The League

Leonard Shapiro

Leonard Shapiro

Washington Post sports reporter, editor and columnist who has served on the NFL HOF Selection Committee.

Hail Leon Lett


Heavens to Leon Lett, what were the Dallas Cowboys thinking?

How does a team not take a knee deep in its own territory the final seconds of the first half in a close game? How does a veteran quarterback with scads of skills pitch the ball sideways to a running back instead of merely tucking the ball in his gut and falling down, the better to regroup at intermission? How does a professional offensive lineman blatantly try to clothesline and hold a pass rusher on the final play of the game, negating a tying touchdown that surely would have been followed by a game-winning extra point?

But most of all, how does Wade Phillips manage to keep his job, year after three straight years of unfulfilled expectations for an under-achieving Dallas franchise annually picked to win the NFC East and then go deep into the playoffs.

If I'm Jerry Jones, I'd stop getting distracted by making those silly cameo appearances on Entourage and even sillier commercials with Daniel Snyder (would you buy a used football player from either one) and focus on finding a head football coach who can get it done. Mike Shanahan was on the open market a year ago, and Snyder beat him to it. Good for The Danny. Still, there are plenty of other big-time head coaches now on the sidelines -- Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Herman Edwards, among others. Perhaps a telephone call by Jones to one of them sooner than later might be in order.

Are the Cowboys of the last few seasons the most overrated team in NFL history, as my friend Michael Wilbon wrote after the Pokes' devastating defeat Sunday night at FedEx Field? That may be stretching it a bit, particularly after only one game when two out of five starters on the offensive line were out with injuries.

I still have a feeling they're the best team in a division that is no longer the best in football, though the old Long Island boy in me still believes the Giants will win the East. And despite the giddy delirium now on display in the Nation's Capital, I'm still thinking 8-8 is about the best the Redskins will do in a season that began when their offense could not muster a touchdown Sunday night, with a receiving and running back corps that remains slightly above average, at best.

In any case, good for Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen, who at least have given Redskins fans legitimate hope that happier days are still to come. Not as many as they'd like this year, but if Snyder keeps his pledge to both of them that he'll leave them alone on all things football, this is a team moving in the right direction. That being said, it's still way too early to make any definitive prognosis on either team, except to say it may be time to say goodbye Wade Phillips, and hello who knows?

By Leonard Shapiro  |  September 14, 2010; 12:20 AM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , Leonard Shapiro , New York Giants , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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