A Tale of Two Cities
First, before the title confuses you, I know that we play the Seattle Seahawks this weekend.
Most of the chatter and story lines this week will focus on the Seahawks and Cowboys, with much of that being Seattle trying to ‘copy’ Philly in their game plan – Or how losing to Philly dropped us into a 3 way tie for 2nd (or last, depending how you see it), when a win would have put us in the drivers seat in our division-and put the Eagles to rest-and bring us closer to the Giants. The rest of the chatter/blogs will probably have something to do with this weekends halftime Ring of honor inductions (I have one). So, since these areas are covered, something else happened this week that caught my attention.
The San Diego Chargers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night.
What in tarnations does that have to do with the Dallas Cowboys!? You ask? Allow me to explain. You see, the game left the Chargers in a 3 way tie for 1st in the AFC West. Had the Chargers won, they would have been in the drivers seat in their division-put the Chiefs to rest with a sweep-and get a step ahead of the Carson Palmerized Raiders.
Chargers quarterback, Philip Rivers, made a colossal mistake near the end of the game to help put the nail in the Chargers coffin (two weeks in a row). Rivers is considered an Elite QB that is prone to bonehead plays. He seems to have regressed this year in some ways.
I’ll spare you all anymore sound familiars – I’ve got like ten of ‘em. We seem to be linked, Dallas and San Diego, since Parcells took DeMarcus Ware – thank God- with the 11th pick in the 2005 draft, instead of Shawn Merriman, who went to San Diego with the 12th pick. Many thought Dallas was going to pick Merriman (including Merriman himself, who vowed Dallas would regret it..sorry Shawn). The link continued with Wade Phillips leaving his Defensive Coordinator job in San Diego to become our Head Coach. Chargers current head coach, Norv Turner – who was the Cowboys Offensive Coordinator during
our Superbowl years – was considered for the Head Coach gig til Jerry Jones decided that we already had an Offensive minded coach in Jason Garrett – who played for Norv Turner and runs a similar Offense anyway – so we needed to focus on the Defense. Can I also throw in that Troy Aikman considers both Norv and Jason among his closest friends. Some talent exchanging goes on between us. Kevin Burnett (til this year) went to the Chargers via free agency, Olshanski to the Cowboys (til this year). Don’t forget Patrick Crayton. This link continues even this year. In pre-season when that Chargers came and practiced for a week with us before playing us in a pre-season game, Norv tipped Jason about a Receiver that they were going to cut that he should take a look at: Laurent Robinson, who caught on quick because the language of the play book was very similar, is now firmly entrenched as our 3rd WR.
The point is, it seems in many ways that the San Diego Chargers share similar paths and traits as the Dallas Cowboys and the resulting fates that go with them. The Chargers have been a little more successful over the past 5 or 6 years or so, but not by much (we have less playoff success, which is stating the obvious).
Whenever the subject of Elite QB’s comes up, Rivers and Romo are always in the discussion. They have similar stats and success over the years. The differences between them are there too. They have different styles of play for one. In 2004, Philip Rivers, picked 4th by the NY Giants, was swapped with Eli Manning (the miss priss Manning didn’t want to play for San Diego, who drafted him 1st over all, and threw himself on the floor in a fit and held his breath till New York came to the rescue – all planned ) without much consideration of Drew Brees, the Chargers starting QB at the time. It was just a matter of time – 2 years – because Philips was a 1st round QB, but he won the Chargers starting job by default when Brees injured his shoulder – subsequently being shown the door. Ready?, all at once New Orleans! – “THANKS SAN DIEGO!” Tony Romo on the other hand went undrafted a year earlier. Sean Payton (who coaches Brees in New Orleans coincidentally) , our Offensive Coordinator at the time, brought Romo to the Cowboys where he sat while we rode the Carter, Hensen, Testaverde, Bledsoe carousel.
Both Romo and Rivers got their starts in 2006 and never looked back.
Personally, and the reason for this article, I always considered Romo and Rivers – along with Roethlisberger and Eli Manning (and Aaron Rodgers since 2008) - the New Guard of Elite NFL QB’s. The story was always about Tom Brady, Payton Manning, Brett Favre, (I’m missing someone I’m sure) and Kurt Warner to some extent. In 2010, that would change. I predicted my Dallas Cowboys – led by Tony Romo, to go to the Superbowl where they would play the San Diego Chargers – led of course by Philip Rivers. Both teams were poised to get to that next level. Romo and Rivers would complete the changing of the guard started by Eli Manning and Big Ben. We all know how that turned out. Both teams missed the playoffs. Both teams took a giant step backwards just as we all thought they’d take the next step forward.
Two star-crossed teams with all the talent you need to get you there, but they can’t seem to get there. Coaches with great Superbowl pedigree, owners that care about winning, elite Tight-Ends and Quarterbacks that have that IT factor – that can be elite — Still…Nothin!
So there you have it, my Tale of Two Cities, with the most frustrated fan bases in football. Misery loves company, so at least Cowboys Nation is not alone.
It doesn’t make me feel any better.