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"What they're saying" - Lions game

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I wasn't going to start 2007 with a laundry list of negativism. I resolved to stay positive about the Cowboys' chances, but I have to cover what happened yesterday. So for the second post of 2007, I give you the mental state of the Dallas Cowboys, and it's anything but positive. In this week's "what they're saying" edition the Cowboys players say they are confused, mad, and aren't a confident team.

Let's start with Romo Blaming part of this loss on Romo seems to be a touchy subject for some fans. So let me address that point first. I'm not saying Romo lost us the game, in truth he was a big reason we were even in the game; he had drives where he looked like a world-beater. But he's got to get some consistency going, and he has to quit turning over the ball for us to win. With Romo, you get Jekyll and Hyde, sometimes on the very same play. Yes, the play when he fumbled in the endzone was just amazing, recovering like he did and getting the first down was sublime. The problem is he shouldn't be fumbling the ball in our endzone, or anyplace for that matter. As a QB, you can't put the ball on the ground four times and expect to win.

You also can't throw interceptions at crucial moments. While you can point to the fact that the Cowboys scored 31 points and that should be good enough for a win, the reality is that with this team, and its defense, it's not. If you're going to win as a QB with this team, you have to understand this team, and giving the opponents easy scores is going to compound your problems three-fold. You know your defense is going to give up points, if you help with that, it's going to be hard to score enough points to win. So throwing an interception deep in your own territory when you are only losing 23-21 in the 3rd quarter is one of the worst things you can do. The Lions cashed in Romo's mistakes for 10 points on the day, and only Newman's punt return saved the seven points Romo gave up when he fumbled in the redzone.

I recognize the good things he did in the game. He threw for over 300 yards and 2TD's which is a nice stat line - minus the turnovers - and he had some absolutely brilliant plays. He wasn't getting any help from his line or his running backs, and he was forced to play catch-up a lot of the day. I firmly believe Romo has a big future in front of him, but right now he's learning on the job, and he's making the mistakes we all suspected he would; only we thought they would come during his first games. He's playing like a very good, young QB who's making some bad decisions and being too careless with the football. If he eliminates that problem, he gives the team a chance to win.

Parcells on Romo:

"You see today, running around not aware, trying to make something out of nothing down in the red zone early in the third quarter, and we have a fumble," Parcells said. "It just takes points away from you."

Romo on Romo:


"It's very frustrating and disappointing for me," Romo said. "It's one of those weeks where I'm going to have to let it go today when I get out of here."

Terry Glenn on Romo:

"He's got a lot of weight on his shoulders and a lot of pressure on him to perform," Cowboys receiver Terry Glenn said. "He jumped out there kind of hot because teams really didn't understand him."

More Parcells:

But as Parcells began to recount the day's inconsistencies, he said of Romo, "That's what happens under pressure sometimes. That's what happens.

"I think his carelessness with the ball, particularly when he has it in his hand there, what you're seeing is what I saw in his first year, and now it's reared its head again."
"He does improvise and get out of trouble and makes some plays," Parcells said of his quarterback. "He did that four or five times [Sunday].

"But at the end of the day, that never offsets what it costs you. You see [Sunday], running around, not aware, trying to make something out of nothing down in the red zone, and we have a fumble. It just takes points away from you."


OK, so we beaten up on Romo, but only because we know he's good enough to win games for us.

Another guy who's good enough to help us win is Terence Newman. But he had a bad day, interrupted by a brilliant punt return, but he cost us big time in this game. A lot of talking Terence, but not much doing.

"The challenges, we didn't rise to them, by any means," Newman said.

"That's about all I can say about that."

"I definitely have to point a finger at myself," Newman said. "I'm a reason we gave up 14 points."


All this talking is getting us nowhere.
"In my four years here, I've never gone through something like last week," linebacker Bradie James said. "We didn't know what was being said. But it's about us on the field. You can't point fingers.... We believe some things were taken out of context. But none of the talking matters right now."

Maybe the Cowboys should collectively take a vow of silence this week. Especially the defense, who got humiliated at home.

"The Lions just hung 39 points in our house," he said. "We have to be honest about our performance.... I'm not talking about Terence's comments, because I think it's good to challenge teammates, but we have to look at ourselves, our preparation, what we're doing during the week. We need to be honest with ourselves."

The Cowboys tried anything and everything to improve the defense this week.

They went to a 4-3 alignment more than at any other point this season.

Rookie linebacker Bobby Carpenter made his first start.

Safety Tony Parrish, who was signed off waivers earlier this month, was active for the first time as a Cowboy.

Defensive linebacker Stephen Bowen was active for the first time this season, and he had one sack.

Linebacker Junior Glymph was active.

Defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman saw more time, and he chipped in with a sack.

And still, "something is missing," said linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who had three sacks.


So the question becomes - was this defense really as good as it seemed earlier in the year?
"You have to question some of it. It's nature. Look at what we put out there," nose tackle Jason Ferguson said. "Things have been on the line every game, and we haven't shown up for whatever reason."

Could Greg Ellis really have meant so much?

Bill Parcells was despondent over the loss.

"This is about as tough as it can get," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "I can't tell you how disappointed I am. I want so much for my team to be finishing strong and going into the tournament with a good attitude. But that is going to be difficult."

"Of course, I take it personal," Parcells said. "This is my life. This what I have been doing all these years. I can't tell you how disappointed I am."


Last week, Parcells tried to be the optimist; I don't think that will work twice in a row. He better dream up something quick, because his team looks to be crumbling.
Cornerback Aaron Glenn said what's most frustrating is that no one has any answers for what's ailing the Cowboys -- not the players or the coaches.

"We are all low right now," Glenn said. "Not just Bill. We don't know what to do. But we do know we are in the playoffs. At least we have a chance."


Ah yes, we still have the playoffs, we still have a chance. That's the rallying cry for the week, anything can happen.
"The most important thing you have to do right now is realize that, even though we lost the last regular-season games, we are in the postseason," said wide receiver Terrell Owens, who caught six passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. "Once you're in the postseason, it's anybody's game."

"We're going to get a chance . . . this isn't our last ball game," said [Jerry] Jones, who was rather disgusted by his team's performance last Monday in a 23-7 loss to the Eagles, but was more enthusiastic after losing to the Lions. "We're going to get a chance to go into (the playoffs). I'm going to look at things very positive."

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was somewhere in the middle. His demeanor wasn't too different from Parcells', but he did try to focus on the "bright spots" of his team heading into the playoffs.

"It doesn't feel good at all right now," said Romo, who lost two fumbles and threw an interception despite passing for 321 yards and two touchdowns. "I've got to go back and figure out how to let this go. After today, it doesn't matter. Everything will be written about how the next week or three weeks go. That allows us to at least go back to work and be ready to go. We'll be ready."

"As bad as I feel right now, I'll able to smile tomorrow because we're in the playoffs and we have a chance to win the whole thing," Romo said. "Only 12 teams have a chance to do that. From that perspective, that's all I could ask for."


The problem is, it sounds like no one has any idea of what to do to fix this team.
"There is no lining in the sky," defensive end Marcus Spears said. "There is no sun shining bright. It's just bad and gloomy, and you have to move on."

"You can't say it's this and fix it," linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. "I'm a player, and I can't explain it myself. We've got to get our mojo back. It was something we had in the beginning of the season. We're trying to get it back."

Newman has an idea, and I think it has some merit.

"We talked about playing with emotion, and I don't think it was there," Newman said. "We were high on a couple of plays, and when we made a couple of plays, nobody celebrated, so I think we got to play with a lot of emotion and a lot more heart."

When the Lions' receiver cracked that star logo on the wall, I wanted Bradie James to walk over there, pull it off the wall, throw it down on the Cowboys sideline, gather the whole defense around it, and vow to make the Lions offense pay in blood and bones. Instead, we rolled over. We had no fight on defense.

This team has no heart. But they have one week to get some heart, they have one week to erase all that's happened in the last month. They need to come out on Saturday foot-loose and fancy-free, they need to play like they've got nothing to lose, even though they know they have everything to lose.