Monday, October 31, 2011
'There's absolutely no alarm'
By Todd Archer ESPNDallas.com
PHILADELPHIA -- By the time Tony Romo was sacked on fourth-and-goal from the Philadelphia 2 with 6:07 to play in the game, there was little doubt the Cowboys would lose to Philadelphia.
The outcome was all but settled in the first quarter. The remainder of the game was about just how bad the defeat would be.
"I'd be concerned if I felt we weren't going to win a lot more football games," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said following his team's 34-7 defeat to the Eagles on Sunday.
From his luxury suite in the corner of Lincoln Financial Field in the fourth quarter, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones showed no emotion as Romo went down for the fourth time Sunday night. He calmly looked up at a television in the corner to watch a replay.
Soon he would walk to the back of the suite, which was filled with family and team employees, ready for the time to run off the clock.
Inside the Cowboys' locker room after the 27-point loss, Jones was not filled with disgust, disappointment or anger.
He was calm and rational.
"There's no alarm," said Jones, surrounded by cameras, microphones and recorders. "I want to be clear here: There's absolutely no alarm. This can happen in the NFL."
Jones was like Kevin Bacon at the end of "Animal House" with chaos all around him, screaming, "Remain calm! All is well!"
In a 16-game season, Jones is right, of course, even if you don't want to hear it. One loss is one loss, even if it comes against an NFC East rival that could have been all but buried with a defeat Sunday, like Philadelphia could have been.
Instead, the Cowboys are now 3-4, looking up at the Eagles and New York Giants in the division as they close in on the midway point of the season.
"I'd be concerned if I felt we weren't going to win a lot more football games," Jones said. "We will. This is not about re-examining everything we do. This is about being disappointed about not winning this football game. That's how I cannot be concerned."
Three years ago with a playoff spot on the line, the Cowboys saw their season come crashing down on the same field in Philly with a 44-6 debacle. Even a loss that despicable did not spell the end for Wade Phillips, as Jones stood by his coach and saw the Cowboys respond the following season with an 11-5 finish, an NFC East title and a playoff victory.
Maybe that's why Jones can shrug off LeSean McCoy's 185 rushing yards on 30 carries and Philadelphia's 239 rushing yards as just one of those nights. Or how he does not fret about Michael Vick's 279 passing yards on 21-of-28 passing or his two touchdowns or his 129.9 passer rating.
He cares not that his top wide receivers -- Dez Bryant and Miles Austin -- could not average more than 9.3 yards per catch or that his offense could hold the ball for only 17 minutes and 51 seconds.
"This can happen to you in the NFL," Jones said. "You just need to remind yourself of that as opposed to looking and saying, 'Where's the heart?' That's not what we had. We had a deal that went sideways tonight. [Philadelphia] played outstanding, and we got our butts kicked. We know that we've had teams that have had a lot of success that had their butts kicked."
Jones is right, of course, even if you don't want to hear that. This is the NFL. St. Louis can lose to the Cowboys 34-7 one week to remain winless, then beat New Orleans the next week -- seven days after the Saints pasted Indianapolis 62-7.
Jones hoped his team could make a statement with a win in Philadelphia, to show the Cowboys were closer to contender than mediocrity.
Jones, like players often do, takes on the personality of his coach. With Phillips, he would have touted all the good, even in a 27-point loss. With Jason Garrett, he talked about getting back in the batter's box next week against Seattle.
"They played well. They coached well," Jones said of the Eagles. "We did not play well. But that doesn't mean we don't have players and people that can win ballgames. We get to play [the Eagles] again at home. If they play the way they did tonight and we play the way we did, I dread it. If we can play like we can play and get them at home, we can get a win."
The Eagles visit Cowboys Stadium the day before Christmas.
To make that game mean something, the Cowboys will have to treat the next seven games with an urgency that was missing Sunday.
If they don't, the alarms Jones did not hear Sunday will be so loud he will have no choice but to hear them.