Throughout this week, I have had occasion to speak with more than a few Cowboys "fans" about Monday night's contest. (Quotes used because, really, followers of the team are better described as Cowchip Delusional Parcells Worshippers.) By and large, the conversations have been eerily similar, usually dissolving into finger-pointing and pure conjecture on the future for these two 1-1 teams. Deion Sanders' name somehow keeps coming up.
Nonetheless, I believe their adamant claims can be briefed as such: (1) the loss of Brunell to injury means more to Washington than Julius Jones' loss to the Cowboys, (2) Dallas wins on Monday, and (3) Parcells is a better coach than Gibbs.
While I loathe agreeing with anything Dallas fans say about Washington, I will concede that Mark "My Hammy!" Brunell's absence will mean more to the Redskins than "Orange" Julius Jones' to the Cowchips. Given that Parcells and Co. had the foresight to pick up Old Man Eddie George and ReShard "Shards o' Glass" Lee, they aren't off so bad. Let's be clear, though: George is at best a 3rd down short yardage back, lacking the speed to break 40+ yard runs. How much punishment is he really going to be able to take? Lee will have to carry the load against a Washington defense that hasn't budged much. (Not that Tiki Barber's much of a threat.) How many Dallas fans can express high confidence in this kid?
On the other hand, Brunell's injury leaves the ball in the questionably capable hands of Patrick Ramsey. Sir Ramsey has taken the bulk of practice reps this week and Coach Gibbs believes enough in him that he named Patrick the starter by Wednesday. Quite a vote of confidence. But Ramsey sure looked uncomfortable against the Giants, giving up a sack on his first passing play. Eww. The wide receivers didn't help, but some two of Ramsey's groan-inducing interceptions weren't even near Redskins wideouts.
I expect, then, that Chief Gibbs will call a much more conservative offensive package on Monday night; likely running Portis more than 30 times and testing the Cowchip linebackers. Will it work? On to contentous point #2...
Of course it will work. Did Dallas fans even watch Sunday's game against Cleveland? Your offense, apart from moderate running success and one happy flea-flicker, wasn't exactly the St. Louis Rams. Testaverde may be near the tops in passing yardage, but how many touchdowns has he thrown for? Two. Interceptions? Three. I say yardage, shmardage. I'll take the points, thank you.
As to who is a "better" coach, well, I'll let the numbers do the talkin': Parcells 159-113-1. Gibbs 124-60. Against Dallas, Gibbs is 12/24. Both are great coaches, motivators and leaders. Granted. But there's an intangible Cowboy fans neglect: Joe Gibbs is a really nice guy. Never chased dollars, screwing one team for another, never interviewed with one squad while preparing another for a Super Bowl. Gibbs is dedicated and committed without question. Bill Belichick has a few things to say about Parcells' integrity.
One other note: with Arrington out (as of Friday's news reports), this game'll be much closer than it should be. As I mentioned in the Review, this is a strangely critical game (much like Ravens v. Bengals on Sunday) and the Skins honestly can't afford to lose.
I have a two Cherry Cokes, one Diet Peach Snapple, one Classic Coke, and a week's worth of pro-Dallas propaganda riding on this game. I can't afford the loss either...!