Emmitt Smith is interviewed at the Media Center at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida on January 31, 2007. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Emmitt Smith has never been known for his pragmatic approach to analyzing football (at least not games in which he wasn't participating) or his mastery of English grammar ("The Packers don't has a running game") or his acting chops (as seen in the Just For Men ads, which would make Don Draper turn in his grave, assuming that, were he a real person, he would be dead by now).
But one can't deny that, with a career like the one Smith had, he must know a thing or two about football. At least, he should, which makes what he said Tuesday in an appearance on ESPN radio vaguely alarming for Dallas fans, and, considering his past stance on post-Bush Cowboys issues, wholly unsurprising.
As reported on the DMN Cowboys Blog, Smith went off on his former team,predicting that they would win seven games this season.
"Realistically, I think that the Cowboys can win seven games," Smith said. "I mean, when I start hearing things are going to change, I keep asking myself as a player, how much are they going to change? Are you going to be a hard-nosed coach now since things are going to change? Are you going to be more focused than you were last year? Those kind of things, I'm like, 'C'mon. This is not a game where you can just turn it on and turn it off.'"
Fair point. But it's not as though Wade has become simply tougher in a nominal sense; to his credit, he ran a camp that was described by veterans as the toughest they've been through. He's also been more fiery, an attribute that comes from his awareness of the fact that if he doesn't get it done this year, he'll almost certainly be gone. How much all this will help the team's record, I'm not sure. But it is possible to be more focused from one year to the next, particularly when this effort is spurred on by the kind of embarrassment Dallas suffered last year in Philly.
Also fairly predictable was Smith's taking shots at Roy Williams, something he's done in the past much to Williams' publicized dismay.
"I do not see him as a No. 1," Smith said. "I never have saw him as a No. 1. Never have. When I say No. 1, I mean your No. 1 go-to guy. He's not your No. 1 go-to guy."
This sentiment has been expressed in Dallas roughly 6 million times since T.O. said goodbye. But as far as being the "go-to-guy," that spot's taken by Jason Witten who, regardless of beliefs otherwise, has been Romo's favorite target since he came out for the second half against the Giants in 2006.
"They can be a solid offense," Smith said, presumably disregarding the presumably fatal lack of a "No. 1 go-to-guy"."All Wade Phillips needs to do is just get his defense in gear and let them boys pin their ears back and go after the quarterback for four down, if it's necessary to go four downs."
As Tim MacMahon points out, of all the concerns Dallas has, getting to the quarterback isn't one of them; the team led the league in sacks last season and haven't really lost much (except for maybe a little depth) throughout the unit since.
Maybe Emmitt is right. But if the thought of a nine-loss season alarms you, consider Smith's reputation as an analyst. It's not as gleaming as, say, his reputation as a ballroom dancer--or, for that matter, as a running back.