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News » Which comes first? Chemistry or wins?

Which comes first? Chemistry or wins?

Which comes first? Chemistry or wins?
INDIANAPOLIS - There were many reasons the Cowboys collapsed at the end of the 2008 season, but a lot of talk centered on the team's chemistry.

Players said they lacked it, despite the fact the bulk of the team returned after posting a 13-3 record in 2007. At the season-ending news conference, Wade Phillips acknowledged that the '08 season did not have the same "feeling."

But owner and general manager Jerry Jones does not believe chemistry was the only reason for his team's meltdown. As stories emerged late in the season and early this off-season detailing problems - whether between players or between player and coach - Jones' remedy has been simple: win games.

"They're all a figment of the result," Jones said last week at the announcement of the June 6 George Strait concert that will open the Cowboys' $1.1 billion stadium in Arlington. "You didn't hear those kinds of things when we were winning."

Jones is right: Winning cures most of the ills. Problems get pushed to the side when you win. But what comes first? The chemistry or the winning?

At one point in 2008, Philadelphia was 5-5-1, Donovan McNabb had been benched, and Andy Reid's job security was being questioned. But the Eagles rallied and made the playoffs, going all the way to the NFC Championship Game.

"How I define it is, when you care more about the person next to you," Eagles safety Brian Dawkins said. "I think that held true for us as a team. We had built something toward the end of that dadgum season that guys were very cognizant of what they did, because they didn't want to hurt their teammate. I don't want to miss a tackle because I don't want to let the guys down. To a man, everybody felt the same way."

Phillips has called his team a 53-man family. Last spring during organized team activities, he had the players' families come to a cookout in an attempt to build chemistry.

"I don't know where you develop chemistry," new Seattle coach Jim Mora said. "I think it's something that grows. It grows in the off-season work when you're together in the off-season program and through the mini-camps and training camp and then sweating together, hurting together, dog-cussing the coaches together, going back to the locker room and having that common bond of pain and injury."

Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt has had bowling days and movie nights for his players as a way to promote chemistry. Whisenhunt believed part of the reason his team rebounded from a bad end to the regular season was the players' belief in each other.

"We all as coaches work to try to create it," Whisenhunt said. "It's been a very important part of my belief that that's how you're successful in the league. I know I came from an organization [Pittsburgh] where chemistry was a big part of the reason why they were successful."

Free agency and the salary cap have changed team dynamics over the years. Players come and players go. The churning of the roster is much greater today. But the Cowboys teams of the 1960s and '70s created bonds that have lasted well after their playing days.

When the players get together for special events, they act as if they see each other every day. When Bob Hayes was selected for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier in the month, it was as if a part of every member of those teams was selected.

"We all had a special feeling for one another," Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright said. "The sacrifice and the pain, the suffering - whether it was on the field or off the field - it touched the hearts of all of us. To understand that and be a part of that, it makes your heart pound."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 24, 2009

Brodrick Bunkley Name: Brodrick Bunkley
Position: DT
Age: 24
Experience: 3 years
College: Florida State
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