'Boys Fans: Be Careful Who Gets What Blame
I can see how everything that gets written or said about the Cowboys' loss in Philly is going to center around one Terrell Owens. And he deserves part of the blame. Personally I'm hoping the follow up to Little T Learns to Share is Little T Learns to Catch. Because, let's face it he's had problems with the catching of the ball and the alligator arms recently.
And I'm usually one to defend the media against all the political and sports-related "Oh, they're out to get me" talk. But T.O. may soon have a point. During the game, you could hear the legendary and usually repectable Troy Aikman pointing to T.O. shouting on the sidelines and saying it was a tired act. He was yelling at the O-Line, the offensive coaches, and one Drew Bledsoe. Joe Buck joined in the censure. And admittedly, maybe I should be concerned its Mike Vanderjagt who approaches him to get him refocused.
In post-game interviews, you heard Terrell Owens talk about how the Cowboys missed some opportunities as a team in the loss and hinted that a large part of the blame lay with Bledsoe. You then heard the reporters seeking to goad him into saying something more direct and controversial, which he resisted, excpet to say you can look at the film. Sounds like an old Bill Parcells line.
Now, I'm guessing that's the bulk of what you'll hear about after this game. You won't hear the other half of the story. The part where he gives his quarterback five as they trot back onto the field for one last possession. The part where he cheers on his defensive mates with all his energy. The part where he states very clearly he needs to work harder and be prepared to help this team win ballgames.
He's a small part of the blame and I'm betting he gets better. More of the blame lies in two areas that harken back to 2005.
Let's start with the play of the safeties in pass defense. For now, I have to retract my previous statement that Roy Williams has become a complete player. He completely blew a coverage on a first half play leading to a Philly score and assisted rookie Pat Watkins on another blown coverage on the second half flea flicker that gave Philly a late seven-point lead. And, of courrse, this was the second time Watkins was juked out of his jock on a double move by those "sterling" Eagle receivers. So safety may once again be an issue. I expect Watkins will learn. Williams? I'm not so sure. He brings a hell of a lot to the table, but this is something we must just have to learn to live with as fans.
And of course, there's turnover machine Drew Bledsoe who managed under six yard per pass attempt. Three fumbles, one of which he lost and led to an Eagle score. At least two of the three interceptions did, too. And let's not forget the horrible underthrow in the fourth quarter with Owens strolling uncovered toward the corner of the end zone.
What a story line that would have been. Owens had struggled for three quarters before coming to life in the fourth quarter. That would have completely turned Owens' day, and perhaps his season, around.
And let's also not forget the pick-six Bledsoe threw on second-and-goal with under forty seconds to play trying to force a pass into coverage to Jason Witten. This was the last of many bonehead plays on the part of Bledsoe. You have four downs to get in the end zone. If no one's open, you throw the ball away until you absolutely have to complete the pass because it's either fourth down or time has run out on the clock.
And I was ready to praise Bledsoe. His hard-nose scramble for a touchdown. His beautiful bomb on 4th-and-18 to Terry Glenn leading to the pass interference call and setting up that final chance to tie the game despite being beat up all game. Despite holding the ball way too long several times leading to yard-eating sacks and turnovers. I was ready to give him kudos, even if he had ended up throwing an interception on fourth-and-goal at game's end. But, no. He reminded us why he is, at best, a .500 quarterback.
He supposedly has the tools but doesn't have Colt McCoy's equine balls in his jock. Instead of stepping up into a blitz, he lofts dangerous passes off his back foot as if he's Michael Finley shooting a fadeaway jumper. This is why the Cowboys have an average future in front of them as long as he leads the team.
The quarterback watch has officially begun.