Sports Outside the Beltway

Bill Parcells on the Cowboys’ 2006 Season

Dallas Morning News reporter Todd Archer interviewed Cowboys coach Bill Parcells on his thoughts on the coming season and the current business season.

Some highlights:

On the Cowboys’ 2005 performance:

“I think the team was pretty good for a while there and improving. We started to have some problems. Basically with the offensive line, where most of it started to occur. We had [Flozell] Adams out after that. That kind of exposed us a little bit.”

Does the offensive line need fixing?

“We have to improve the performance overall of the offensive line. The offensive line, if you can stay healthy there, look at the Super Bowl teams. Look at Carolina. Carolina didn’t have one injury on the offensive line. Not one game missed. Pittsburgh. Seattle, hardly any games missed. And that’s a position where you aren’t used to losing a lot of guys.”

On getting another receiver with older veterans Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn on the roster?

“You know our receivers were pretty productive – the starters. I think we have a couple of young guys that could be in the three-, four-, five-receiver category. Now can they elevate themselves into the one, two category? I can’t tell you that right now. I was thinking [Patrick] Crayton could do that earlier in the year, but I’m still not sure.”

Will the team go after a top wide receiver?

“I think that would be something we’d consider. That’s not on the horizon now. You’re just asking me questions, and I’m trying to respond. I’m not saying, ‘Yeah, we’re doing this or we’re doing that.’ ”

On Terrell Owens:

“Well, this guy isn’t even free yet, so I wouldn’t know.”

On defensive end Greg Ellis’ future:

“He’s coming back. I would think so. He’s under contract, and we don’t have any plans to trade him. When you’ve got a young team changing defenses with rookies, these vets don’t always understand the pace you’ve got to go.

“I know we’re going to try to do a couple of different things that involve Greg this year.”

On La’Roi Glover’s future:

“Well, this is where I think I don’t have much for you because there’s tremendous uncertainty going on [because of the collective bargaining agreement].”

On potentially going after a free-agent kicker, like Adam :

“If he’s smart, he will [stay in New England]. Because he’d be Bobby Orr and Carl Yasztremski and John Havlicek. That guy’s done a lot. … I’d say we might be in the kicking market.”

On who will call plays this year:

“No, we haven’t talked about that. We’re just trying to integrate the new guys in there.”

Parcells hit on the biggest questionmark: What the financial picture will look like with the collective bargaining agreement and salary cap in flux. Look for the Cowboys to spend like crazy–on short term contracts–if there’s no cap.

I could see signing Terrell Owens to a very team-friendly deal. Since there appears to be a number of teams vying for his services, though, someone is going to have to pony up big money and a longer term deal. The Cowboys should not be that team. Owens is simply too high a risk and to the extent that wide receiver is team need, it is because the best players are all in their 30s. Owens does not solve that problem.

After the disaster last year with the kicking game, the Cowboys should overpay if necessary to land one of the top three kickers, preferably Vinatieri or the Colts’ Mike Vandejagt. With most games coming down to a field goal, reliable kickers are going to start getting more money than they do now. The Cowboys might as well get ahead of that curve.

The lines are the key to a championship team. The Cowboys have a good crop of veteran and young players on the defensive side but several questionmarks on the offensive side. If they can get a proven free agent center and/or tackle, they should be in excellent shape for 2006. The ability to move mediocre starters to backup roles or butterfingered centers to the outside would radically improve the team.

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