A special thanks to friend, Dave Halprin, for taking the time to answer my Cowboys' questions. Some great insight in here looking forward to Monday:
1.) DeMarcus Ware only played 62% of the snaps vs Saints. He'll clearly play this week through the shoulder injury, but how effective was he vs Saints?
Halprin: Ware's injuries are definitely having an effect on his game. 2012 hasn't been his best season even before the injuries and now he's struggling to make the dynamic plays. His presence was rarely felt against the Saints and I wouldn't expect him to be dominant against the Redskins. The only silver lining is that on the other side Anthony Spencer has had a breakout season and has become a player teams have to gameplan for. Ware might come up with a couple of good plays in the game, but I would bet that Spencer will be the hero if the Cowboys generate a significant pass rush.
2.) Santana Moss has a history of getting behind Cowboys' safeties...what's the current status of the Cowboys' safeties and what's your confidence level there?
Gerald Sensabaugh has been steady all year long at free safety, but strong safety has been an issue since Barry Church went down early in the season. Backup Danny McCray manned the position for much of the year but was a constant target for opposing teams. The Cowboys have signed guys like Charlie Peprah and Eric Frampton to try an alleviate the problem, but they haven't been significantly better. No matter which guy they go with, my confidence level is very low and I expect the Redskins will attack that spot without mercy.
3.) I know the Linebackers are banged up for the Cowboys...who's looking to start there and what's their experience level?
Dan Connor will be one of the inside linebackers and he's got plenty of experience. When he first started playing regularly he struggled but has been getting consistently better as the season wore on. Ernie Sims was signed to play mid-season and was an experienced vet even though he was a street free agent. I've actually been surprised at how well he's fit in with the Cowboys defense. He's had concussion issues the past few weeks but he looks like he'll play this week. Those two will be the likely starters. Reserve Alex Albright will also likely play (knee issue) and has shown some skill. He could be a pleasant surprise for the Cowboys going forward.
4.) Rob Ryan will likely need a new game plan....has BTB or Dallas media provided any insight on how to better slow down the Redskins offense?
Ryan's options are limited because of all the injuries. The Cowboys defense has had more injuries this year, season-ending injuries, than I can remember. Given all the personnel turnover and new guys learning the defense that weren't even on the team at the beginning of the season, Ryan has had to go very vanilla on defense. I expect the Cowboys to do the same thing they've been doing recently, and that's to play a soft coverage, conservative defense that forces a team to drive the field in short chunks. The hope is the opponent will make a mistake along the way, or that a Cowboys defender will make a key play to limit the long drives. With the Cowboys offense back on track, the defense's job is to limit the scores instead of shutting people down or winning the game themselves. Keep the opponent somewhat in check and let the offense outscore the opponent.
5.) The debate goes back and forth whether Tony Romo is clutch. In all seriousness, he is a good QB and is so elusive in the pocket. He has the skills to get it done but always seems to lose the big ones. What defense is there for these big games over the years and how do you see this week's matchup going?
- 2006 - Botched field goal hold vs Seattle in Wild Card game.
- 2007 - Divisional playoff vs NYG ended game with 3 incompletions and INT for 21-17 loss.
- 2008 - Week 14 threw a pick 6 with less than 2 minutes left to lose 20-13 vs PIT.
- 2009 - Lost 4 out of 7 games where Cowgirls were losing by 8 points or less in 4th.
- 2010 - Lost all 4 games where Cowgirls were losing by 8 points or less in 4th.
- 2011 - Jets debacle (fumble and INT to Revis): It was the first time Dallas lost a game in which they led by at least 14 points in the 4th quarter.
- 2011 - They flopped in this week 17 game (same scenario - win and in) last year 31-17 at NYG.
Here's what I'll say on this subject, Tony Romo is in no way the problem with the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys teams in his time playing QB have been flawed in plenty of areas, and those flaws have contributed to the Cowboys woes late in the year and in big games. Romo is a gambler, gunslinger QB so it's inevitable he's going to have times when he tries to force the action when he should backoff, but more often than not he's doing it because he has to for the Cowboys to have a shot. Over the second half of this season, Romo has been nearly flawless, so hopefully he will continue that trend on Sunday.
And lastly, here are my answers to his questions:
Cowboys @ Redskins: 5 Questions With Hogs Haven - Blogging The Boys
The Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins meet for the NFC East on Sunday night. We check in with SB Nation's Redskins blog, Hogs Haven, to get a preview of the game.