Time to get some Cowboys' perspective from Grizz at Blogging the Boys in the final preview before the Boys come to Arizona to take on our Arizona Cardinals. Be sure to check BTB for all Cowboys's updates prior to the game.
ROTB - We all know that the Cowboys are as close to the NFL's version of a soap opera as a team can get and for whatever reason, Jerry seems to love the attention whether it be good or bad. All I keep hearing is that somethings 'not right' with TO, Romo isn't on top of his game, and why can't "Mr. Fix-it" fix the defense. Not to mention the pressure on the head coach of 'win a playoff game or your just keeping the seat warm for your OC.' Are there really problems brewing or is the just overblown coverage? Does TO's demeanor have you worried?
BTB - Yes, the Cowboys are a circus. Jerry Jones never shies away from attention but seems instead to court it. As a Cowboys fan, I've just gotten used to it. There have been some problems with the team over the past couple of weeks. Romo has been a little off in his accuracy and coordinator Jason Garrett called a poor game against the Redskins. Nothing going on with T.O. lately really bothers me, that appears to be way overblown by the media. The defense is suffering from failings in the secondary. But, and it's a big but, given all that the team is 4-1. How bad can we really be playing?
ROTB - Since the passing game is the key to the Cardinals offense, I've got to ask about the Boys' banged up secondary. I know you guys stocked the secondary in the offseason, adding three corners via free agency and the draft, but how thin can they stretch the depth? What's the status of Roy Williams, Terrance Newman, Patrick Watkins and Mike Jenkins (I think he got dinged in the Cincy game)? Has the loss of Roy been the upgrade to the secondary that some predicted it would?
BTB - Roy Williams will not play and neither will Terence Newman or Pat Watkins. Rookie Mike Jenkins is healthy and will be counted on to play as our third corner and rookie Orlando Scandrick will come in when we go to the dime. Roy Williams' absence has definitely not upgraded the secondary and his presence is missed as a run defender. So our secondary is really banged-up, and now we have the Pacman Jones circus going on, so it is a real concern. Out of all the things that are wrong with the team, or supposedly wrong, this is the big one. We have inexperienced players all over the place and we haven't been playing solidly in this area.
ROTB - The Cowboys offensive line was considered a major strength heading into the season with three Pro Bowlers (I think that number is correct), but they've had some injury problems as well. What's the current status and how well have the backups performed to this point?
BTB - The only injury we've had on the offensive line is to right guard Kyle Kosier who will miss this game, too. His backup, Cory Procter, has been…umm…adequate? Well, he's definitely the weak link. But overall they've been playing well. Even though our offense hasn't been in total sync in the past few weeks, the line has remained solid. They're big and talented and do a great job protecting Romo and opening holes in the run game. They are a real strength of the team.
ROTB - According to Football Outsiders the Cardinals have struggled against opposing tight ends (24th in the league) and the Cowboys have arguably the best tight end in the NFL, Jason Witten. He's already an accomplished, four time Pro Bowler and he's on pace to have the best season of his career. Is there any way to slow him down? Do opposing teams try to cover him with a cornerback or safety (I'm assuming they're not ignorant enough to use a LB)?
BTB - It's almost impossible to stop both T.O. and Jason Witten in the same game. So far, teams have been concentrating on taking away T.O. and Witten has been eating them up. Some teams have tried to put coverage linebackers on Witten but don't stick with it for long. If they can, they try to keep a safety on him or at least over the top and use a linebacker underneath in a loose double-team. But if you do that, you leave other spots open and it can also really hurt with run defense. So far this year, no one has really shut down Witten. And keep in mind, he's also a very good run blocker.
ROTB - Moving on the actual game itself, what's the key match-up in your mind and how do you see it playing out? Predictions?
BTB - The key matchup is the Cowboys pass rush against the Cardinals offensive line and Kurt Warner. Right now our secondary is just not playing well enough to stick with receivers for long, so the pass rush has to create pressure and force turnovers. If the Cardinals can block the Cowboys pass rush, they stand a very good chance of winning the game. But I'm going to stick with my team and say they win the game in a shootout, 37-31.
Thoughts? How do you see this game playing out? Agree or Disagree with what Grizz had to say?