1) Dallas is currently 7-6 and a game behind the Philadelphia for the division lead. What do you expect from the Cowboys these last three weeks? What do they need to do to get into the playoffs?
SM: My confidence level in Dallas is fairly low right now. But they do have a favorable schedule ahead. Two of their three remaining games, against the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles, are at home. And Dallas is 5-1 at AT&T Stadium this season. Their lone away game is against the lowly 3-10 Washington Redskins. So the chances Dallas “wins out” are pretty good.
Unfortunately, they also need the Eagles help to win the NFC East. I think the Cowboys season could come down to the Eagles and Chicago Bears matchup in Week 16. If Philly loses that game, I believe the Cowboys have a chance at winning the division and making the playoffs.
2) Tony Romo is having a pretty good year so far. What part of his game has he improved the most over the past few years? What area would you like to see him still improve?
SM: Romo has played a lot more cautiously this season. That’s both good and bad. The good is Romo has cut down on his normal number of turnovers. So far this season he’s recorded 27 touchdowns as opposed to seven interceptions. The bad is Romo is no longer taking chances down field. He now settles for the open man and takes whatever the defense give him. But part of what made Romo good was his gunslinger mentality.
It appears this “mature” version of the 33-year old quarterback has become more of a game manager. As far as what he needs to improve, I’m not sure it’s Romo that needs to do anything. He’s at a place mentally where 90% of the mistakes he makes aren’t his fault. It’s his teammates! What Romo needs is to have the players around him step-up and get on the same page as him intellectually.
3) The Cowboys have really been struggling on defense this year. Do you blame the scheme change to the 4-3, injuries, or the lack of talent on that side of the ball?
SM: All of the above. I think it all has part to play in helping the Cowboys put out the worst defense in franchise history. Part of the blame has to go to defensive coordintor Monte Kiffin, who tried to implement his schemes without the proper personnel. Part of the blame is on the players being unable to execute those plays. And another part of the blame goes towards the training staff who have allowed more hamstring injuries than I’ve ever seen on this team before. They all share in the debacle that is the Cowboys defense.
4) Give us a Dallas player in each phase of the game the Packers will have to game plan for to win on Sunday?
SM: Offensively, it would have to be running back DeMarco Murray. In the past three games, the Cowboys have rushed for a total of 449 yards and four touchdowns. It’s pretty much a given that wideout Dez Bryant will be double-teamed. And no other Cowboys receiver, outside of tight end Jason Witten, has really stepped up as of late. I’d expect the ground game early and often from the Cowboys.
On defense, I would say no one. The way this Cowboys defense has been playing, they beat themselves from week to week. Finally, on special teams, it’s Dwayne Harris. Harris has been on of the best return men in the NFL when healthy. And he’s not healthy right now due to a hamstring injury (surprise). If Harris plays on Sunday, he would be the one the Packers would need to gameplan for.
5) Give us your game prediction, final score, and any final thoughts you’d like to leave with us.
SM: The Cowboys play well at home, but there defense just might be the worst in NFL History. If a healthy Aaron Rodgers plays, I think Dallas is toast. If Matt Flynn plays, Dallas is the favorite. At the end of the day, I’ll take the Cowboys looking for revenge from Monday night’s beatdown by the Chicago Bears. Even if Rodgers plays, I think he’ll be rusty and over cautious. Cowboys at AT&T Stadium over the Packers, 38-34.
I would just like to thank Steven from The Landry Hat for taking the time this week to answer our questions. Make sure to check back in with us at Lombardi Ave 15 minutes prior to kickoff for our live game day chat.
Packers @ Cowboys tickets remain available for this Sunday’s game so if you’re going to be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, make sure to cheer on the Pack at the AT&T Stadium.