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I get the distinct impression that if Bill Parcells were single, he would be the guy that would be always getting back with his ex-girlfriend.
In a scene reminiscent of last year, Parcells has traveled back into his QB time tunnel and rang up an old flame out of his past in Drew Bledsoe. Sounds like drunk dialing to me. Almost nine years ago, in Super Bowl XXXI, you may recall that it was Bledsoe that led the then Parcells coached Patriots into New Orleans for a contest against the Packers, a game they lost by a score a 35-21, which at the time extended the NFC’s Super Bowl dominance to 13 consecutive years.
In 2004, it was Vinnie Testaverde that became the apple the of the Tuna’s eye, a then 41-year old QB that enjoyed a breakout season under Parcells in 1998. During his inaugural season with the Jets, Vinny T was throwing his lasers (soon to become lollipops) to Keyshawn Johnson and dumping off to FB Richie Anderson, both members of last years Cowboys, and prior year Parcells’ acquisitions. Terry Glenn, also himself a member of the 1996 Patriots team, was also added to the Cowboys roster through free agency, a move that I always found ironic since it was the Tuna that had referred to Glenn as a ‘she’ in a much publicized comment back in 1996. The comment was in response to the rookie receiver sitting out an exhibition game with an injury.
Last years reunion was anything but the storybook kind. The Cowboys went 6-10 with seven of those losses coming by two touchdowns or more. Even the Giants, the team that put Parcells on the map, dealt America’s team a pair of losses.
Vinny reverted to his usual self, and as predicted in a column on these pages last year, he wore out his welcome as fast as Al Sharpton at a KKK meeting. By the middle of the year, the fans and the media were calling for Parcells to turn the reigns over to Drew Henson, but Parcells, in his well documented tone of arrogance, refused to back down. Vinny played through the catcalls and finished the year with a 76.4 QB rating, enough to get you nowhere in this NFL. Submerged in that rating is the fact that Vinny bolstered that number with 100-plus ratings in four games, two of which were blowout losses against Green Bay and Philadelphia in which both teams gave ground in the second half with the game out of reach, and the season finale against the Giants on a Sunday night ESPN game, a contest that took on the flavor of a meaningless scrimmage more then anything else. Only against the Lions, a 31-21 Cowboy victory, was that 107.5 rating worthy of mention.
In Bledsoe, the Cowboys turn the offense over to a QB with a career 76.7 rating, a number eerily close to that of his predecessor. Given his 13-year career in compiling that number, Cowboy owner Jerry Jones has a solid indication of what he got for his $14 million, with $5 million of that guaranteed.
The problem is that a 76.7 rating is rarely good enough to get you to the big dance unless you happen to be Trent Dilfer or Kerry Collins, who possess ratings of 70.7 and 73.2, respectively. Yes it does happen, but that is the aberration rather than the norm. Bledsoe’s best year was in 1997, the season following Super Bowl XXXI, when he compiled an 87.7 rating. As an indicator, Brett Favre’s career average is the equal to Bledsoe’s best, rang up almost a decade ago. Chad Pennington and Dante Culpepper, incidentally, have each logged QB ratings of 93-plus during their five years in the NFL to further the basis for comparison.
Bledsoe’s mettle and big game capabilities also need to be questioned. Last year, in the final game of the season with the playoffs on the brink, Drew came up like Tempest in a loss to a Steelers team that had already clinched home field advantage throughout. Bledsoe fumbled twice and posted a 53.3 rating. The Bills were denied at home.
The Cowboys are in a better position than they were last year with the signing of Bledsoe. At 33, he is eight years Vinny’s junior and certainly from the standpoint of age, should be in his prime. He also has more talent and will win more than six games. But he is doubtfully the guy that will carry the Cowboys to a title. Owners tend to be more tolerant of underperformers when guaranteed money is involved, as is the case here, so it shall be interesting to see what transpires should Bledsoe falter.
Will they deny Henson an opportunity to play, as they foolishly did last year with the season written off, or will they make a commitment to the future success of the franchise? In 1988, they were wise to do so with Troy Aikman and the dividends paid off in a dynasty. The Cowboys should also take note that George Steinbrenner has lots of spare cash, and Henson, a Yankee draftee, may end up growing impatient riding the pine, especially if Bledsoe sees his contract through for the 3-year duration, though I highly doubt it.
In the end, Bill gets his way, or he takes the highway. So, here’s to ex-girlfriends, Vitalis, Mallow Cups, Prince Spaghetti on Wednesdays, and Buffy and Jody. If Bledsoe lays an egg, how long before the nostalgic Tuna calls Simms, McConkey, and Bavaro for another go-around? As I said last year, stay tuned.