Something is wrong with the Dallas Cowboys. That much is clear.
Getting a grasp on what is wrong and how to fix it is a more difficult task. A problematic wide receiver, a soft head coach and a carefree, spotlight-loving quarterback are just three of the many problems facing the Cowboys this offseason.
Owner Jerry Jones, who is also a problem, will have a tough time fixing these concerns and getting the Cowboys to the playoffs next season.
I'll begin with Terrell Owens, the problematic wide receiver who is more concerned about his stats than the team's record. This is the second offseason in a row where Owens will be featured in a reality TV show. Last year it was "Hard Knocks," a show chronicling the Cowboys training camp.
During this offseason, he has his own reality show on VH1 where viewers can take a look into his life. To say these shows are not a distraction would be naïve. Owens will again go into the season unprepared. This will cause him not to get the ball as much as he wants, which will lead to him complaining and causing trouble in the locker room. The Cowboys have Roy Williams, a dynamic receiver acquired from the abysmal Detroit Lions last season, so maybe they should cut their ties to the selfish Owens.
Wade Phillips is not the right coach for the Cowboys. He is soft and too relaxed to stay in control of all the volatile personalities in the Cowboys locker room. Players are constantly late for meetings, treatments and flights, and Phillips has yet to stiffen the penalties on the players. When he asked Jones for permission to increase the fines, Jones shot him down. Phillips is not the right coach to work for Jones.
The Cowboys need a strict coach who knows how to win, deal with players that have big egos and work with an owner with an even bigger ego. It just so happens the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired a coach that fits this model last month. Former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden has the ability to rein in Owens and make Tony Romo play to his full potential. Gruden has the toughness to take the Cowboys back to the top of the NFC East.
Speaking of Romo, his lackadaisical attitude is another of the Cowboys' problems. Teammates have accused him of trying to force plays in practice, rather than look for the open receiver. Practicing carelessly led to former Cowboy great Troy Aikman criticizing Romo's leadership skills. Quarterbacks absolutely have to be able to control the offense. It sounds like Romo has received a wake-up call though, as he has recently said he will be a more vocal leader and more responsible at practices.
No team gets as much media coverage as the Cowboys, so everyone will be able to watch as they attempt to fix these problems throughout the offseason and into this coming season. It would be an understatement to say that it will be interesting to see how things work out. All eyes will be on Dallas for the 2009 regular season.