FRISCO, Texas – Funny thing about these bye weeks in the NFL.
You yearn for them, then you can't wait for them to go bye-bye.
Gosh darn, it's about time the Cowboys get back to work, and they do so on a fulltime basis Thursday, Friday and Saturday preparing for the Monday night encounter at AT&T Stadium with the equally 3-4 Tennessee Titans, who almost like the Cowboys have lost three of their four road games so far instead of all four.
We've had just about enough of the debate over trading a first-round draft choice of Amari Cooper or those without any knowledge of the situation wondering why in the world the Cowboys would relieve offensive line coach Paul Alexander of his duties.
Or folks worrying their heads over the head coach going to a World Series game on a Friday night in L.A. instead of trying to draw up some new plays late into the night with no game on Sunday.
Give us something more tangible to discuss, like punting on fourth down instead of going for it or maybe going for a two-point conversion down one point with 31 seconds left in the game and failing on two tries thanks to a defensive penalty. They give you no points in this league for being "aggressive" when you fail.
So, here's you a little trick or trick this Halloween evening.
· Good To Go: Cooper might have just arrived, and won't have a full practice until Thursday, but even though this was a bye week, Cowboys wide receiver coach Sanjay Lal worked with him for three days out in the Bay Area. Cooper went back to get his things. Lal had previously planned to be out there to visit his mother. The two got together on a decent field out there, working on routes, working on steps, just the two of them. Sounds as if Cooper picked things up quickly.
· Rent-a-receiver: That's what these teams have done, Philadelphia and Houston with the trades they've made, unlike the Cowboys whose intentions trading a first-round pick for Amari Cooper are to keep the 24-year-old not just for nine games but for the future. The Eagles are renting Golden Tate, already 30, and in the last year of his contract. Houston is renting soon-to-be 31-year old Demaryius Thomas with one-year left on his contract because of losing Will Fuller for the season.
· Bad Fit: Sometimes you hire a guy, and it's just a bad fit. Sometimes it turns out to be a total disconnect for sure. That's what happened with offensive line coach Paul Alexander. He just didn't fit into the room, onto the staff. And the best thing you can do is pull out the eraser and move on. In the very words of Bill Parcells, he would say over and over again, if you are spending too much time talking about someone on your staff, it's time to move on. So, the Cowboys, with a no-secret struggling offensive line, have, firing Alexander mid-season and promoting Marc Colombo from assistant OL coach to OL coach and bringing in their former long-time offensive line coach Hudson Houck as a sounding-board advisor.
· Hud Hud: Just had to ask Hudson what in the world is he doing returning to coach at age 75. I mean, if you could see where he retired to just outside Palm Springs after a 40-year coaching career, with the golf course fairway just a pitching wedge from his back porch and a mountain structure on the other side of the fairway, you'd wonder, too. Hud told me his wife basically said the same thing. He'll help out Colombo in his first head position coaching job.
· Welcome Back: Cowboys perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith seems quite happy Houck is returning, even if it's in a consultant role. "It's always great to see an old face, having Hud here," Smith said. "Hud knows me better than anybody. He helped me out a lot my first year. He's going to be a big help having him here." And when asked if he felt responsible for Alexander getting fired, the inference being the offensive linemen didn't play up to its expected standard, the normally quiet and reserved Smith said, "No, not at all. It's something that happens and it's really nobody's fault. No one is really in control of something like that. We don't really pay too much attention to it and just focus on what we can control."
· De-Fence: How about a moment for what is right with this 3-4 team? Like the defense, ranked third in total defense, second in scoring offense and nearly impenetrable at home, giving up just an average of 14.6 points a game, only Detroit with 24 points scoring more than 13 in those three home games, uh, all wins.
· Matchups Matter: Maybe the trend of the Cowboys winning all three home games and losing all four road games has to do with matchups. Here are the defensive rankings of the teams beating the Cowboys on the road: Carolina 13th, Seattle 5th, Houston 9th and Washington 4th. Then here are the defensive rankings of the three teams the Cowboys have beaten at AT&T: Giants 23rd, Detroit 19th and Jacksonville the outlier at 2nd. But think about this: After getting off to a 3-1 start, the Jaguars have now lost four straight, giving up 30, 40, 20 and 24, an average of 28.5 a game, nothing suggesting they are the league's second best defense.
Here's hoping those Halloween goblins didn't getcha Wednesday night.