Here we go....5 questions with
the enemy David Halprin, Lead Edtor of SB Nation's site, Blogging the Boys:
1.) With Miles Austin out, potentially Dez, and Felix Jones ailing, what can we expect this Cowboys offense to look like? Who is the hot read?
A lot of what happens will depend on Dez Bryant. If he plays, he'll be the man along with Jason Witten. Last week, the Cowboys relied on Austin and Witten to carry the load with Byrant out, they'd do a similar thing this week with Austin out and if Bryant plays. If Dez doesn't go, it's going to be interesting to watch, outside of Witten, the Cowboys will have no other proven receiver in the game. Jesse Holley made three big plays late in last week's game, maybe he has the magic in him for another week.
Felix Jones could help by running patterns out of the backfield, he's an excellent catch-and-run guy, but his status is cloudy. Backups Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray could help, with Murray known for his pass-catching ability in college. He might be the surprise guy this week if Felix is limited or doesn't play. One thing is for sure, count on a heavy dose of Jason Witten.
2.) Terrance Newman coming back is obviously a big thing, how has the Cowboys secondary been so far...specifically the safeties?
The secondary has been riddled with injury so far, and their play has been uneven. It's really the cornerback position that's been the problem, safeties Gerald Sensabaugh and Abe Elam have been steady so far. With nickel corner Orlando Scandrick out, Terence Newman yet to play, and starter Mike Jenkins hobbled by injury and in and out of games, teams have been targeting the backups. Alan Ball has been the main guy teams have gone after. With Newman back and Jenkins looking healthier, and recently signed Frank Walker playing his second game, the hope is this will finally be a stable unit. The Cowboys pass rush has been a big help in trying to hide the injury-deficiencies. We're actually pleased with the safety play so far. (Knock on wood)
3.) How has Rob Ryan's defense differed from years past (blitz packages, are players being used differently)? What's making it work better?
It's a night and day difference. The Cowboys defense in previous years was very static, guys usually lined up in the same places, and there wasn't much disguise going on. Offenses knew what was coming, so the Cowboys had to win the individual battles to make it work.
Ryan has them doing all kinds of things. They move around before the snap, they put players in positions where you wouldn't expect them, you never know who will rush and who will drop back in coverage. It's a complicated, fluid scheme that can confuse offenses. Outside of the cornerback position detailed above, the defense has been very good. We're getting pressure and sacks, and not just from DeMarcus Ware. Sean Lee has become a beast in the middle and is a tackling machine. This is an attacking defense, with a different mind-set than before.
4.) The Redskins were able to steal Stephen Bowen away. DeMarcus Ware thinks it's still a big deal. What have you noticed in his replacement and do you feel the same way?
When it happened, I thought it was a big deal. Now, not as much. Jason Hatcher has been playing inspired ball in the first two weeks, he's thriving in Rob Ryan's system. The rotation of Hatcher, Marcus Spears, Kenyon Coleman and Sean Lissemore has been tough against the run, and efficient in the pass rush. I like Bowen as a player, and lobbied hard for the Cowboys to keep him, but so far, it really hasn't hurt us in losing him.
5.) If you could add any Redskin to your team, who would it be and why? (besides DHall? - sarcasm alert)
Well, could I have Santana Moss for the next few weeks? The Cowboys could sure use a receiving threat to help cope with injuries. But given we're a 3-4 defense, probably Brian Orakpo. We have Ware, but in a 3-4 I'm always on the lookout for help at LB, and a Ware/Orakpo pairing could be devastating.