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Maybe this explains it: Get well and all's well


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Buck Harvey: No pain? Parcells' great gift

San Antonio Express-News Web Posted : 10/21/2003 12:00 AM

Applaud Bill Parcells. Marvel at the 5-1 record. Stare in wonder at the suddenly quick-minded Quincy.

But acknowledge that some details are less than glorious. Luck has been a factor, and another gift comes Sunday for the Cowboys.

On the road against the defending champs?

Get ready to applaud Parcells some more.

He deserves a hand. He's taken advantage of seemingly everything thus far, and it's been a study in Hall of Fame coaching. He's added discipline and order, as well as a better TV image.

Parcells looking Lombardi-ish on the sideline impresses more than, say, Dave Campo looking as if he's about to slap his forehead in astonishment.

But a year ago Campo came close, and he did so without Ryan Young, Terry Glenn, Toby Gowin, Richie Anderson and Terence Newman. In this same stretch of the season, Campo's Cowboys lost four of five games by the combined total of only 12 points.

That suggests Campo didn't know how to win, as does his overall record in Dallas. Six games into his Cowboys career, Parcells has already equaled the best Campo could ever do.

As for Parcells' personnel additions: That's a critical part of coaching, too, and Parcells has always had an eye for his kind of player.

But Campo's near-wins also suggest there was already some talent in Dallas, along with bad luck. Larry Allen started only five games last season, and the rest of the offensive line shuttled in and out with injuries.

Today the Cowboys are mostly healthy, and Parcells gets applause for this, too. An example came last week in Detroit. Then a backup tight end, Jason Witten, played after missing just two games after surgery to repair a broken jaw.

Would he have done the same with Campo around?

But that's just it. Parcells has lost only a few backups, and coaching doesn't have much to do with that. Parcells can be demanding all he wants, but not even he can heal a broken leg just by glaring at it.

He also can't alter the NFL's most fundamental canon. It's a league of injuries, and it's a league where the injured don't win.

The first few weeks of the season presented the obvious. The Cowboys met Atlanta without Michael Vick and the Jets without Chad Pennington. In between were the Giants, stuck with three rookies in the offensive line.

Donovan McNabb came to Texas Stadium with a sore right hand, and last weekend the Lions hosted the Cowboys without their star rookie receiver, Charles Rogers.

No wonder Parcells shrugged Monday at his press conference. "Yeah," he said, "there's probably a little luck involved."

There's more than a little coming his way this weekend, too. Then Parcells will do what he agreed to do 18 months ago. He will finally coach a game in Tampa.

Just two months ago nearly everyone would have predicted a Cowboys loss. But the Bucs are coming off their worst loss since Jon Gruden has been in Florida.

These aren't last season's champs anymore. They lost their third game in December a year ago, and this season they lost it on Oct. 19.

There are football factors, certainly, but injuries mean more. Mike Alstott and Rickey Dudley are gone for the year, after all.

Joe Jurevicius is out. Simeon Rice is limping. Keyshawn Johnson is slowed by a thigh bruise. Tight end Ken Dilger, who could barely walk last week, took a painkilling shot. The offensive line is scrambled. And the Tampa secondary is so decimated that the Bucs could open against Dallas with only one starter in his proper place.

That's why they gave up 458 yards to San Francisco on Sunday, the most any Bucs opponent has had in 12 seasons.

The league's No. 1 defense will be in Tampa on Sunday. But did anyone think it would belong to the Cowboys?

"Yeah, it's a concern," Gruden said this week when asked about the injuries. "You're only allowed to suit up so many players, and it's inhibited our ability to practice the last few weeks with the number of people that can't go."

A year ago Gruden didn't have this problem. Then everyone celebrated his coaching and his championship.


Applaud Parcells.

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