Two things generally come to my mind when watching Michael Irvin’s Fourth and Long. First, I think it is misnamed and second, I wish the Cowboys had someone with Irvin’s brand of leadership (maybe they do, but we just haven’t seen it yet).
The show should be named the 4th Quarter. Certainly these players are in the 4th quarter of their chances to make an NFL team. This title captures the urgency of the situation just as well as 4th and Long. But more importantly, competing in the Fourth Quarter is the overall theme behind Irvin’s message. Here’s an example:
“Anyone can have a 40-inch vertical jump ... I want to know how high someone can jump in the fourth quarter with the game on the line to catch a football. ... That is the kind of player I will produce.”
When Irvin makes these kinds of statements, it’s almost as if he is sending a message to the current Cowboys team. And for good reason. I think three games last year told the tale of the season: the second Redskins game, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. These games were won and lost in the Fourth Quarter. In the Fourth Quarter of the Redskins game, Marion Barber was the player Irvin envisions. Then came the Pittsburgh and Baltimore games. The Cowboys should have won those games. Period. Had they won the Fourth Quarter, they would have.
Now I know a lot of you point to injuries as the main factor that led to the disappointment last season. And I agree that but for those injuries, this team could have had a better season. However, the Cowboys were talented enough to win despite the injuries. That, to me, is what Irvin’s Fourth Quarter mentality is all about: A team that’s injured and tired but finds a way to get it done (whether its in the fourth quarter of a game or the fourth quarter of the season).