Wait, I’m so confused.
Are the Cowboys (as former coach Jimmy Johnson suggests) too loose, or (as former player Will Allen suggests) too tight? It can’t be both. Right?
As the Cowboys stumbled to 8-8 last season Johnson famously criticized owner Jerry Jones for being too laid-back and running Valley Ranch like a “country club.” Critics, especially those who believe it was Johnson – and not Jones – who is responsible for the three Super Bowls in the ‘90s, embraced the statement as a rallying cry for all that’s wrong with America’s Team.
“Too soft!” they echoed. “Jerry’s too lenient and there’s no accountability! Jimmy ran a tighter ship!!”
Fine. Then explain this.
Allen, who started the first two games of the season but then was benched and ultimately cut, has caught on with the Steelers and Tuesday let loose on the Cowboys. In an appearance on satellite radio he said the Cowboys construct a tense environment “That’s no fun for anybody.”
"Too hard!" Allen's yelling, in essense. "Too much pressure to perform."
That, of course, totally contradicts Johnson’s popular view.
“It was a very micro-managed atmosphere,” said Allen, who had the key interception in Pittsburgh’s win over the Lions last Sunday. “Everything was heightened. Everything was very tight. … I think that’s the rift that you get and everybody wonders why Dallas can’t finish. … You just need a cohesion there that allows players and coaches to really execute and do their jobs and it’s not something hanging over their heads, that if they mess up you’re going to get cut or you’re not going to play or not going to do this. That’s not fun for anybody.”
No doubt that Allen is a better player than Jeff Heath, who has replaced injured rookie J.J. Wilcox and has been a weekly embarrassment with hapless non-tackling. But you can’t have it both ways. Allen was cut because of the change in culture fostered by head coach Jason Garrett. Same reason Dez Bryant was yanked off punt returns. Same reason Gavin Escobar – despite being a second-round draft pick – can’t get on the field in front of James Hannah.
Like I’ve said for two years now, the Cowboys’ problem isn’t a culture that’s too soft or too hard to too anything. It’s a lack of players, and a talent base that gets overrated by its irrational fan base each and every season.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.