One nice thing about being 0-3, I suppose there's really no pressure. The playoffs are such a pipe dream and right now just scoring a few TDs in a game is a small victory.
This is going to be a tough one today, obviously. Conservative play calling might as well be a white flag. THe only thing they can do is go for broke, which will at least make the game entertaining.
David from Blogging the Boys answered a few questions about the Cowboys for us. Stop over there and say hello.
1. What's Dallas done to build on last season and become arguably the best team in the NFC?
Wade Phillips has come in and lightened the atmosphere. Bill Parcells re-built the franchise, but after four years and no major success in the post-season, his style started to wear on players, especially some of the younger guys. Phillips' style is exactly the pick-up the players needed. On the field, he brought an attacking defense instead of Parcells' more passive 3-4. On offense, the growth of Tony Romo is a major reason we are playing so well. Romo is still creative and can make a play even when things break down but he's doing it with better ball security this year. He looks very comfortable right now and an improved offensive line is part of the reason. Also, new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who is a descendant of the same coaching tree as Mike Martz, believes in a power-running game and a vertical-passing game. While not as pass-happy as Mike Martz, he does believe in vertical passing and the Cowboys have the weapons to make it work.
2. What are this team's weak spots? If the Rams have a chance, what do they have to exploit?
The secondary has been a concern with the Cowboys for a couple of years and this year it seems to be the one weak area, although over the last two weeks they have been much better. Part of the problem was the absence of Terence Newman, who is one of the most underrated defensive players in the league. When he's healthy, he's a lockdown corner. Roy Williams is below-average in coverage and Anthony Henry will get beat deep occasionally. But over the last two games, Anthony Henry has four INT's, Roy Williams has two and Ken Hamlin has one. Also, while we've been getting pressure on opposing QB's, we haven't been getting enough sacks.
On offense, we probably could run the ball better in the first half of games. We've had some success, but have relied on the passing game a lot until late in games when we've piled up a lot of our ground yards.
3. Does it feel good to finally have the Barber/Jones committee
situation settled, or is it?
Well, it's seems to be settled for the coaches. Julius usually runs the first two series, Marion Barber gets the next and they rotate in and out after that. Barber gets the goal line stuff and will come in for short yardage. So far they've been getting a close to even split in touches.
Now if you talk to the fans and media about Dallas, it's almost universal that Barber is playing better, but whether we should change the rotation is still a debate. There's a school of thought that believes the even split of carries keeps both backs fresh and with Barber's very physical style of running, that benefits him late in games when he can close out a fourth quarter. It may also save him from injury because of that battering style. I say don't do anything different until the offense actually sputters in a game. Then evaluate it, but right now, I'll take the wins.
4. Is DeMarcus Ware a name we should know? Why?
DeMarcus Ware is a name all offenses should know because he and Newman are Dallas' most talented defensive players. Ware is built perfectly for rushing the passer in a 3-4 defense. He's incredibly quick off the edges in the pass rush, but still has enough strength to occasionally bull-rush a tackle. Every week when I watch the game again for film review, teams are doubling, or at least chipping Ware, with TE's and RB's. He's also become very good against the run, so he really doesn't have a hole in his game. After a slow start to the season, he dropped two sacks on Chicago last week. Ware will be a heat-seeking missile after Bulger on Sunday.
5. And what questions for Cowboys fans would be complete without a T.O. question. He's been relatively quiet this season, is that because Romo has become such a star? Can we expect that to change and TO demand his time in the sun? Favorite TO TD celebration?
T.O.'s change in attitude started very early in the offseason, pretty close to the time Parcells retired. Those two managed a very uneasy truce last year and for the most part managed to move things along without too much collateral damage. But it's no secret that was a marriage of convenience on the field and a marriage of inconvenience off the field. But with Wade Phillips arrival, who is an easy guy to like, and Tony Romo's emergence, a guy Owens really likes, T.O. got happy. When Jason Garrett started implementing his offense, they all made it a point to utilize Owens to his maximum potential. They are moving him all around the field, he plays outside or in the slot, and they motioned him out of the backfield last week, all in an effort to get him favorable matchups. So far, it's worked to perfection. Owens is getting a lot of love from inside and outside the organization, so he's happy. But, and I use this but whenever I answer about T.O., anything is possible with the guy, so anything I say today could be moot within weeks, so I drop that disclaimer on my T.O. talk. If you want to know the truth though, the new T.O. is a pod-person who consciousness has been taken over by an alien, but you didn't hear that from me.