The League

Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Boys' bigger surprise


There's little doubt that more was expected of the Cowboys and Vikings this season. Both teams were coming off playoff seasons and both had virtually the same rosters as the year before.

But 11 weeks have come and gone and both teams have already had to replace head coaches. Even though the Cowboys have won two straight games, neither team has much hope for a miracle finish and even if they do turn things around, the Falcons, Eagles, Packers, Saints, Bucs and Bears would have to suffer major collapses down the stretch in order for either of them to sneak into the postseason.

And you could have seen the Vikings' downfall from a mile away if you were looking hard enough. Brett Favre can still do things on the football field that make your eyes bug out of your head, but at his age, he was bound to have a setback. Entering the season, he was still recovering from offseason ankle surgery, he was without his top target from 2009 in Sidney Rice (hip surgery), and he once again skipped all of training camp.

It still boggles my mind when people give Favre a free pass when he avoids training camp like it's the plague. He may know the offense like the back of his hand, but he can't develop timing or cohesion with his receivers sitting on his farm in Mississippi. In the opener against New Orleans, it took him nearly a quarter and a half to throw an accurate pass and weeks later his timing with guys like Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian was still off. Had he bothered to show up to camp, maybe he wouldn't have had to use the first week of the season as a personal practice.

But I digress. The Vikings were destined to have a setback after what they accomplished last year and not only because of Favre, but because of Brad Childress. Not to kick a horse while he's down, but Childress is one of many NFL coaches that don't have a clue on how to best maximize the talent at his disposal. It's amazing how many times he misused Adrian Peterson (especially late in games) or failed to get Percy Harvin in open space more.

He was also terrible with developing and maintaining relationships with players. Favre and Harvin were just the latest two that had issues with Childress over the past year. But you can add Terrell Owens, Gus Frerotte and Brad Johnson to that mix, too. Viking players put up with him last year because they won, but they had no issue giving up for a man they didn't respect.

No, the Cowboys are the bigger disappointment. They've had their issues with late season collapses in the past, but after they finally got the playoff monkey off their backs last year, many people thought this was their season.

And how could you disagree with that? Heading into the new year, the Cowboys seemingly had fewer weaknesses than any team in the NFC. The safety position was a bit of a mystery, but even then pundits assumed that the defensive mastermind that is Wade Phillips would figure out a way to mask any potential issues on that side of the ball.

NFL fans that are sick of the media's love affection with the Cowboys will disagree, but there's no question that Dallas is loaded with talent. Put Jon Kitna under center for most teams in the NFL and they might collect one or two wins the rest of the year. But on the Cowboys? He's won two games the past two weeks.

It's not talent that Dallas has been lacking in.

Their loss to the Packers three weeks ago really summed up the Cowboys' season. Their effort was pathetic, their play was dismal and their execution was non-existent. But the only reason all of that was still surprising was because so much was expected of the 'Boys heading into 2010. It was hard not to think about them playing on their home turf come February. But then everything spiraled out of control and Phillips was canned.

The Vikings' demise was rather easy to spot. The same cannot be said for what has transpired with the Cowboys.

By Anthony Stalter  |  November 23, 2010; 12:30 AM ET  | Category:  Brett Favre , Coaching , Dallas Cowboys , Minnesota Vikings , NFC Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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