one of mine was "Bigger D." Hey, Big D, as in defense is one thing, but the Cowboys' defense this year just has to be better than that. It has to be catalytic, Bill's word, not mine.
Well, against Jacksonville, it was for a quarter. The Cowboys yielded 16 yards on 15 first-quarter plays. And I might even cut the defense some slack, because at halftime, while Jacksonville did score 10 points, the Jags only had 132 yards and Roy Williams had gobbled up an interception.
But that was it. The Cowboys couldn't slam the door on the Jacksonville offense the second half, even if the Jags were set up at the Dallas 40 for what turned out to be the critical third touchdown. But three passes later, the Jaguars gobbled up 33 yards and a touchdown.
That just can't happen. Not if these Dallas Cowboys are to be what we think they can be this season. The defense has to be not only this team's stopper, but also the closer.
But the defense wasn't, and what worries me most is how the Jaguars moved the ball throwing. That means there wasn't enough pressure up front, and here we thought that front seven would be a mess to handle this season. That means the secondary was getting beat, and this had nothing to do with safeties. The Jacksonville wideouts were beating the likes of Newman, Henry and Aaron Glenn in man, and obviously the Cowboys were counting on their man coverage since they decided to play a lot of single safety in the game so they could insert a third corner.
In fact, if not for Josh Scobee's missed 49-yard field goal, the Jags would have scored on three of four possessions there in the second half.
The run defense, problematic last year after Al Singleton was lost halfway through the season with a shoulder injury, was solid. Gave up just 78 yards. Just 2.4 a carry. Had four tackles for losses. Bravo.
But, the Cowboys gave up 237 yards passing, and Jimmy Smith no longer plays for Jacksonville. Hey, I know those Jaguars receivers are big, but they sure aren't big on experience. This can't happen.
"Their confidence definitely built up, especially in the second half," Spears said. "You open that door, and it's hard . . . smelling that blood."
So maybe this is a lesson learned. The Cowboys need to sharpen their olfactory senses. They should have been smelling blood in the second quarter. They had slammed the door on the Jaguars offense early, to the point there were 67,000 people ready to turn on the quarterback, the running back, the offense and the offensive coordinator.
But the Cowboys didn't close, and the offense didn't outscore what the defense allowed, and now they sit here, 0-1 facing a somewhat critical game in Week 2, even if there are 14 left after that.
"As coach said after the game," Spears recalled, "it's a long season."
That's a good thing, and so far, for all the right reasons.
But I'm telling ya, don't let the quarterback rhubarb run interference for Sunday's real worry.
Remember what T.O. taught us.