swinging
Patriots – Bill Belichick – He keeps swinging
Eagles – Andy Reid – He keeps swinging
Giants – Tom Coughlin – He may have to stop to take his heart medication, but by God, he'll keep swinging.
This is not a criticism of the players coach. The players coach can have success; there have been plenty in the history of football. In fact, watching the chemistry that Mike Tomlin has with his players, I'd describe him as a players coach. This is about identity and it is a universal concept that extends beyond the borders of football.
As an adolescent growing up, if you wanted a reputation that you were not to be messed with, it wasn't enough to throw the punch that ended the fight; there will always be another who will take a chance at the title. You had to end it and make who ever tested you regret it and it had be done in such a manner that sent a message to any other potential contenders, hospital stay being the ultimate statement.
In life, it is no longer good enough to do your job. There are too many people out there without a job who are over qualified to do your job and yet are willing to do it for the lack of anything better. No, you have to keep swinging until you make your self irreplaceable.
In your marriage, it is not nearly good enough to say you love your spouse; you have to show through action that you love them. The same principle applies to your children and family.
I hate this, because I want to like Wade and, furthermore, I want to believe that 2009 could still be the Cowboys year to go to the Super Bowl. But unless this team finds someone different within the organization to emulate, I have my doubts.