Five Questions with the enemy: Dallas Cowboys

You know the drill, some questions answered for the game this weekend, this time complements of Blogging the Boys contributor Brandon W. My answers to their questions will be up some time soon, I'd imagine. Enjoy:

Hogs Haven: What if anything is Tony Romo not going to be able to do under center that he would otherwise be fine at supposing he wasn't recovering from an injury? Anything exploitable?

Blogging The Boys: Apparently Tony Romo is able to do everything he could do before he got hurt and by all accounts is throwing the ball pretty well. The questions surrounding Romo's return are not really on how the injury will affect him, but how the time away from the game will. They say the great quarterbacks are able to step in after an injury and pick up right where they left off, so long as that injury doesn't linger. There's no doubt that having Romo back will infuse this team with some much needed hope and energy and it looks as though Romo has found that energetic spark he's had in the past that was missing earlier in the season. It's amazing what a few games on the sideline will do for your outlook towards the game. As far anything being exploitable, I would say it's going to be the same old Romo out there; a guy who like to take chances and will sometimes force the ball into tight coverage. However, a reinvigorated Romo could be very dangerous to the Redskins and other teams moving forward. The key for this matchup is for the Redskins to apply as much pressure as they can on Romo, because he might be a bit skittish of having that hand knocked into. The Cowboys' offensive line hasn't played up to par this year and Romo was getting hit more than ever when he got hurt against Arizona. Put pressure on him and force him to get rid of the ball quickly and the Redkskins could do a good job of disrupting the offenses timing.

HH: I'm of the opinion that QB pressure plays at least as big a role in generating turnovers as does good secondary play. You guys have a lot of sacks, apparently have gotten some pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but virtually no interceptions. Any reason for that?

BTB:
There's a couple of factors that can explain the lack of turnovers the defense has generated. First you have to look at which quarterbacks the Cowboys have faced. Aaron Rodgers, Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia, Kurt Warner and Jason Campbell are all averaging well under an interception a game and have done a great job of finding open receivers when pressured. The Cowboys were able to put pressure on these quarterbacks but for some reason weren't able to force bad decisions. A great example of this would be the game against Tampa Bay when the Cowboys repeatedly had Jeff Garcia on the run, yet was constantly throwing the ball out of everyone's reach, something he is doing exceptionally well this season.

Another reason could be the scheme the Cowboys are running with their secondary. The Cowboys have been playing a zone, soft coverage scheme all year in an effort to minimize the big plays against them and keep the receivers in front of them. This prevents the defenders from playing aggressively on the ball and relies on the pass rush to force bad throws. If the quarterback is able to throw the ball accurately, the defenders haven't been in position to make plays on the ball, thus negating the chances for an interception to occur.

The last few games the Cowboys defense had become much stronger in the pass rush and were able to force three turnovers against the Giants, including an interception return for a touchdown by rookie corner Mike Jenkins. The return of outside linebacker Anthony Spencer will allow the Cowboys more options with the blitz and should provide more opportunities for forcing the quarterback into bad decisions. Now we just need the secondary to capitalize.

HH: What is going on with Roy Williams right now? He hasn't been too loud in Dallas just yet, and wasn't playing too loud in Detroit prior to the trade. Is it a lack of chemistry? Can Brad Johnson be blamed?

BTB:
First of all I don't see anyone playing too "loud" up in Detroit right now, so I don't see how his lack of production there this season is anything to be worried about.

Roy Williams arrival to the Cowboys came with some very bad timing; as he was walking onto the practice field Tony Romo was walking off for the next month. In his three games with the Cowboys, not only has he failed to produce but the entire offense has been anemic. We got to see flashes of Roy Williams can bring to the table, including a clutch touchdown grab against Tampa Bay and an absolutely incredible one handed catch on the sideline against the Giants. Unfortunately that's about all the action that has gone his way. See the funny thing about receivers is that for them to be effective they actually have to have the ball thrown in their direction, something that wasn't happening at all with Brad Johnson at quarterback.

Williams hasn't made any excuses or mentioned a lack of knowledge of the playbook, so now it's just a matter of getting the ball in his hands. That task now falls into the lap of Tony Romo and Jason Garrett. Romo was able to build on field chemistry with T.O. almost immediately after he became a starter and I don't see a problem with that now with him and Williams. If the Redskins decide they want to focus on taking Owens out of the game, then Romo needs to realize how talented a receiver there is on the opposite side just willing to go up and get the ball.

HH: Terrell Owens called out DeAngelo Hall this week. What do you see from T.O. in this upcoming game? What does he, or the coaching staff, need to do differently to see normal production from Owens?

BTB:
I almost feel bad for Owens. He was having a rough go of it earlier in the year and was having difficulty beating the press off the line of scrimmage. When he was getting open, he and Romo were misfiring a bit for whatever reason. Then he started to beat the coverage and find himself open countless times, yet Brad Johnson repeatedly was unable to get him the ball which is the most frustrating thing to happen to a star receiver. They want it thrown to them, but when it is they also need it catchable.  That has been happening the past few months. The responsibility also lies on Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's shoulders. Last year the Cowboys were able to find mismatches for Owens across the board, putting him in different spots on the field nearly every play, which resulted in Owens having a free release against linebackers and safeties. Garrett needs to find a way to get back to these mismatches for Owens to be effective. Make no mistake about it, Owens is the Cowboys' most dangerous weapon and for them to have success they must find a way to get him the ball. The return of Romo and the addition of Roy Williams should (in theory) take some of the load off Owens and free him to do what he does best.

I also want to say how impressed I have been by Owens' attitude the past month. If ever there was a prime opportunity for a T.O. blowup, this was it. The team was losing, the quarterbacks were inept and even better the Cowboys traded for another top receiver and signed him to a long term deal. Yet Owens has kept his cool and while it's obvious his isn't happy with how things have gone he also hasn't gone crazy on the team or coaches.Owens realizes this is his last chance to win it all, and I am sure he doesn't want to blow it. Completely ignoring Ed Werder helps.

HH: Please tell me everything you know about Felix Jones and his availability for the upcoming game. I have no interest in seeing him on the field.

BTB: When  on the field Felix the Cat has been nothing short of fantastic and his absence has left the running game with some issues. His return would mean a whole new dimension to this offense and could help take some of the pressure off Romo.

Fortunately for the Redskins and bad for us, it seems as if Felix Jones will not be able to go after missing yet another practice on Friday. So there you have it.

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