This Offense Growing Some Hair

little opossum to him. He will not always tell you what he's thinking, and especially what he's planning to do. But just remember, he likes to throw the ball; he likes to score points; but he also likes to protect his defense.

And if you remember back to last year, his aggressive nature on offense did leave his defense exposed - and on the field far too much. Because the more aggressive you are on offense, the more turnovers you're going to have. And if you're not a very good defense, those turnovers become magnified.

Also, on a game by game basis, your offensive philosophy becomes dependent of your opponent's offensive firepower, meaning if you are facing a high-scoring offense then you had better be prepared to score points.

"You know what you can do against a team," said Johnson, meaning offensively and defensively.

So take the Washington game. The Cowboys figured the Redskins weren't capable of scoring many points. So Parcells pulled back offensively, not wanting to chance making a bunch of mistakes to allow the Redskins to possibly score easy touchdowns. His approach was right for 55 minutes.

Now Sunday, when the Cowboys walk into McAfee Coliseum, the approach will be different - more pedal to the metal, and for two reasons. One, the Cowboys defense is giving up 23 points a game. Two, Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Kerry Collins, LaMont Jordan, et al.

Look, the Raiders might come into this game with an 0-3 record, but they do move the ball, and have put up 19 points a game. The Raiders rank eighth in total offense, averaging 343 yards a game, and third in passing, at 281.7 yards a game.

Soooo, Bill Parcells . . . .

"You'll have to come to the game," Parcells said. "Where our approach will be, I'll keep it to myself."

OK, so Parcells isn't saying. That's no surprise. But just use your common sense. Collins has been one of the more effective quarterbacks so far this season, ranked fifth with that 95.9 QB rating. He's already thrown for 873 yards, third most in the NFL. And he's pretty much been a Cowboys killer, no matter if he's played for Carolina, New Orleans or the Giants.

And really, it's not necessary for me to go over the Moss thing, is it? And just off the top of my head, I'm guessing the Cowboys will have problems dealing with Porter's speed.

"With the weapons they have," Bledsoe points out, "we know we're going to have to score points. It would be very strange for this to be a 9-7 game."

Very strange indeed, which means the Cowboys likely will be forced to play out of character, or at least the character Parcells somewhat determined before the season even began. Or, might it be in character if two of these first three games mean anything?

"We're just a bunch of old, slow guys trying to figure it out," Johnson says, tongue planted deep in cheek, when asked of this team's potential to put up some big numbers.

Can they or can't they?

Beware the opossum.

MICK SHOTS

Here is something to watch: The Cowboys have given up touchdowns on the opponent's first offensive drive of the game in two of the first three games, while the Raiders have scored touchdowns on their game-opening drives in two of their first three games. Be there for the kickoff.
You know that whistle we talk about Parcells using in practice - the only whistle on the practice field? Well, it's an veritable antique. Says he's had it since he began coaching pro ball, which goes back to 1979. That's a whole lot of tootin', and he says he's only had to fix it twice.
There is a familiarity factor in this game, but the most significant possibly will be how well Cowboys assistant head coach Sean Payton and Collins know each other. Remember, it was Payton resurrecting Collins career with the Giants. So they probably know there is to know about each

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