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Monday, October 23, 2006

Dallas Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells - Has He Lost His Winning Style?

ESPN's in love with Dallas Cowboys' Head Coach Bill Parcells. Watching ESPN's Monday Night Football and listening to Tony Kornheiser in particular, you'd think Parcells was the Pope. Everything he says is wrtten on stone tablets for posterity. Every coach that wins coached with him. Every team he's coached he's won a Super Bowl with.

Ah. Hold on with that last sentence.

The last time Coach Parcells won a Super Bowl was in 1990. That was 16 years ago. And with the Dallas Cowboys now 3 and 3, and arguably not going to sniff the NFC East Division Championship this year, and having not reached the playoffs since Parcells first year in 2003, it's time to ask this question:

Are Coach Parcells best days behind him?

I ask this question after seeing Parcells' staff clearly outcoached by Tom Coughlin and the NY Giants and lose 36 - 22. On defense, the Giants just split Defensive End Michael Strahan out over the tight end. Instead of having the offensive tackle just wait for Strahan in the pocket, he goes off and helps on the defensive tackle. So the tight end releases for a pass, and Strahan is unblocked. The result? A sack.

The Giants tried a variation of this later. Only this time they blized Lavar Arrington in the tackle - guard gap, and the tackle went after the defensive end, but the guard didn't even touch Arrington. The result? Another sack. (What should have happened was to either call a play to leave a back in or go with five wide receivers and force coverage.)

What did Dallas do? Stay with the regular game plan in the first half. They can't seem to adjust to what the oppenent is doing fast enough.
Then I saw Parcells just throw his season away by bringing in preseason favorite forth-year QB Tony Romo to replace hapless Drew Bledsoe. The result? An interception -- three of them actually. It was a move borne of frustration and thus not a good one. And even then, in the second half, the Cowboys still didn't effectively deal with the problem of Strahan over the tight end, because they called plays rolling out Tony Roma in that direction -- that's how his first pass came to be tippeed and intercepted.

In my view, the Cowboys problem is squarely with the design of its passing game, not who's at QB. The Cowboys don't have a good timing offense as would be designed by Bill Walsh. It's sloppy. It's not crisp. It's terrible. They can't get the ball to Terell Owens, and let's face it, he's a playmaker. Give him his reps and he's happy. I could care less what funny quips he has with Owens, but that goes to show you how immature ESPN's coverage can be. Parcells is a coach, not a comedian.

All of this falls on Bill Parcells. I think the coach is a great leader and has a storied past. But it's not working with the needs of the Dallas Cowboys today. The Dallas Cowboys need to know how to adjust to what their opponents are doing, and fast -- don't wait until halftime. I like Coach Parcells, but they don't give Super Bowl trophies for great press conferences.


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