Before I get into looking ahead to 2009 I must first mention that Bruce Read has been fired from the position of Dallas Cowboys special teams coach.
A lot of finger pointing has happened this season and the majority of it has been at Bruce Read's expense, but he is not all to blame for the special teams woes. Todd Archer makes a great point:
The confidence was so low in Read that Phillips had fellow assistant coaches help him midway through the season, and that didn't even work.
As much as Read is being used as a scapegoat, Phillips has to change his ways when it comes to special teams. He has to put more value in it and that means allowing whoever the new special teams coach is to use starters. James Harrison covers punts in Pittsburgh. Enough said.
I've always believed that the heart and drive of a team starts and ends with the special teams. The unit is filled with backup and fringe players (mostly), and if those guys are showing heart, grit and intensity then it spills over to the rest of the team. That was never present under Bruce Read and Wade Phillips needs to realize how important this unit is to the team.
Hat tip to deke for posting the news in his fanpost.
The great thing about bringing in a new year is the chance to start over and get things going on the right track. The traditional thing to do is to make a list of "resolutions", but those never work out and I think its a bull anyway. But that feeling of starting fresh in a new year is always a good one; you stop and take a fresh breath, look around you and everything that feels new again and you remember it like that before it all goes right back to the way it was before.
After all, nothing changes but the date, right?
Yet there is still that window of opportunity where you can grasp that good feeling and run with it, really commit to getting things going in the right direction. And it's an even better feeling when you emerge months down the line still embracing that new path you forged for yourself when you had the chance.
This is the crossroads the Dallas Cowboys find themselves at as they head into 2009. This franchise has been nothing but talk and hot air for far too long and things need to change immediately if there is going to be any hope of pulling this team out of its downward spiral. While some may be content with four winning seasons in a row, a few playoff berths, high profile free agents and a bunch of useless Pro Bowlers, the rest of us cry for something more. We know that these records are empty and lack substance. We scream for any sign of team unity and heart and we get frustrated because there have been signs that those two things actually do exist in this team.
The tough win on the road against Washington. The win last year in Buffalo. The show of defensive force against Pittsburgh.
We see these things and ask how is it they don't play like this every week? How is it that one week a team can rally around a struggling quarterback and win a miracle comeback in hostile conditions, and yet a few weeks later play like a team asleep at the wheel?
You want to say it's the coaching, but the staff has changed significantly the past few years and yet the same problems persist. So naturally you turn to the players and say those guys are uncoachable and seflish. Then the next step is to look at the owner/GM, the guy who is responsible for bringing together this rag tag team of individuals.
The point is you can play the blame game until you're blue in the face and it won't matter one bit. 99% of these players are still going to be on the field next year, and most of the coaches will be back as well. The owner sure as heck isn't going anywhere.
Short of getting rid of everyone and starting over from scratch, there is only one thing left to do:
The attitude of this team has to change and there is not better time than now. Take a look in the mirror and try to think what kind of player and teammate you want to be. Wade Phillips has vowed to change things, starting with himself. Noble but empty unless he actually shows things are different.
The only way this team can turn itself around is if each individual takes that task to heart.
Now we just have to find out who on this team has that ability.
While we lament a season that ended too soon and on such on bad note I want to say how much fun it has been to share these past few seasons with everyone here at Blogging The Boys. As a native Texan stuck in the bitter Northeast I can't even begin to express what it has meant to me to be able to share and converse with fellow Cowboys fans. Don't take this game too seriously and enjoy the ride; you know that no matter how much this season angered you, you will still be counting the days until the season opener and loving that feeling of butterflies that greets every opening kickoff. Love the journey and cherish the ride; it will make the prize that much better.
Here's to a happy and safe New Year to one and all in the BTB family.