The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Cowboys should have been better

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Both the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys have had extremely disappointing seasons that will have them home for the playoffs, and both teams have had common denominators - key injuries, defensive underperformance, and bad drafts catching up to the franchises. We know full well that some Vikings players were playing "in spite of" recently deposed head coach Brad Childress, but as weird as that sounds, I think it's understandable. Childress made his bed by refusing to communicate with others and creating a culture of mistrust and hostility.

What then can we say of Wade Phillips? The former Cowboys coach is a good guy by anyone's measure - not the kind of disciplinarian some coaches are, but good enough to post a winning overall record in his Dallas tenure (admittedly with the team Bill Parcells built). What I find to be most distressing about the Cowboys is how they're playing since Phillips was fired a couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden, guys like cornerback Mike Jenkins, who should have been benched for his pathetic lack of effort against the Packers in the 45-7 loss that sealed Phillips' fate three weeks ago, are playing more to their potential. All of a sudden, interim head coach Jason Garrett, who was hamstringing this very same team with his questionable play calling, is a motivational genius, simply because the Cowboys are playing like they're paid to play.

Frankly, I think it's repugnant.

You know that the Vikings players hated Childress, but you could see them on the field and you never questioned the efforts of any of the players, Randy Moss excepted. There were (and are) roster issues, to be sure, but Adrian Peterson ran just as hard and Jared Allen tried to get around the left tackle as in years before; it just so happened that the production didn't match the effort anymore. But when you have a team basically saying that they're only going to play to their potential for a coach that holds them accountable ... well, I'm not okay with that. I think the same players who loafed under Wade Phillips will eventually do the same thing for Jason Garrett because it is in their nature to do so if they can get away with it.

It's the worst insult you can give a professional football player to say that he isn't trying hard. It's such a team game that when you aren't giving maximum effort, you're not just preventing your best football, you're also putting yourself and your teammates in the way of possible injuries. But when I see a Cowboys team that can turn it on and play at a much higher level just because they feel like it, I see a repudiation of everything I love about the game.

By Doug Farrar  |  November 23, 2010; 9:18 AM ET  | Category:  Brett Favre , Coaching , Dallas Cowboys , Doug Farrar , Minnesota Vikings , NFC Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Deeply disappointing | Next: Inevitable in Minnesota, not so in Big 'D'

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