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10/12/2005

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Parcells' Mixture
By Howard Cox

The Dallas Cowboys have a great mix of old and new talent on the roster this season. They were hyped up by local media and around the country as a possible playoff contender. Early on they seemed to have made that observation seem like a solid pick when they outlasted San Diego to win their season opener on the road. Then the old doubt crept in when Washington proved to win a game you have to play 60 minutes. That has been the early 2005 version of the Dallas Cowboys leaving many fans and reporters alike scratching their heads and asking, “What kind of team are the Cowboys?”. All of that might have ended with their recent domination of the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s take a look at the mixture Coach Parcells has assembled for this season to maybe answer some questions.

First he talked Jerry Jones into hitting the free agent market hard and often. This brought in oldies Drew Bledsoe, Jason Ferguson and Marco Rivera. All having at least 9 years experience in the NFL. They also brought in Anthony Henry, with only 5 years experience, being the “baby” of the bunch. Aaron Glenn followed (9 years experience) adding years to the already aging group. Building a team is supposed to bring in young talent for the future but none in this group, with the exception of Henry, could fit that description. Many so called experts started writing off the team when Bledsoe was named the starting Quarter Back immediately after being signed. All he has done is rack up 1351 yards (4th in the NFL) and a 61% completion rating. He has also recorded 102.0 QB Rating (3rd in the NFL and 1st in the NFC). Showing something else noone expected, he has been able to scramble when he had to, giving more time for routes to open up and even scoring a TD. Guess the experts are not as correct as they thought. Ferguson has given the defense a boost on the line, although he is backing up Glover due to a preseason injury. Having solid depth at the NT position just keeps everyone fresh and improves the overall defense. Rivera was also injured during preseason but has come back to provide solid blocking and also help for a rookie starter at RT. Other than the last 4 minutes of the Washington game Glenn has provided much needed coverage in the secondary. Coupled with the addition of Henry they allow Roy Williams to move closer to the line of scrimmage and wreak havoc on opposing running backs. All very good additions to the team.

Then the team took on the future situation by racking up a solid draft and also some very good undrafted free agents. DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, both taken in the 1st round are shoring up a front seven that didn’t get much pressure on the QB for some time. Ware already has 3 sacks and leads the team in the category. Spears is still making up for lost time due to injury in preseason yet coming on strong with each week. Also on the DL 4th round pick Chris Canty and undrafted FA Jay Ratliff are making noise as their playing time increases because the coaching staff trusts them more and more to not make “rookie” mistakes. With Julius Jones at RB you would figure the team wouldn’t look in that direction but Parcells pulled a local homegrown talent from out of his magic hat in Tyson Thompson. He has missed assignments on blocking but continues to show ability running the ball that allows him to be the primary backup to Jones. With Jones being injured against Philadelphia all Thompson did was play the entire 2nd half and run for 75 yards on 20 carries. He is also in the tops of the league averaging over 20 yards per kick return, one going for 40 yards to set up the first scoring drive against the Eagles.

Mix all that together with talent that was already on the roster and Parcells’ soup is getting better with age. Larry Allen and Flozell Adams make up a solid left side of the OL, second year starter Al Johnson at C and rookie starter Pettiti make up what has become a pretty solid front five for the Dallas offense. The WR were supposedly too old as well. Terry Glenn is presently ranked 4th overall with 518 yards and averaging a league second best 22.5 yds/rec. Both him and Keyshawn Johnson have 3 TD receptions and give one of the best down field – possession receiving tandems in the league. Patrick Crayton, another 2nd year player, has shown sparks and is the team’s #3 receiver. The only major portion of the team not untracked yet is Sophomore RB Julius Jones. He is running pretty good but still has not broken the 100 yd barrier in a game yet.
Parcells and company still have some grooming to do with young players learning as they go and veterans playing new schemes. With the domination last week against the favored to win the NFC Philadelphia Eagles the team showed what they are capable of. Look for that to continue as the season progresses and more wins come their way.

2 Comments:

  • At 9:55 AM, Blogger DoomsdayD said…

    Good article, but Jay Ratliff was drafted in the 7th round; he was not an undrafted FA.

     
  • At 4:55 PM, Blogger H Cox said…

    Yep I missed that one completely. Thanks for the correction and also for the comment.

     

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