Galloway catching on would be big deal

Tuesday, August 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Note: For up to the minute information about the Cowboys, subscribe to the FREE Newsletter, "Inside Valley Ranch".

IRVING – Tight end O.J. Santiago was at Valley Ranch answering questions Monday. Cornerback Phillippi Sparks is on his way here, which presumably answers the question: "Just how good are these rookie cornerbacks?"

But the one off-season move that ultimately will determine which direction from .500 the Cowboys travel in 2000 is the one that came earliest. Jerry Jones made it quickly, decisively.

And expensively.

It's interesting that Joey Galloway was determined to be worthy of two first-round picks as the receiver who could transform the Cowboys offense from a sputtering one to a special one. Galloway is, after all, not unfamiliar with .500 records.

In Galloway's five years in Seattle, the Seahawks went 8-8, 7-9, 8-8, 8-8 and 9-7. Just how different is that from the Cowboys who have gone 6-10, 10-6 and 8-8 the last three years?

Galloway thinks the Cowboys are different enough.

"This is the most talented offense I've been a part of – by far," Galloway said, sitting at his locker after Monday's practice. "It's just a matter of making it happen on Sundays."

It's no surprise that Galloway is not buying into the continued 8-8 forecast for this team. "That's not even a consideration of ours, to go 8-8. I think we have plenty of talent in the right areas to be very successful this year," he said. "We've got some things to prove. New offense. New receivers."

And for the first time in more than a generation, the Cowboys offense includes a receiver who has had a pair of 10-touchdown seasons. That hasn't happened since Bob Hayes.

The '80s and '90s produced 104 10-touchdown receiving seasons. Galloway had two of them – 12 TD catches in 1997, another 10 in 1998. The Cowboys had one (Michael Irvin in 1995).

When the Cowboys acquired Galloway in February, coach Dave Campo spoke enthusiastically of having acquired "a home-run hitter." As a longtime secondary and defensive coach, Campo knows the value of receivers who can deliver the big plays.

Galloway caught 36 touchdown passes his first four NFL seasons, and that was with a mix of Rick Mirer, John Friesz and Warren Moon at quarterback. Only three wide receivers – Cris Carter, Carl Pickens and Antonio Freeman – were more point productive from 1995 through 1998.

A holdout last year made it a wasted season for Galloway, but he feels he's ready to regain his place among the game's elite receivers. But stats, he insists, are not his focus.

"The big thing for me is to be able to bring to this offense whatever is needed," he said. "That might not be scoring 10 or 12 touchdowns. It might be taking a corner and a safety with me to open up a big play for Rocket [Ismail].

"I just want to win. This is my sixth year in the league, and I've been to the playoffs one time. And it was short and quick and not a good situation."

The Seahawks lost a first-round game to Miami, exiting the playoffs about three hours later than the Cowboys. Jones brought Galloway to Dallas to extend defenses and playoff runs.

But first there is the issue of developing a rapport with Troy Aikman, who has never been a big touchdown passer. He has one 20-touchdown season to his credit, partly a function of having Emmitt Smith as a record-setting touchdown machine in the backfield.

Aikman and Galloway had trouble connecting in the preseason, but that won't stop defensive coordinators from paying close attention to the new Cowboys receiver.

"We haven't had a whole lot of time together yet, but the good thing is that neither me nor Troy missed a day of camp," Galloway said. "I think when he had time to get me the ball, it worked out."

And if that pick Dallas sends to Seattle next April isn't among the top 20 of the first round, consider the Galloway trade to have worked out.