One of the key problems for the Dallas Cowboys under head coach Wade Phillips has been the willingness to pass the buck, hide behind the statistics and simply refuse to accept blame for anything. Phillips set the tone for his team by being anxious to take credit for every success and unwilling to accept responsibility for any failures.
That seemed to change after the Cowboys dropped to 1-6 when the Jacksonville Jaguars steamrolled them in Arlington last Sunday.
In a post-game interview, Phillips said, “I’m at a loss right now, certainly. If I knew what to do, I would have already done it.”
Granted, it took a meltdown of historic proportions for Phillips to finally admit he might be part of the problem, simply because he is unable to identify the problem and fix it. As a part of that admission, Phillips sought owner/general manager Jerry Jones’ approval to return the team to a training camp-like atmosphere this week to work on fundamentals.
We won’t belabor the point that if training camp were what it should be to begin with, we wouldn’t need a mid-season boot camp. That is a fact too obvious to debate, anyway.
One good sign is what we heard from Jon Kitna today. Thrown into the fray as the default leader of the offense due to Tony Romo’s unfortunate broken collar bone, Kitna responded against the Jaguars by throwing a whopping four interceptions.
Anyone watching the game, however, would only lay the blame for one of those picks at the quarterback’s feet. Three of them were balls that hit his own receiver in the hands, only to be deflected into the air for fortunate defenders to snag. Kitna could easily have pointed out that he did his job, but his receivers let him down.
But he didn’t.
What Kitna said was this: “Everybody wants to keep bringing up the tipped balls. I take ownership of that. I could have thrown the football better in each one of those instances.”
What?! Did I hear that right. A member of the 2010 Dallas Cowboys taking the blame, even if we all know it isn’t his to take?
“That’s the fundamental I have to work on,” Kitna added. “Six inches is a lot in this league. It’s a man’s league. It’s a small window type of league…Trying to make it as easy as possible for receivers, that’s my job.”
Hallelujah! Someone in Arlington gets it. Someone on the Dallas Cowboys roster understands that you cannot improve what you don’t admit needs improvement. You cannot make excuses and progress at the same time.
Will Kitna’s stand-up and man-up routine result in wins? I don’t know. But it’s a start in the right direction.
It gives us hope.