|After flying to 3-0, Cowboys eyeing 5-0|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 24 September 2007 13:47|
IRVING, Texas (AP) -Not even the great optimist Jerry Jones could have expected a start like this.|
The Dallas Cowboys are 3-0 and boast the most productive offense in the NFL. They have a budding star in Tony Romo and a defense that's getting better every week.
And their next two games are against winless teams who've just lost their offensive stars.
Is there any doubt they're going to be 5-0?
Whoa. That's exactly the kind of over-optimism coach Wade Phillips is worried about following an impressive win over the reigning NFC champions at their place Sunday night. So when he spoke to the team Monday afternoon, he opened with a different kind of math lesson, pointing out that they've only played 19 percent of the season, which means there's 81 percent to go.
``You are not measured on 19 percent,'' he told them. ``You are measured on the whole season.''
Still, Phillips has to like what he's seen so far:
- Dallas has scored 116 points, the last 34 against a Chicago defense widely considered among the best in the league. The way Romo avoided the rush and kept finding receivers legitimized their success against less-than-stellar units the previous two games. The pass-heavy game plan that included Terrell Owens starting several plays lined up in the backfield also showed the creativity of new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
``It's exciting, against that defense, to do what we did,'' Romo said.
- The new defensive scheme Phillips is implementing seems to be coming together, too.
There were questions whether his pressure-heavy plan would work with the players he inherited after they allowed 35 points in the opener. Then Dallas gave up 20 points. Now 10. Plus, the Cowboys had their top cornerback, Terence Newman, for the first time in the last game. Coincidence or not, that game also featured the first sack of the year for should-be sack leader DeMarcus Ware. He got his second, too.
is getting set.''
Then there's the schedule.
St. Louis (0-3) comes to Texas Stadium on Sunday without running back Steven Jackson, followed by Dallas going to Buffalo to play a Bills club that's 0-3 and might be without quarterback J.P. Losman.
Should the Cowboys win both, as expected, Romo, Terrell Owens and Marion Barber will be able to say they've already done something Troy, Michael and Emmitt never did: win their first five games. The Triplets' best start was 4-0 in 1995, the season of Dallas' last Super Bowl title. The Cowboys haven't been 5-0 since 1983.
With such lowly foes coming up, some are already talking up the sixth game, at home against New England. There's a good chance both teams will be unbeaten going into that Oct. 14 matchup.
Beyond that, the Cowboys can look forward to adding Tank Johnson to the defensive line in November. They're also hoping to have deep threat Terry Glenn back later this season.
``I think this team can be a better football team in five or seven weeks, when we get all the guys healthy and Tank joins the club,'' Romo said. ``I think it could be a lot of fun.''
Bill Parcells used to warn against ``eating the cheese,'' his way of saying believing their own hype. Phillips is concerned about it, too, but has reason to believe his 19-81 line will be enough on that subject.
Here's why: ``We got off the plane (in Chicago) and two of the flight attendants came up to me and separately said to me, `What did y'all do with those guys? They studied all the way on the plane.' That's when I knew that they wanted to win the game. They were disciplined enough and it was important enough to our players that they were studying on the plane, getting ready to play.''
The Cowboys still have plenty of things to clean up, starting with penalties. They also have yet to score a touchdown in the first quarter and have only three in the second quarter; their other 11 have come in the second half.
But it all comes back to this only being a small sample of their season. Phillips could even pull from his own past to help enforce the notion they haven't accomplished anything yet.
He's won at least four straight games in four of his previous five years as a head coach. However, he's yet to win a playoff game.
``We felt like we had a good team, we still feel like we have a good team,'' Phillips said. ``But we still have a ways to go.''
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