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Saturday, August 07, 2004 

Big D

Is Dallas doomed? The tangled demise of Quincy Carter this week leaves the offense up to Vinny Testaverde for now until Drew Henson is ready. I couldn't help flashing back to 1993 when Bill Parcells signed the immortal Scott Secules to play QB until a rookie named Drew Bledsoe was ready. Bledsoe won the job in camp and would have played the whole year if not for an injury in week 5 against Phoenix. Secules threw 2 TDs and 9 INTs in limited playing time.

However, this year's Cowboys are better than that Patriots team (which was 2-14 in 1992 and had to win their last four games just to finish at 5-11 in 1993). Dallas's defense was number 1 in total yards allowed and passing yards allowed, and fourth against the run. It wasn't that productive in terms of turnovers (25 takeaways, T-20th) but it carried an offense that only scored 18.1 points per game into the playoffs.

Parcells, like most defensive-minded coaches, designs his offenses more to hide his weaknesses than to showcase strengths. He tried to limit Carter's role last year because he could be inaccurate and interception-prone. Carter started all 16 games, completed 57.8% of his passes for 17 TDs and 21 INTs, but was shaky in the second half, with 16 INTs in his last 10 games. By comparison, while Testaverde didn't win a lot of games for the Jets, he did complete over 62% of his passes with a good TD/INT ratio (7/2).

My biggest worry is if Dallas's offensive line can save Testaverde from taking a pounding. But even if Testaverde can't throw it enough to take advantage of Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, Jason Witten, and former teammate Richie Anderson, the combination of Eddie George and rookie Julius Jones should be able to generate a decent running game. With a weak schedule (29th, though strength of schedule doesn't mean as much these days) the playoffs are still possible. But Parcells's dreams of another Super Bowl may be fading unless Henson learns quickly.

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On a related note, Miami's offense suffered another blow with David Boston's likely season-ending injury. Maybe they'll give Tim Brown a call...

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