When Darren Woodson said the Dallas Cowboys “are garbage at tackling” he wasn’t singling out his old team, he was discussing the poor state of fundamental tackling in this current NFL. In fact he didn’t even call them out, at least not like he did the Green Bay Packers (After all, he was talking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That’s Wisconsin, which is Cheese head stomping grounds). Woodson proclaimed, “They are Terrible. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen in my life” when talking about how the Green Bay Packers tackle.
Darren Woodson’s comments are causing a stir in CowboyNation nonetheless. The stir is really just the acknowledgement that what he said was absolutely true. Even in the era of ‘the bounty’, the Dallas Cowboys can’t tackle for crap!, revealing one of the two issues that make up the Cowboys dark side. The dark side that keeps us from making a real playoff run. It’s true throughout the NFL, but more so for some teams, the Cowboys being one of them. If Mike Jenkins wants to know why he fell so far down the pecking order in Rob Ryan’s defense, he only needs to listen to what Darren Woodson is saying – “they won’t hit a soul”.
The reason Orlando Scandrick got his contract ahead of Jenkins, in my opinion, is because Scandrick is a better tackler. A more ‘physical’ player. Not a better cover corner – a better tackler. This is one of the elements Rob Ryan needs to employ his defensive scheme. This is also one of the reasons they pursued Brandon Carr instead of some other CB’s on the free agent market, namely, Carr’s physical style of play. The physical style that Darren Woodson insists is missing in today’s NFL.
The style that’s – it shouldn’t be called ‘physical STYLE’ anyway, it should be called ‘physical SUBSTANCE’, because that, IMO, is whats wrong. The Dallas Cowboys and much of the NFL had gone to ‘style’ over ‘substance’ in executing their defenses – been missing in Dallas over the last few years and really since the likes of Darren Woodson and Dat Nguyen. To be fair, Rob Ryan and Jason Garrett are trying to reverse that trend and may succeed with players like Sean Lee and Brandon Carr. Their success in doing that will also depend on limiting the other part of the Cowboys dark side… Mistakes.
The Dallas Cowboys seem to be more mistake prone than your average NFL team. It’s like everything is going well then, all of a sudden, someone in the booth or on the sidelines, strikes up the carnival music (Or is it circus music?). Next thing you know, Phil Costa is hiking the football over Tony Romo’s head, or the receivers are bumping into each other as they figure out where to line up only to have Romo move them again because they lined up wrong anyway, or, on defense, three players in a row dive at the ball carrier a split second too late, one diver after another, so it looks like they were aiming at the air behind the the guy. Worse, if you are Mike Jenkins, you just let the guy run by you like your a matador without a cape. Da-da-dadadada-da-da-da-da… Anyway, you get the idea
The mistakes also seem to have invaded this current core of players like I haven’t witnessed in decades. It’s like a virus. Even Bill Parcells couldn’t shake the disease. So fed up did he become, after one of the more devastating mistakes – Romo’s dropped hold on the winning field goal in a playoff game – that he walked away from the Cowboys and wouldn’t return to the sidelines. That mistake aside, because it’s too obvious to point to, the reason has to be a lack of focus, just has to be. Focus… easy to say, but must be hard to coach. How many games slipped through our hands because of mindless errors? How many from poor tackling?
The Dallas Cowboys have a bright side, we are loaded with talent. Many of our players have been among the best at their position: Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Matt McBriar. With plenty of emerging superstars like Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyrone Smith, DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys also have one of the Red Headed Genius and dispite what you think of his GM work, an owner that will spend every dime he has to improve and promote the Dallas Cowboys.
Also, again regardless of whatever, on the bright side, we are America’s team with a huge national fan base and play in THE premier stadium in this or any other league. Now if we can only do something about the dark side.
One final thought about Darren Woodson’s comments. Isn’t it ironic that, as I said earlier in this story, Woodson points out that they don’t tackle anymore in the NFL, not well anyway. Teams just aren’t as physical anymore. Yet, the NFL is trying to change the rules to make league play LESS physical. Now I know the reason behind the rules changes is to make it look like the NFL is taking the whole concussion thing seriously, and it should. But, perhaps, if they would just demand better, purer tackling instead of the highlight reel dives, they could accomplish even more. – Artie Cappello