Last night I was hanging out at a bar with a buddy of mine, and of course where alcohol is served there is also sports on television. Even when it’s only preseason football (not really sports at all), I’m unable to keep my eyes from wandering to the box with moving pictures. Also, it seems I’m unable to avoid commenting on it.

Last night the Dallas Cowboys were playing… um… someone else. Doesn’t really matter. I did see one play that made me realize something about the team that calls itself “America’s Team”: they are timid, poorly coached, and they are not going to do well this year.

For a little context, lets review why there are preseason games at all. Teams use these four games as super-practices, and to see how their players do in game situations. The final game of the preseason is traditionally played mostly by players on the bubble – based on their performance in that game players are cut from the team while others are retained.

The actual score of the game makes no difference whatsoever. It’s all about how players perform in given situations. As a coach, I think I would actually try to get my players into tough spots to see how they respond. Situations like, say, fourth and goal at the five yard line, with your team behind and the game on the line. Let’s see who can step up.

Or, if you’re the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, you can execute a routine play for a meaningless three points so you lose the game by fewer points. The coach is already practicing tactics designed to make him look less bad in the score sheets after a loss. He’s also telling his people that he’s a wimp and that he has no faith in his team.

It took only one preseason play to show me all I need to know about the Dallas Cowboys. They have a coach who will squander an opportunity to see his guys in a telling situation, just so he doesn’t look as bad in the papers the next day – after a meaningless game. I don’t like their chances this year.


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