Offense Open To Questions

similar situations at Arizona, it was a pass to Jones, an incompletion to Keyshawn Johnson and a little flair to Thomas. And against Seattle, it was two screens to Jones and a 13-yard completion to Patrick Crayton.

"I think he treats each game as its own entity," Bledsoe said, refuting the idea of Parcells becoming ultra-conservative on offense this year. "At times, if it's third-and-18, he'll weigh the percentages and decide if he should force it deep downfield and chance a negative play or just dump the ball to Julius and get what we can."

Bledsoe means Parcells will allow the game situation dictate which way he goes: If the defense is playing well, he'll expect Parcells to go conservative. If the Cowboys are playing an opponent known for putting up points, he'll step on the gas pedal, especially if the Cowboys are behind by more than 10 points.

So it would be wrong to look at Bledsoe with a curious eye for going oh-for-eight on third downs against Houston. The first two were no more than little short passes to Jones. The third was third-and-13, and the Cowboys got 10. The next was third-and-19, resulting in a draw. Next was third-and-five with 20 seconds left in the half, and they attempted to run the wide receiver screen. Next he faced third-and-20 and third-and 13, and one of those was a draw.

Wouldn't say Bill has been rubbing offensive shoulders with Mike Martz.

Next. The Cowboys haven't been very good against blitzes so far. I'm guessing you're hoping that's from not scheming opposing defenses. And I'm told, that's got something to do with it, along with a couple of mentals and really not changing plays to counter the blitz.

"We had a couple of mental errors," Parcells said of Saturday night's early failures to blunt those Houston blitzes, "and a couple of (missed) hot reads.

"We'll block the blitz."

And as if this very notion questioned his manhood, Parcells also was quick to point out, "They paid a little bit for what they did, too."

His reference was Jones' 21-yard touchdown run, the 19-yard completion to Glenn and the nine-yard completion to Crayton.

"What you're seeing more and more of in the league is they're blitzing the run-downs, trying to create the run-down blitzes, and I'm going to have to start practicing a little bit more against that than I normally do," Parcells said. "But it's very disruptive in practice to do that because you're going to have a few train wrecks, and you're trying not to have those in practice."

So on one hand, the performance of the Cowboys offense has been disheartening, with the exception of those two 80-yard touchdown drives. On the other hand, because of their indifference, not sure too much stock should be placed into 17 preseason possessions.

And this is just another reason why it's so frustrating to make heads or tails out of what takes place in preseason. Because what you're seeing might not really be what you think you're seeing.

So for the Cowboys' sake, at least on offense, they had better hope we've been blind to the truth.

MICK SHOTS

When it comes to the backup quarterback competition, there is a difference between Parcells not having decided who the guy is and just not saying who the guy is. At this point, nothing concrete has happened to suggest Tony Romo isn't his guy. And while Parcells says don't read anything in to Romo taking all the backup snaps Saturday night and Drew Henson not playing, he said the same thing in 2003 when Chad Hutchinson didn't get any snaps in the second preseason game. Huh. We should have read that loud and clear.
Suddenly the rehabbing Marion Barber is the key to finalizing the running back position. With Barber healthy, there is a good chance Parcells might decide to go with Jones, Barber and either Anthony Thomas or Tyson Thompson. But with Barber still recovering from having that infection removed from the bottom of his foot, sure would be hard to enter

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