Each Tuesday, 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.
NEW DAWG: My first thought is to say no. But, Ray, we really have to give Brad Johnson a chance. Maybe the Cowboys need to streamline things and get back to running the ball. The Cowboys threw the ball too much and Jason Garrett got too cute overall in the last three games. Time to get back to simple football on offense and let Johnson convert on third down.
BUCK: I say BIONY —- Believe It Or Not, Yes. This could be another Kerry Collins replacing Vince Young (well, the Cowboys can only hope.) The Titans are 5-0 with their greybeard at quarterback. I also think Romo can use this time — two or three games — to stand back and observe. That could help him when he returns.
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Will the Cowboys be fortunate just to make the playoffs now if Romo misses up to a month with a broken pinkie?
NEW DAWG: I would say yes — fortunate — because unless we see the players step up and finally start playing up to expectations, this team could spend December fighting to make the wild card. The old saying goes, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” That fits the Cowboys right now.
BUCK: I still think the Cowboys will make the playoffs, but the key is Jason Garrett. And, oh yeah ... Ol’ “Checkdown” Johnson needs the offensive line to be a whole lot better than it was for “Knocked Down” Romo on Sunday.
Should Romo have taken himself out of the game after the first play of overtime at Arizona, if he knew he was injured?
NEW DAWG: No. Many times guys play on adrenaline and the pain becomes worse once they sit down after a series. Guys are expected to play hurt in this league.
BUCK: I agree. There’s no way that was going to happen — not at a level where the parents no longer stand by to coddle the players.
Were our expectations of the 2008 Cowboys simply too high?
NEW DAWG: No. No. And heck no. They have secured prime talent and paid them big money. Thirteen Pro Bowlers returned from a club that went 13-3. The expectations should have been high.
BUCK: Kudos to Greg Ellis, who recognizes the fact that there has been an overall failure to “maximize what we have” week in and week out. That sure sounds like the blame is on them, not us.
Who’s your Heisman Trophy frontrunner now?
NEW DAWG: At the halfway point, I’d go with Max Hall, BYU’s quarterback.
BUCK: Give me Colt McCoy (Texas) or Chase Daniel (Mizzou) ... in fact, give me Saturday’s Texas-Mizzou matchup. I’ll get back to you on this one, Newy, after that game.
Which was the bigger surprise: Texas jumping all the way to No. 1 with a win over Oklahoma or Missouri falling all the way the No. 11 with a loss to Oklahoma State?
NEW DAWG: Texas, no doubt. I thought Alabama would move up from No. 2, but I have no problem with it. Texas has games against Mizzou, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to go.
BUCK: I was mildly surprised by where both ended up — especially Mizzou’s free fall. Now I’m really confused what the voters think of the Big 12.
Retaliatory pitches in baseball or squib kicks in football? Which one can you more do without?
NEW DAWG: I like squib kicks. They can change games.
BUCK: Yeah ... sure ... too often to the receiving team’s advantage. Come on, Dawg, squib kicks went out with the Pet Rock. No longer do return teams load up the middle of the wedge with a bunch of behemoths with bad hands — which is why the squib kick was invented in the first place. Retaliatory, or “message” pitches are nearly as lame because the only message is: DON’T BOTHER. Both teams get warned now — even when the “message” pitch doesn’t hit the batter. Look where this got the Dodgers, who are now down 3-1 and face NLCS elimination against the Phillies.