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Old 09-15-2003, 07:07 PM   #1
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Default Is the honeymoon over at Valley Ranch?

Posted on Mon, Sep. 15, 2003
Is the honeymoon over at Valley Ranch?
By Randy Galloway
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

As the Cowboys prepared for their prime-time moment on Monday Night Football, the team had some loose ends develop over the long week, which might or might not mean anything.

Start with the owner, Mr. Jones.

He was a proud old alum and former player Saturday. Jerry's beloved Razorbacks went into Austin and chain sawed the Longhorns in a massive upset.

Jones took a plane ride down to Austin on Friday afternoon, and gave an inspirational pep talk to the Hoggies at the team dinner that evening. Who sez nobody ever listens to Jerry when it comes to football?

At the same time, however, Cowboys staffers were doing damage control Friday, disavowing there was any shred of truth to a report in a Philadelphia newspaper.

Quoting an "executive" source at Valley Ranch, the paper reported a brief but testy locker-room exchange between Jones and Bill Parcells immediately after the season-opening loss to the Falcons.

Jones, of course, had been locked out of the dressing room in what appeared to be nothing more than a case of him arriving late. The door is always locked once the head coach begins his postgame comments to the team.

Nothing has been uncovered locally to verify Jones and Parcells had "words," but it's a very touchy subject at Valley Ranch. There is still the belief from many around the league, and around North Texas, that Parcells and Jones are on a personality collision course. The Cowboys have enough problems without that becoming a reality.

The strange part, however, is that Jones being locked out of the locker room was considered nothing more than an accident.

But instead of laughing it off publicly at some point last week, there has been no comment on it from Jerry or Bill.

This silence had caused suspicion. Then came the story out of Philly, suggesting there was opening-game ill will already between owner and head coach, bringing heavy denial from Cow voices.

Regardless, it's a loose end. And if it's not a big deal, and definitely not true, then Jones should just say so.

When Parcells said last week he was disappointed in some players' performance against Atlanta, the immediate assumption centered on the usual suspects: the quarterback, the running back or the defensive ends.

But apparently, that was not the case. Parcells actually was more displeased with his defensive leaders, meaning Darren Woodson, Roy Williams and La'Roi Glover, plus the highly paid Larry Allen in the offensive line.

While Parcells has been a strange mix of kinder-gentler/philosopher in his comments and demeanor since the Atlanta game, he is still a stickler for his best players playing their best when the game is on the line. And none of the above did against the Falcons.

Big Bill will "call out" the big names. He's also the first head coach here in a decade who has no concerns about the big names running privately to the owner with a complaint.

The "homo" man, Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey, was verbally gagged in the week leading up to the Cowboys' visit tonight. But, obviously, Shockey did take note of the damage the Falcons' tight ends did in the passing game. That was an indictment of the Cow linebackers and safeties. Shockey had already declared, "Parcells will pay." Based on last week, he's a big tight end target who will be eager to walk his talk.

The Cowboys had 400-plus yards of offense against Atlanta, and, despite only two touchdowns and 13 points, that was hailed by some as progress. On Sunday, the Redskins went into Atlanta, fell behind 17-0, and then blew away the same Falcons defense. Quarterback Patrick Ramsey threw for 356 yards and two TDs. The Skins added 125 yards rushing in the 33-31 win. So hold the sunshine about the Cowboys having piled up some yards in Game 1.

Ramsey? Had a shaky rookie season a year ago, but the early returns this season on the Tulane product are excellent. As the Cowboys continue to have no clue about the quarterback of the future, a divisional rival appears to have found one in Ramsey. The Cows are dead until Parcells hits on a QB. It makes no sense for him being willing to waste this season in that search.

The Giants will bring a heavy blitz tonight, which is supposed to play into Quincy Carter's strength: avoiding the rush. But, as Babe Laufenberg has repeatedly pointed out, that is flawed logic. Most of Carter's positive plays the past three seasons have come within the pocket. Almost all his negative plays have come when he's working outside the pocket. That trend continued against Atlanta.

Monday night games at the Meadowlands, with a 9 p.m. start there -- meaning three hours of parking lot boozing -- are added fuel for what is already a noisy crowd. But the Giants' fans, for MNF, are my choice as the loudest in the league. Yes, louder than the old Vet bunch in Philly.

Prediction: The Cows' first win of the season comes at the Meadowlands. In two weeks. Against the Jets.
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