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Dallas Cowboys, the Media and Fan's Expectations..

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Normally around this time I would post my "thoughts on the game", a few quick hitting things that stuck in my mind about the game the day after it happened. Then, during the game I got an idea for a post along the lines of "Something is not right with Romo." Yet this morning I woke up, read some articles on the internet about the game, glanced at the comments in the post-game thread and then listened to Sirius NFL radio on the way to work this morning. I only listened for about 10 minutes and then turned the radio off, and drove the rest of the way to work with nothing but the sound of the road and the the thoughts that were turning over in my head. It made me realize that there are a number of things I need to get off my chest, and maybe I should wait until later in the day when I wasn't so emotional over them.

I am a Dallas Cowboys homer. I have to be; it is genetically infused into my DNA. I also have spent the past eight years living in New England, where at every turn I had to deal with anti-Cowboys sentiment and stood by my team no matter what happened. Troy Aikman retired from football while I was in boot camp. Emmitt Smith broke Walter Payton's record when I was in Italy. I found out Bill Parcells was the new coach of the Cowboys in July. I have been separated from my beloved team for far too long and when I transferred to shore duty I made it my vow that I would do all I could to immerse myself in anything and everything Dallas Cowboys. You don't realize how much you miss or need something until it is gone. This feeling is probably why I appreciate the Cowboys and wins, even some losses more than I should.

But I can freely admit something is just not right. I should be enjoying this season more than I am and it's starting to tick me off. I haven't had a lot of opportunities in my adult life to enjoy the Cowboys and when I do, the team has a combined record of 17-5 since I came home. I want to savor it and I can't and I decided to look at why.

On the Dallas Cowboys;

Mickey Spagnola described it best when talking about yesterday's game: "It was two steps forward, one step back." The Cowboys would do some pretty awesome stuff, then would let the Bengals right back into it with some stupid play. Yeah, the defense wasn't awesome but I thought they did pretty darn good considering the field position the Bengal were handed throughout the game. I said going into is that with Carson Palmer playing the Bengals had the ability to give our defense some fits. All game long the only drive the Cowboys allowed that was longer than 37 yards (one which started at the Dallas 37) was a 72 yard drive to open the third quarter.

The Cowboys had a specific gameplan against the Bengals, and I don't think part of that was to allow Cincinnati an average field position of the Bengals' 42. So stop calling for Brian Stewart's head. It's not going to happen anytime soon. Special teams didn't do the Cowboys' defense any favors in this game. One thing that does that does need to improve is the pass rush. Too many times I saw Ware and Ellis in pass coverage. That's just odd to me.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and say this defense is great because it is a far cry from dominant. There isn't a tenacity to this defense that we've seen in the past, even last year. It's as if they are so afraid of getting burned deep that the players are timid of playing aggressive and trying to make a big play. It's the perfect example of bend but don't break defense and it is absolutely maddening to watch.

Wade Phillips needs to figure out how to put a fire into the team. Too many heads hanging on the sideline, too many guys feeling down and pissed about a play gone wrong. I don't need him to call out guys in the media, but for some reason the past few games it's like the Cowboys are afraid to make mistakes and when they do it's the end of the world. How they managed to come out of that funk they were in the 3rd quarter and score two huge touchdowns is beyond me. Terrell Owens getting emotional on the sidelines is indicative of the stress and pressure these guys are feeling right now. The Cowboys came alive and looked focused and sharp on the final touchdown drive. Let's hope it carries over.

On the media;

I almost wish I could just watch the game, enjoy it and move on.

We didn't get the game on TV where I live so I stayed at home, plugged the laptop into the big screen and watched a fuzzy and choppy internet feed of the game, the second half of which I muted because Phil Simms makes me want to yak. When the game was over I was feeling pretty good. Not ecstatic about some of the plays that were made but glad the Cowboys didn't let their mistakes bite them too much.

Then I open the internet and everything changes. It's funny how the media can twist things to their liking. "Cowboys hold off pesky Bengals"; compared to "Cowboys nearly bungle win over Bengals". Same story, different tunes. You have some in the media berating the Cowboys in every fashion for not destroying the Bengals, the same team that took the Giants to overtime just two weeks ago. When Wade Phillips and Tony Romo got a bit defensive over the win, I understood. I wouldn't like it if I fought hard and overcame some mistakes to score two fourth quarter touchdowns, only to have people ask if I was disappointed afterward. I would be pissed and I give Romo props for not going off on the media yet.

Matt Mosely: "If the Cowboys truly want to be considered an elite team, it's not simply about winning and losing."

You know, not once have I heard any member of the Dallas Cowboys say they should be considered a championship team. Not once have I heard a player say the team is going to win the Super Bowl. Who cares if their not "considered" an elite team? Its October!! The goal is to win the game, improve on your weak spots and move on to the next opponent. The Cowboys are 4-1 and yet all I hear and read is questions, doubts, people "jumping off the bandwagon", asking if they're for real. Man, I just want more numbers in the win column than in the loss column. I don't care how the wins come, just win baby.

I'm not a big fan of comparing teams from two different eras, but unfortunately this Dallas Cowboys team will be put up against the team of the 1990's until they win a championship. Well, guess what? They weren't perfect either. Bad losses to okay teams, wins where not everything went well. In 1992 Troy Aikman had 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions; this year Romo is on pace for 34 interceptions and 16 interceptions. There were some calling for Aikman to benched after a 3 interception performance against the Eagles. Some said he didn't have it to lead a team in the playoffs. Sound familiar?

Now the same pressure is on Romo, yet this time there's a lot more scrutiny than there was 16 years ago. ESPN, NFL Network, blogs, internet writers, sports magazines, all looking to get their opinion heard. And a part of that is cornering players and doing their best to goad them into saying something tantalizing. It works with T.O.; Romo just stands there and takes his lumps. He tries to keep his awe shucks attitude but it looks like he may be wearing thin. I don't see this type of scrutiny with other players, other team. Maybe the Giants but they have some free reign right now.

I wish the Cowboys could put a lock on the gate to Valley Ranch and not allow the press back in until February.

On the fans;

I've said it before and it's never been truer until now: Dallas Cowboys fans are spoiled rotten.

I recently took a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was amazed at how well the Dallas Cowboys are represented there. Everywhere you turn its Dallas Cowboys. We grow up as fans accustomed to greatness and get anxious and apprehensive when were kept without it. The Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996 and we as fans are getting restless. That doesn't mean we have to lose our common sense.

I've always been a believer that a true fan backs his or her team through thick and thin. If you were there when things were tough then it's all the more sweeter when it all goes right. If you abandon ship when adversity rears its head, what kind of fan can you call yourself? I cheered just as loud for the Cowboys in 2002 as I do now. We've won 4 games already and it's October! Remember what it was like all those years ago when making it to the playoffs was just a dream? Now the Cowboys have a pretty good team, and have been slowly building for a few years now. We can smell that playoff win, taste that Super Bowl victory and we get frustrated when things don't go perfectly along the way.

This is a long season. Championships aren't won in October. All that matters is that you win the games so that at the end of the season you have a better record than the other guys. Along the way you improve, you build upon things you did wrong and you gel as a team. If you don't play up to par against a bad team, well you grit your teeth and win and move on to the next guy. I would never have imagined that if we were 4-1 at this point I would be reading about coaches who need to get fired, players needing to be benched and how this team won't ever win a Super Bowl.

Wow.

Take a step back for a second and just enjoy the ride. Watch your favorite team and be thankful they're winning. Take a step away from the blogs and the endless analysis and all of the hoopla and appreciate what you are watching. It's a great sport that we are a fan of and your favorite team is pretty good. Be concerned but don't dwell on all the negatives. Try to be positive because before you know it things will be on the downswing again and you'll wish you had enjoyed the good times more.

Be thankful, and enjoy the game.