What to do when you're down 2, when to not jump offsides, and where does an arm-waving Cowboy think he is, anyway?
I fill in the blanks here in today's FISH on FOOTBALL Cowboys Top 10 List:
1. I was watching the Patriots in Denver but I was still thinking Cowboys: If I'm a New England fan, I'm separating myself from the blind praise given Bill Belichick to wonder why he's never been able to get himself a running back. He's got a wobbly Maroney, he's got an old Fred Taylor, he's got a one-dimensional Kevin Faulk, he's got a total of four living, breathing running backs. ... but he doesn't have one who is even close to Dallas third-stringer Tashard Choice.
2. That Matt Cassel must be one crafty chap. Dallas' defense is called for five offsides in the same game? Four times in seven plays? That's got to be a record.
3. You are a bad team. You are going nowhere. You have just scored a TD against a high-profile team with 20 seconds to play. Kick the PAT and you go to OT - but you do so against a superior team. Go for the 2-point conversion and you do so with momentum on your side, the crowd on your side, and the opponent reeling just a bit. You are going to snap the ball from just a couple of yards away from the end zone; in OT, you will probably never get that close again. If you go for the 2-point conversion and fail, so what? In the grand scheme, who will ever care? But if you go for the 2 and get it? The Todd Haley Era has itself a signature. A building block. An injection of organization-wide and city-wide momentum and confidence.
And that's why, in that situation, you go for it. Always.
4. Why is Bobby Carpenter waving his arms to fire up the crowd ... at a road game?
5. Tomo Romo after the KC game: "If we continue to do this, I like our chances the rest of the way.''
Well, that depends.
If by "continue to do this" Tony means "win''? Well, yes. If Dallas continues to "do this,'' Dallas will go 14-2.
But if by "continue to do this'' Tony means "play like we did in KC"? If Dallas continues to "do this,'' Dallas will go 3-13.
6. This team makes a lot of little mistakes. The aforementioned offsides penalties. Dropped passes. The holder not getting the laces turned around.
But there is a trick to erasing (or at least covering up) mistakes: Be playmakers.
Miles Austin, of course, did just that. History will not remember his drops. (What drops?) Romo deserves credit for the same.
So now ... more defensive players need to do the same. But check out the numbers: In three of their games this year, the Cowboys have zero interceptions and zero takeaways. This team doesn't get fumble recoveries, it's waiting on DeMarcus Ware to get some sacks, it seems rather reliant on hoping the opposing offense blows itself up before it can drive 80 yards on 11 plays in eight minutes.
Maybe this is one of those "comes-in-bunches'' deals.
7. The trade that brought Roy Williams to Dallas netted the Lions a 1, 3 and 6. Those picks turned out to be Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew, Penn State receiver Derrick Williams and TCU running back Aaron Brown. Let's keep an eye on the progress of three Lions.
8. The columnists call for Wade Phillips to be fired. After a win! Won't there be plenty of losses that would make such a move more appropriate? And, all joking aside, is there really a practical reason to think that if Wade is fired in-season, while the team has a winning record and remains in playoff contention, the Cowboys will suddenly improve?
If there is a practical reason to think that, by all means, fire the coach.
But when you really think it through - Who would be his successor? Who would run the defense? Why would players react positively? - there is no practical reason to fire the coach.
Until, say, February.
9. Someone mentioned to Jerry Jones that Miles Austin was a star of the game.
"Yeah, I know," said Jones, "but I'm most pleased about ... No. 9. I'm very proud of No. 9, who came back today after a very hard week."
Is that what "Romo-friendly'' really means?
10. My thoughts and prayers are with Mike Zimmer and family. When Zim was in Dallas, he and I co-hosted a weekly radio hour that, thanks to him, was one of the football-smartest media things I've ever known about. He's a fine man, what he did last week for the Bengals was wonderful, and the loss of Vikki will be felt by everyone whose life she touched.