players believe coaches are not doing everything to put players in position to succeed. Some coaches believe players can't or won't learn the most elementary things to realize that success. But they all agree on one thing: It's not that the effort isn't there.
"You'd like to get these things corrected," says Campbell, "and there are some things that have not looked good the last few weeks. But we're working. It's not like we just go out there and throw a football around and everybody comes in and drinks Gatorades or whatever. We're working. As players, we need to figure out what we're doing wrong here. Coaches call the plays; we gotta run 'em. We gotta run 'em. We've got to execute these things. That's our problem right now."
Well, that's part of the problem. But this team is not as good as it was with Flozell Adams at left tackle. Not an excuse, a fact. Rob Pettiti is a rookie drafted in the sixth round. He wasn't supposed to be the starting right tackle this year. We might want to consider that he's doing the best he can. Marco Rivera's play has slipped, it appears, over the last few weeks. Maybe he's wearing down. Not his fault. Doing the best he can. Several film-watchers suggested against Denver that Larry Allen had by far his worst game of the season. Doing the best he can.
And then there's Drew Bledsoe, the quarterback everyone in town suddenly seems to want to demonize.
Hey, kids: For most of this season, Bledsoe's quarterback rating has been at or above 100 and has led the NFC. After the last two games, his season rating is down to 86.1, fifth in the NFC.
Permit us to point out that 86.1 would be the second-best single season quarterback rating of Bledsoe's 13-year career. It would better his career average by 10 points. If Drew Bledsoe is being who he is, is it fair to be mad at him?
There is still time for improvement. As Campbell recalls his days with the 2000 NFC Champion Giants, "Who says we can't win four in a row and be the hottest team going into the playoffs? We were 6-6 and everybody counted us out. All of a sudden teams started losing and we won four in a row and we were the hottest team going in.
"'Course, we got beat (in the Super Bowl)."
Here's the point: The great thing about football is that it's such a team game, if you scheme right and prepare correctly and everyone does his job, you have a chance to improve or rise above your weaknesses, make the whole greater than the sum of the parts and win a game. Or two. Or four.
Or not. Parcells told us when he got here three years ago he believes you are what you are. The Cowboys still have time to change what that is this season. Just remember: They're doing the best they can. But then that just might not be enough.