|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Sept. 11, 2006 - For all of the talk about this Cowboys' roster being the best and deepest that Bill Parcells has compiled in his four seasons as head coach, the play on the field looked all too familiar Sunday.
The Cowboys didn't just lose the season opener to Jacksonville, 24-17, they did it in the same frustrating, disheartening fashion they have lost so many times in the last decade - including three years under Parcells.
How do they disappoint us? Let us count the ways:
Awful at quarterback - In evaluating Byron Leftwich, FOX commentator Troy Aikman said a pocket passer needs to have a 65-percent completion percentage to be effective. Bledsoe is a statue in the pocket and yet he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, missed wide open receivers and threw three crushing interceptions.
For two years, we watched Vinny Intercepte-verde get progressively worse. Now, we're doing the same with Bledsoe after he tailed off miserably at the end of last season. I don't know if Tony Romo is the answer, but it's clear that Bledsoe (or should we call him Badsoe) isn't.
Badsoe is a lot like Rangers starting pitcher Kevin Millwood. Both are serviceable, but neither will consistently make the must-have plays for you. When your ace pitcher or your starting quarterback has the ball in his hands with an opportunity to win the game, fans should feel comfortable. But, with Badsoe and Millwood, it's more like dread.
Defensive fourth-quarter meltdown - The Cowboys seemingly have good defenses every year, but they inevitably give up big drives in the fourth quarter. It happened again Sunday, as poor secondary play allowed Jax to score two TDs in the fourth.
Lack of pass rush - The Cowboys did sack Leftwich once, but that was seemingly the only time he felt any pressure. If you play soft on the corners and don't blitz, what are you doing?
Bad kicking - Another missed 30-something yard field goal, a poorly executed onside kick. Another loss.
Penalties - Nine penalties. One of them takes away a TD, another nullified a 20-yard gain, another wipes out a 15-yard gain. Left tackle Flozell Adams had two drive-killing penalties to go with the two sacks he gave up. And that's supposedly your best offensive lineman.
Poor running game - The Cowboys ran the ball 22 times for 88 yards. Take away two long runs by Julius Jones and the Cowboys averaged less than 2.0 yards per carry.
Parcells was supposed to be a solver of most of those problems, at least that's what we were told. He would be a disciplinarian who would eliminate unnecessary penalties, re-ignite an old-style running game and pass rush, and concentrate on the details of the game like kicking.
After three-plus years, we're still waiting.