Much has been made of the rebuilt nature of this Dallas team. Sixteen Cowboys who suited up Sunday weren't with the club last year. It's the biggest turnover since 1975, when 12 rookies made the team, the famous Dirty Dozen who helped get Dallas into the Super Bowl. Nothing wrong with new blood, particularly on a team that looked as old and tired as Dallas did at the end of the '83 season, but the receiver corps has suffered a marked dropoff.
None of last year's top three is around. Drew Pearson retired; Butch Johnson was traded; Tony Hill separated a shoulder against the Rams and won't be back for a month or more. One replacement, Doug Donley, No. 4 man last year, looks like a major-leaguer. He had a one-handed circus catch in his nine-reception night against the Rams, and another one against the Giants, although his production fell off to three catches.
"I just wish I'd have been in our game plan more," Donley said. "I was open early and a lot in the third quarter. I don't know what the deal was today, if Hogie didn't have enough time or what."
Mike Renfro, who came from Houston in a trade, was acquired for his hands, not his speed. "I might not be the fastest guy in the world," he said when he arrived in Dallas, "but if the ball's there I'll catch it." Against the Giants he caught four and dropped two. "You have to cover yourself when you make a statement like that," Donley said.
The third wideout is Kirk Phillips, who was on injured reserve as a free-agent rookie last year. He replaced Hill in the Rams game, but he wasn't in the lineup Sunday. The group probably will sort itself out when Hill fully recovers, but until then, Hogeboom might be in for some tough times, assuming he's still the quarterback.
Landry gave no indication that Hogeboom would get the hook, but the kid—Hogeboom's 26, White's 32—did look overmatched at times. His one interception, on a deep post pattern to fullback Ron Springs, came on a fine play by Kinard, who was raising all kinds of hell in the secondary, knocking receivers loose from footballs. And Hogeboom did do a terrific job picking up the Giant blitzes—after the game he looked it, too, with a deep gash in his right elbow and a turf burn on the left side of his neck.
"There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be back next week," he said. "Hey, it feels good to be hurt after a game. At least you know you're playing."
At one time Landry turned a deaf ear to critics who said the Cowboys needed a more emotional approach. Preparation, not emotion, is what wins, was his belief. But after the Cowboys flattened out and lost their last three in '83, he told his scouting department to concentrate more on "competitive people" and let the best available athletes go to the Olympics.
"We redid the weighting in our computer," says Gil Brandt, the head of the scouting operation, "and added weight to competitiveness."
So the '84 Cowboys are younger and more competitive—and more prone to mistakes, at least at this stage. In two games, they've turned the ball over nine times. Their offensive line is still unsettled; players are shuttled at left guard and tackle. They're not great right now; they're not terrible. They're 1-1.