Dallas Cowboys: Phil Simms

For modern game, Parcells will take Romo

August, 2, 2013

CANTON, Ohio – Bill Parcells was extremely hard on his quarterbacks when he was a head coach.

He would have mostly one-sided arguments with Phil Simms, Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testaverde over the years when something would go wrong and even when things would go right.

At the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday, Parcells, who will be inducted Saturday, was asked which quarterback he coached that he would want forever and Tony Romo was mentioned.

“Well, what do you want them for?” said Parcells, who coached the Cowboys from 2003-06. “If you want them for fighting it out, just fight it out to death -- Phil Simms. You want them for, OK, just passing the ball, you want to make this 100 percent passing, picturesque and classic, then I have to have Vinny Testaverde. Now if you want to play the modern game and you got to be elusive and get away from then, you give me Tony Romo.”

Parcells took to Romo quickly after signing him as an undrafted rookie, but he didn’t have Romo throw a pass in a regular-season game until 2006. Romo started 10 games in what turned out to be Parcells’ final season, going 6-4 and directing the Cowboys to the playoffs.

Over the years, they have stayed in touch mostly by telephone and Romo, like Jason Witten, can still hear Parcells in the back of his mind when he’s on the field.

“Bill is a big influence on me,” Romo said. “He taught me a lot about the game and the approach. He had some great wisdom in a lot of areas. It wasn’t just to manage the team. It was about people. It was about his ability to know little things you might be thinking or might be going on in your head. I think he’s pretty gifted at that.”

Wednesday Word: Cowboys-Giants

September, 5, 2012
We do "Final Word" on Fridays, when we offer our famous "five nuggets of knowledge" about the division's games that week. I'm going to do that Friday, have no fear, but by then only two of the NFC East's four teams will have yet to play their Week 1 games. So, with the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants set to kick off the NFL season Wednesday night in New Jersey, I thought I'd offer five nuggets of knowledge about tonight's game, with the help of ESPN Stats & Information:

The worth of Witten. Over the past three years, according to Stats & Info's "next level" numbers, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has completed 73.5 percent of his passes to tight end Jason Witten. During that same time period, the only higher percentage among quarterback-tight end combos was the 75.3 percent that Peyton Manning completed to Dallas Clark in Indianapolis. Witten is doubtful for tonight's game with a spleen injury.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Tim Heitman/US PresswireEli Manning has feasted on Cowboys defenses, throwing 31 touchdown passes in 15 career games against Dallas.
Breaking the Boys. Giants quarterback Eli Manning has 31 career touchdown passes in 15 career regular-season games against the Cowboys. That's his highest total against any opponent, and only three quarterbacks in NFL history have thrown more touchdown passes against the Cowboys: Jim Hart (35 in 24 games), Phil Simms (34 in 23) and Sonny Jurgensen (33 in 22).

Wednesday wonder. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there has not been an NFL game played on a Wednesday since Sept. 22, 1948, when the Rams beat the Lions 44-7. The NFL's kickoff game has been held on Thursday nights in recent years, but this year's was moved to Wednesday so as not to conflict with President Barack Obama's acceptance speech Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention. On a personal note, after tonight, I will have covered an NFL game on every day of the week other than Friday. Yes, I was at the Tuesday night game between the Vikings and the Eagles in Philadelphia two years ago.

Beginner's luck? The Cowboys and the Giants have played five times in season openers, and the Cowboys are 5-0 in those games (by a combined score of 194-72, by the way!). The last time they met in a season opener was 2007. The Cowboys won that game 45-35 and went on to finish 13-3 and win the NFC East. But they would lose a home playoff game that season to the 10-6 Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

Keep 'em in coverage. Don't expect the Cowboys to blitz much tonight. Dallas sent five or more pass-rushers on just 34.5 percent of its opponents' pass plays in 2011, and their numbers when they did so ranked near the bottom of the league. While they've upgraded at cornerback with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, that doesn't necessarily mean they should be more aggressive in this game against Manning. The Giants quarterback threw 18 touchdown passes last year when teams sent five or more pass-rushers at him -- the most of any quarterback in the league against the blitz.