IRVING, TX - MAY 01: Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys during rookie mini camp on May 1, 2009 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Dallas Cowboys got the day off on Monday as a reward for a convincing conference victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Arlington Sunday. This is typical NFL protocol, nothing outrageous; but does it send the wrong message to players?
Those who would support the day off, Victory Monday, would likely say that the win was a big one, deserving of such a reward; those against it would likely agree that it was a big win, but it was the first big win. Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas falls into the latter camp, saying today, "Phillips should have brought his players in to workout Monday. Just because the team won Sunday, it doesn't mean things are fine."
Watkins has a valid point; Dallas's win was certainly an accomplishment, but it was far from an exhibition in discipline and clean football. Phillips himself said Monday that there was ample work to be done, an accurate assessment which causes one to wonder why, in the week following the bye, the team didn't at least meet for film.
Dallas committed 8 penalties for 80 yards and had two fumbles, one of which was lost; the other bounced out of bounds, a significant break. The Tony Romo-Roy Williams connection was nearly non-existent, a fact muddied by Miles Austin's second big day in as many starts.
If anything, Sunday served as proof that Dallas is a good, abundantly talented football team. But good doesn't win Super Bowls; nor does pure talent. Dallas's dominance on every side of the ball made these mistakes and miscues on Sunday forgettable for most; Phillips, though, would go a long way to remember them vividly and convey these memories in clear terms to his team.
Then again, Bum's boy has coached 123 more NFL games than I have, making his take slightly more credible than mine (but just a little). Marcus Spears, who recorded a sack on Sunday and sees no problem with Victory Monday, said that such rewards go a long way in motivating a team.
"If we went into practice or if we didn't, there will still be something for somebody to gripe about," said Spears. "I think Wade and the coaching staff are running this thing how they think they should run it. I guess outside opinion, it really doesn't matter."