Look, it can't all be T.O.'s fault. A big part, most def. If the Cowboys paid Owens for every touchdown (12) and Owens paid the Cowboys for every drop (14), heading into Sunday's season finale the receiver would be in the red. He's got a crippled finger and a crappy disposition, and if, for once, my thinking parallels Jean-Jacques Taylor's, you know something glaringly wrong is going down.
Coach Bill Parcells knows T.O.'s drops and distractions are killin' his team, but he's not about to say so. Asked at Thursday's press conference whether Owens was committing too many drops, Parcells stayed loyal to his "I dunno" philosophy toward "the player."
"I don't know," Parcells said. See, toldja. When pressed, Parcells offered, "I have an opinion, but I'm going to keep it to myself." Why is that? "Because," Parcells snapped, "that's the end of the press conference." Maybe the Fat Fish sees the finish line with Owens and doesn't want to cause an ugly incident. Maybe he's just being a jerk who's jealous of this town's only bigger jerk. Or, just maybe, Parcells has a bigger Rubik's Cube to tinker with -- like his defense.
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Way back in Oxnard, Calif. some pom-pom waving media types predicted this defense would be "Doomsday III." I'll pause a second while you dap that morning coffee you just sprayed through your nose. Actually, it wasn't unrealistic to expect, even demand, a dominating performance from that side of the ball.
Think about it: The Cowboys started the season with 10 of its 11 defensive starters as No. 1 draft picks or highly paid free agents (only rookie safety Patrick Watkins didn't fit the bill). Even with the mid-season loss of Greg Ellis, the Cowboys (who haven't used a first-round pick on an offensive player since tight end David LaFleur in 1997) aren't getting the bang for their buck. Raise your hand if you still think Bobby Carpenter was a good choice.
Dallas is ranked 12th overall and has been gashed at home by New York (36 points), New Orleans (42 points) and the Eagles (204 rushing yards). Other than DeMarcus Ware, the front seven creates no pressure on quarterbacks. And as a cover safety, Roy Williams is a really good linebacker.
Parcells is so worried about this group that we might even see a stunning schematic switch back to the 4-3 against the Lions. We'd love to hear defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's thoughts but, of course, Parcells doesn't allow assistants to talk to the media. Unfortunately, since Zimmer's contract is up at the end of the season, the next time you hear from him might be when he's lobbying for a new job. --Richie Whitt