Jan. 17, 2004, 5:46 p.m. (CST)
replacement at tight ends, there had been some speculation Ben Coates, who helped out during training camp this past summer, might be the guy, but he recently was named the head coach at Livingston College . . . . Nothing, though, in Monday's announcement suggested the staff had been finalized, which means Parcells still could make some changes if someone he absolutely wants comes available . . . .
Duh, wish my sidekick on the Dallas Cowboys Channel Bill Jones had delivered me this bit of information before I picked three of the four road teams to win playoff games this past weekend: Since the playoffs were expanded in 1990, 25 of the 28 NFC homes teams in the divisional round of the playoffs had won. Make that 27 of 30 with Philly and Atlanta winning this past weekend. The only three to lose? Try San Francisco losing to Green Bay in 1995, Chicago losing to Philly in 2001 and last year St. Louis losing to Carolina . . . . The home teams in the AFC are almost as dominating in this second round, now having won 22 of the 30 games with Pittsburgh (in overtime) and New England prevailing this weekend. That's a lesson I won't soon forget, picking three road teams to win this past weekend. What an idiot . . . .
Save your emails. I already got the first one, pointing out defenses win playoff games, not star quarterbacks, as I suggested after the first round of this year's playoffs. Well, yeah, defenses do help. But let me remind you, the four quarterbacks to win this weekend were Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. Let's see, that's an NFC Offensive Player of the Year candidate, a first pick in the draft, a two-time Super Bowl MVP and this year's Offensive Rookie of the Year. Not exactly Aaron Brooks, Jake Plummer, Brian Griese and Josh McCown . . . .
What must have made an impression on Parcells, Jones and the rest of the Cowboys out here had to be the over-riding effect of pressuring quarterbacks, no matter if it's from your defensive front or manufactured through blitzing. That, more than anything, is why New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Atlanta are advancing. The Eagles and Steelers each registered three sacks. Atlanta had four, and nearly beat Marc Bulger to a pulp. Even Indy sacked Brady three times. Now Peyton Manning actually was only sacked once, but he was harassed to no end, never ever getting comfortable in the pocket. There is no substitute for having your own Dwight Freeney or Willie McGinest or Jevon Kearse or Patrick Kearney or Shaun Ellis or James Farrior . . . .
So all you out there, save yourself the time asking what position the Cowboys most need to fill in the 2005 draft or free agency. Here is the answer, and it should be most apparent now to you, too: Someone who can get to the quarterback, and I don't care if he gets there from the defensive end position, defensive tackle or linebacker. Just someone . . . who gets there.
Amazing the stuff you can learn sitting on your couch.