Cowboys’ priority is to stop Peyton Manning, talk later

“I’m sick of hearing about Peyton Manning this and that and that.” Ernie Sims, Dallas Cowboys linebacker, on Wednesday at Valley Ranch.

Ernie? Pleeeze.

By all accounts, Ernie is a pleasant chap, a guy who made a nice name for himself outside of football as an animal rights’ activist.

At one time, Ernie even had a vast personal collection of exotic type wildlife.

Not sure if a bear was in the collection, but Ernie should definitely know this:

Don’t be poking sharp sticks at the bear.

And Sunday at the Big Yard, the big bear is in town.

Look, man, everybody in the NFL is talking about Peyton Manning because even at his advanced age, Peyton and his Denver Broncos’ offense are going through defensive units like a spoon goes through jello.

If Mr. Sims is sick of hearing about Manning, then, well, shut him down. But the wise course of verbal action here would be do the shut down first and then talk about it.

In fairness to Ernie, his full quote, as given to Steve Dennis of Channel 11, after “I’m sick…” went like this:

“We’ve got to go out and do what we’ve got to do. You hear it all the time. Guys walk in the locker room: ‘Peyton threw for four touchdowns, this and that.’ I’m just sick of it.

“Yeah, he’s a great player. Can’t take that away from him. But at the end of the day, we’re all competitors. Me being a competitor, I don’t like that. I’m ready. I’m ready to play football.”

OK, sir. Be ready. Be steady.

The reality is the only reason local media was talking to Ernie Sims last week involved all the wrong reasons. Ernie is a backup who is expected to start against the Broncos.

That start is happening because one of the Cowboys’ top young players, linebacker Bruce Carter, had a puzzling and prolonged meltdown in the Cowboys’ collapse last week in San Diego.

The coaching staff yanked Carter off the field in that game, and he’s expected to be a backup in this game. That’s troubling. Not the benching, but the reason for the benching. Carter has to be a good player for this defense.

Then there was the opposite verbal approach to the Peyton visit, and it came from DeMarcus Ware, a defensive player of note.

Saying he was “closed to the media” last week, Ware added, “all y’all want to do is talk about Peyton Manning.”

There you go, DeMarcus. Wisely say nothing before the game. You never know if the big bear might take it personal.

The timing of the Broncos’ visit is unfortunate. The disgust factor surrounding the Cowboys reached a season high last week because of the loss to the Chargers, or better yet, how that game was lost.

To see Philip Rivers slice and dice the defense (and no, the offense, with 14 points in 60 minutes, is not off the hook) with simple dinks, dunks and dump-offs, and then to know Peyton was next up on the schedule, well .…

Nobody does dinks, dunks, dump-offs, deep balls, medium-range balls, etc., better than this Manning.

Obviously, the Cowboys will be run out of the gym on Sunday if anything resembling the Chargers’ game comes into play. But, in a small optimism window, let it be said that each week in the NFL is a new world.

With absolutely no reason to believe the Cowboys won’t be beaten, and beaten badly, my next step was to turn to a trusted adviser, The Man Who Watches Film.

He was asked to find reasons, right there on his screen, the Cowboys can shock us all against Denver.

Let it be noted The Man Who Watches Film wasn’t exactly eager to tackle the assignment. But after a couple of days of video work, he came up with this “game plan:”

• Control your possessions and score in bunches while stretching out Manning’s possessions to 12-play drives. In other words, the Cowboys have to own the clock and get points, at least 30 of them, out of their possessions.

• Tackle your butt off. Don’t allow the YAC factor to come into play. Yards After Catch. Manning will carve you up underneath, but the real killer comes if receivers break tackles to add ample yardage beyond the catch.

• Make Manning throw outside the numbers. If there’s any left over negative from Peyton’s mangled neck of two seasons ago, it might be a tad less arm strength on the deep-out throws.

Did I mention The Man Who Watches Film wanted it known he was merely presenting, as requested, a scenario for a massive upset. It was not a prediction.

With the big bear in town, even TMWWF was wise enough not to poke with sharp sticks.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

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