Don't Overreact To 0-2 Preseason

run called, instead of audibling out of the play, they went ahead and ran Barber, wanting to make sure they actually worked on running against an eight-man front.

Sure, you want to win these preseason games. Anytime you play something, you want to win. But listen to Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips on how you balance the work you need vs. winning:

"You are trying to win on the long term, not the short term, and that can throw your record off.

"It was a preseason game."

And sorry, I'm not buying some of this bull about there being a correlation between your preseason record and your regular-season record. I mean the Cowboys were 3-1 during the preseason of 2002, and I'm sure you remember well that 5-11 season. The Cowboys were 2-2 the following year, Bill Parcells' first, and they went 10-6. A 3-1 preseason record in 2005 turned in a 9-7 regular season and 3-0-1 meant no better than 9-7 the following year.

And last year when the Cowboys went 13-3? Why they went a whopping 2-2 during the preseason, losing the final two and dispelling any notion about needing momentum coming out of preseason since they won their opening five games and 12 out of the first 13.

Plus, this might be a tad trite, but need I remind you of the Cowboys preseason record in 1989, the first year of Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson? Try 3-1, and Denver needed John Elway to play the entire game and into overtime to beat the Cowboys, 24-21. That was Wade's first year, by the way, as the Broncos defensive coordinator.

Even Jones will remind you of how he and Jimmy ran off the field the next weekend, arms held high in the air after kicking a last-second field goal at Texas Stadium to defeat Houston, 30-28, in the final preseason game.

"The best I ever felt in preseason," Jones said Saturday night in Denver while recalling how close the Cowboys had come in 1989 to a perfect 4-0 preseason, the Broncos needing five quarters out of Elway to beat them.

Happy days were here again!

So they thought.

For then reality set in, the New Orleans Saints the next Sunday, when games really mattered, cold-cocked the Cowboys about as hard as I've ever seen them cold-cocked in a game, 28-0. Those 3-1 preseason Cowboys set a club record for fewest yards rushing in a game (20) while getting shut out for the first time in 54 games and the first time in all 30 of the franchise's openers - and that included the very first regular-season game played in team history, losing that one back in 1960, 35-28 to Pittsburgh.

I mean, do you realize the Cowboys, for the next 12 preseasons (1990-2001), never again had a winning record, including the 1-3-1 in 1993 (12-4) and 0-5 in 1998 (10-6)? And those were teeth of the heydays.

There is a lesson here, I do believe, about keeping your finger off the panic button - at least for now - but also a preview of what's to come. That this team is about to face unmitigated pressure this season. Because I'm starting to get the feeling anything less than 13-3, something the Cowboys have only done once before in their 48-year history and never in consecutive seasons, will be considered uncivilized.

So this is good - good preparation.

"Your goal isn't just to win the game," Phillips said of these preseason ones, "it's to progress your team."

Exactly, no matter what anyone thinks.

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