If you'll recall, back in Week Five of the NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys engaged in what many. . .including us. . .labeled as the "Desperation Bowl." Both teams were sitting at 1-3 on the season, and the loser of that particular game would surely be cooked as far as hopes for the post-season are concerned. As it turned out, the Vikings got two interceptions from E.J. Henderson and won the ball game 24-21 on the strength of a Ryan Longwell field goal.
The Vikings moved to 2-3 and looked as though they had life again. The Cowboys fell to 1-4 and. . .well, they haven't played a competitive game since. The three games they've played since then have been losses to the tune of 41-35 to the Giants (a game where they allowed 31 unanswered points after getting out to a 20-7 lead and lost quarterback Tony Romo to a broken collarbone), 35-17 to Jacksonville, and last night's 45-7 embarrassment against Green Bay.
I bring this up not to rub it into the face of the Cowboys fans or anything of that nature. . .far from it. They've had a rough season, and I don't intend to dance on their graves or anything like that. But it leads you to wonder exactly what else is going on with Dallas. . .a team, like Minnesota, alleged to be one of the league's most talented. . .that allowed things to get to the point that they are now. The Cowboys obviously didn't want to play for Wade Phillips any more, because they have completely and thoroughly given up on this season. . .and don't get me wrong, I don't think the Vikings are really terribly interested in playing for Brad Childress any more, either. I think their victory yesterday was more of a case of them trying to rally around each other than it was of them trying to save Brad Childress' job.
But at the end of the day, this is the National Football League, where everybody is a professional, and everybody is getting paid to perform. And it speaks a great deal about character when we see something like this happening. . .not of the head coach, mind you, but of the players in the locker room. The Minnesota Vikings have a ton of veteran leadership in that locker room, whether it's Brett Favre or Pat Williams or Steve Hutchinson or E.J. Henderson, who have the character and the guts to stand up and fight for every yard, every point, and every game. Apparently, that's severely lacking in Dallas, and Wade Phillips wound up paying the price for it.
(Yes, Brett Favre, Jenn Sterger, blah blah blah. . .I'm talking strictly about what goes on between the white lines of the football field. And if you don't think the players in the Vikings' locker room respect the hell out of #4 on the field, I advise you to sit down with a video of yesterday's game.)
The Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings have both been given every excuse to mail in the rest of the 2010 season. Whether it's on the field problems or off the field turmoil, both of these teams could have simply packed up the tents and started playing for positioning in the 2010 draft. Yesterday, we saw the paths that both of those teams have chosen.
The Vikings were handed every excuse to quit. . .and they refused.
The Cowboys were handed every excuse to quit. . .and they took them.
So now, the Cowboys' players have apparently gotten what they want, as Jason Garrett will take over for Phillips. Maybe the players down in Jerryland will feel like playing for him. . .or maybe they'll blow up his head coaching career before it even really gets started. (Incidentally, how pissed do you suppose Garrett is that he didn't take the job in Baltimore or Atlanta when they were offered to him?)
Say what you will about Wade Phillips. . .the guy's a pretty damn good defensive mind, but he simply isn't head coaching material in the NFL. He had tough sledding ahead of him in Dallas in any case, and it got even tougher when 53 professionals apparently decided they wanted to work against him rather than with him.
I'm just glad that, no matter how ugly the Minnesota Vikings' season might get, that this team appears ready to play their asses off every week.