Thursday, March 05, 2009

Addition by subtraction

I won't say that Jerry Jones has learned his lesson - he gets too easily distracted by shiny baubles that have no real substance, but he has certainly done more to improve his team by ridding it of problem children than most teams have done this off-season by signing play makers.

In what has been the worst kept secret of the NFL's hot stove season, the Cowboys have finally parted ways with resident league narcissist Terrell "It's All About Me" Owens, making the Cowboys the third contending team to figure out that Owens, despite an enormous amount of talent, creates more problems than he solves.

Owens is quick to point out that he's not former teammate Pacman Jones, also eliminated in the recent purge, and has not had any off the field incidents. This is true.

However, he's ended up at odds with every coach, and quarterback he's every played with. He's divided every locker room. He has been a difference maker, just not in the way teams have hoped.

Everywhere he has played he has left a smoldering crater of a team.

He was not the difference that got the Eagles over the hump in the early Oughts - people seem to forget he wasn't even available for the playoffs that year. Overall, teams in the post season with Owens are 4-7 and in only three of those eleven games has he exceeded 73 yards in receptions. In the remaining eight playoff games he has averaged 44 yards per game.

For all his talent and his demand to get the ball, Owens was first in the NFC and third overall in the NFL with 10 dropped passes one season removed from leading the league in consecutive seasons with 25 in 2007 and 17 in 2006. For a three year stretch he's averaged 13 drops each season.

That doesn't even take into account the fact that Owens is also coming off a season in which he failed to break 40 yards receiving in eight games and had another two in which he didn't hit 70. The three games in which he approached or exceeded 100 - against Seattle, San Francisco and he had a meaningless 103 yards in the 44-6 embarrassment of a season finale against Philly. No one is confusing the defensive backfields in Seattle and San Fran with anything resembling quality.

Getting rid of the ball demanding distraction, yeah, this team just got better.

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