Each Monday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Ray Buck and NBC 5's Newy Scruggs go at it in a point-counterpoint on the sporting issues of the day. E-mail Ray Buck at email@example.com or Newy Scruggs at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe your question will appear in an upcoming column. How much of the Cowboys’ 4-3 start should be pinned on Laid-Back Wade?
NEW DAWG: The alarming thing about Wade’s lack of leadership is the media -- the darned media couldn’t even warn him of the “issues” his club has had. After that close win against the lowly Bengals, Phillips went into spin control instead of admitting his team had some things that needed to be tightened up. The same Wade who said the Mexico trip Tony Romo and other players took during the postseason bye week was all good ... just doesn’t seem to get it. You can’t trust your players. They need to be called out on occasion, and sometimes the media can raise legitimate concerns about what they are witnessing on a weekly basis.
BUCK: Well, one thing he isn’t ... Chameleon Wade. What you hire is what you get. Recognizing it now just shows how little you knew about the guy in the first place. So, if the players want him around (and I think most of them do), they need to hold a players-only meeting and get this accountability mess sorted out. Sure, it starts at Wade. But it’s on the players, too. Unfortunately, not everyone responds to a congenial work place the same way. A few players forget to actually work.
What changes can the Cowboys make to assure they don’t go into their bye week with a 4-5 record?
NEW DAWG: You can’t fire Wade because I don’t have a lot of faith in Jason Garrett to take over. The defense has to get better, and I wonder if Wade doesn’t just take over the calls for that unit starting Sunday against Tampa Bay?
BUCK: The “changes” can be only cosmetic, i.e., a “lift” here, a “tuck” there. As Wade himself explained, there isn’t a whole of wiggle room with personnel. The Cowboys desperately need a split here to stop the bleeding ... and Jeff Garcia to Antonio Bryant (Bucs) are less scary than Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress (Giants), although this Dallas D had problems against winless Cincinnati (still the Cowboys’ only “W” in a month of Sundays).
Is Jerry Jones really the “NFL’s No. 1 enabler,” as ESPN Cris Carter claims?
NEW DAWG: Yes.
BUCK: He’s a good Samaritan and a “second-chance” giver when it works ... an enabler when it doesn’t. It’s a 20/20 hindsight thing.
Who has the best chance of beating Tampa Bay Sunday? Brad Johnson? Kyle Boller? Tony Romo with a splint on his passing hand?
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NEW DAWG: It really depends on which game plan Jason Garrett comes up with. I don’t care who the quarterback is on Sunday. The game plan has to fit what the signal-caller can do, and it must not be predictable for the defense to make quick adjustments.
BUCK: Good grief, let’s hope the Cowboys’ head coach-in-waiting understands the concept of game-planning. This Sunday, give me Romo with the pinkie protector.
Who are the locker-room leaders for the Cowboys -- defensively and offensively -- and what needs to be done about it?
NEW DAWG: Right now, I just don’t know who the leaders are. In the past, I would have said tight end Jason Witten or linebacker Bradie James. But when the head coach makes excuses every week, I’m not sure if the locker-room leaders can do anything.
BUCK: That’s the ultimate excuse, Newy: “We can’t be leaders because our head coach doesn’t browbeat in front of the media.” That’s a bunch of boo-hoo. Witten, Romo, James, Greg Ellis, DeMarcus Ware, Keith Davis need to buck up and step up and do it now. This has to be “leadership by committee” at this point.
Does the first BCS poll reflect TCU (No. 14) fairly?
NEW DAWG: The Frogs are in a great spot. All they have to do is keep winning, and they’ll play in a BCS bowl game. Going 11-1 means they would have beaten Utah and won the Mountain West title. The league is darned good this year.
BUCK: I would’ve flip-flopped TCU (14) and Missouri (15) and moved Florida (10) way, way up. But the Horned Frogs are for real, if they keep it real -- and Gary Patterson will make sure of that! TCU being a BCS buster remains a good possibility.
Is this No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns team as good as the one that won a national championship with Vince Young at quarterback?
NEW DAWG: It cannot be. Those Horns beat a two-time defending national champion with two Heisman Trophy winners on it.
BUCK: Good point. But that VY team didn’t have to tiptoe through a regular-season minefield like this one is doing -- OU, Mizzou ... now Okie State, Texas Tech. That gets my attention. I don’t know about you. P.S -- This Colt McCoy juggernaut is only halfway through its four-game stretch of Top 10 opponents.