It sounds funny to say it after all of the uninformed media accounts of "camp cupcake" surfaced a few years ago. But it appears that Wade Phillips may have gone a little overboard with his training camp schedule this year.
The San Diego preseason game was ugly. The first team offense was out of sync and sloppy. The first team defense got beaten up and down the field. If it weren't for two turnovers by the defense the score could have been one-sided at the end of the first half. Fortunately the Cowboys were able to hang in the game and give the backups and shot to take over down the stretch.
After the game I found myself wondering what the problem was. I know that this team is stacked at nearly every offensive skill position. They are stacked at linebacker and the secondary looks pretty good with Barry Church and Danny McCray emerging as standouts among the rookies. I know they have talent. I realize the roster has some weaknesses but I'll take the Cowboys roster over just about any NFL roster.
Sunday morning I woke up with what I thought was a reasonable excuse for the poor play the team displayed. Overtraining. Sure, it sounds convenient to make excuses and you might tell me I'm fooling myself. But I know without a shadow of a doubt that this team is loaded with talent.
On Monday I was listening to Talkin' Cowboys on DallasCowboys.com and Nate Newton came on the show. Mickey Spagnola and Rob Phillips asked him what he thought was going on. His answer was the same as my thought...overtrained and tired players. Hearing that from a long time NFL player convinced me that my suspicions were correct.
All you have to do is look at what happened with the first team offense. Miles Austin dropped a pass. Roy Williams fell on what would have been an easy completion. Jason Witten dropped a perfect pass. Tony Romo just looked uncomfortable and inaccurate. Each one of those problems individually would just be a bad day for a player. But all of those things happening not just in one game but in one half of one game tells me that something else was going on.
Just think about how your work performance slips when you feel overworked and tired. You lose focus. You make silly mistakes. You overlook things that you would normally spot easily. But if you give yourself a day or two of recuperation typically you can bounce right back and get on track quickly. Overtraining affects you mentally and physically.
I don't know if Wade Phillips is thinking the same thing or not, but he finally gave the players some rest. The players were given Sunday off. No meetings and no practice. Monday was an easy walkthrough practice. And Tuesday morning was another walkthrough practice followed by a regular practice Tuesday afternoon.
We won't really know if the recuperation time will make a difference until we see the Cowboys get back on the field against Houston on Saturday. But I have to believe the time off will help the players feel refreshed and refocused. And maybe the injuries that keep popping up will stop since the player's bodies have a chance to heal.