Tim Cowlishaw: Parcells playing a game of runaround Coach's use of backs in opener was baffling 09:50 PM CDT on Monday, September 13, 2004 IRVING – There is one explanation for this and one only. It has to be about the Cleveland Browns. Bill Parcells' use of his running backs in Minnesota makes no sense other than to be a source of confusion for Browns head coach Butch Davis and defensive coordinator Dave Campo. Imagine their review of the game tape from Dallas' 35-17 season-opening loss in Minnesota: "Lookie here, Dave, Bill hand-picked Julius Jones as his back of the future. Doesn't suit him up, makes it sound like the rib injury isn't so bad. Why's he doing this? "Well, obviously, Butch, he's trying to show the young man that he's got to practice to play. He's doing the same thing with him as a rookie that he did with Terry Glenn when he called him 'she.' Trying to teach him a lesson. "OK, Dave, Bill's got a power runner in Eddie George who should be more effective in the second half when the Vikings' defense is tired. But Bill benches him at halftime? "Well, obviously, Butch, he was anxious to get ReShard Lee into the game. I mean this guy's a secret weapon and he single-handedly scored the Cowboys' only touchdown in the second half with that 62-yard kick return and then four runs for 31 yards. "But Dave, Bill never put Lee back in. Not until the final minute when the game was over. How do you figure that one? "Well, obviously, Butch, he went to the nickel offense and the kid probably isn't very good at the blitz pick-ups. He had to go to the nickel, obviously, Butch, because the Cowboys were 11 points behind and there were only six minutes left in the third quarter. "These things are obvious to you, Dave? Maybe that explains why you're a former NFL head coach and now you're working for me." If the Cowboys aren't simply out to confuse the Browns, then let the head-scratching continue. Start with Jones. Two Cowboys sources said that Jones does have a significant rib injury – one of the toughest for a running back to handle – and that while perhaps he could suit up, he would last right about up to the time he takes a shot to the ribs. In the NFL, that's Not For Long. So why create a situation that has Cowboys fans questioning Jones' toughness before he gets his first NFL carry? Why not list him as doubtful on the injury report? Maybe it is all about manipulation and building up Jones' character. Glenn caught 90 passes as a rookie after having his manhood questioned by Parcells, so we'll have to wait and see. Then there is George. He gets 25 yards on eight first-half carries – about what you expect from him at this point. Doesn't look bad, doesn't look good. But with no attempts after halftime when the Cowboys got to playing catch-up, we have no idea if George is still able to wear down the opposition late in games with his superior conditioning. We know only that with eight carries in the first half each week, the Cowboys won't be getting their money's worth. The case with Lee is stranger. He was the only running spark the Cowboys had Sunday. Blew right through some nice holes opened by Flo Adams and Larry Allen on the left side. Parcells said Monday that when the Vikings' lead got to 11 after the touchdown that answered Lee's TD, it changed Dallas' game plan. "If we could have got it down to four points, he would have been back in there," Parcells said. "I didn't want to waste a lot of time to close the score down. It just didn't work out." Parcells was more comfortable with the veteran Anderson in his nickel offense although it was Anderson's fumble in the fourth quarter that sealed the Cowboys' fate. Remember that Anderson had a key fumble in the playoff loss to Carolina last season. "Richie's fumbled before, you know," said Parcells, "and he has to do a better job with that." Wait. Richie Anderson is in his 12th NFL season. He's not about to change his stripes now. What about that Cowboys coach who says things like, "You are what you are"? Why doesn't that apply to Anderson? In the end, the Dallas defense wasn't going to stop the Vikings, so Parcells could have alternated Jim Brown with Gale Sayers and it wouldn't have helped. And that gets us back to our original thought. In a game Parcells determined that the Cowboys couldn't win, he deployed his backs in such a bizarre manner that the Browns have no idea what to expect. Unfortunately, after holding Baltimore's 2,000-yard back, Jamal Lewis, to less than 3 yards per carry Sunday, the Browns probably don't care, either.