Ahead of this week's Sunday night football game against the hated Cowboys, I exchanged some questions with Dave Halprin, who runs Blogging The Boys. You can find my answers and what our dear friends in the BTB community thought of them over there.
JB - I see Sunday's night game as a meeting of two teams locked in a battle with themselves. Agree?
What was your take on the end of that New England game? Does Jason Garrett or Rob Ryan take a greater share of the blame?
DH - To some extent, agree. Both teams have let opportunity slip through their grasp multiple times this season. The fact that both are fighting to get back into the race has a lot to do with their own failings; they both could be front-runners at this point. But everything in the NFL feels so week-to-week. The Cowboys luckily just had a "get well" game against the Rams and are feeling much better about themselves as a team. String together a couple of victories and suddenly you're on a roll. So the perception one week to the next can totally change.
I give no blame to Rob Ryan. Sure it was disappointing to give up that final drive, but when you hold Tom Brady and the Patriots to 20 points at their home, and make Wes Welker a non-factor, you've done your job. It's hard to ask for more. That game was on the offense. We couldn't score touchdowns in the redzone, and we could run the ball when we needed to. So Garrett, as the head coach/offensive coordinator, takes some of the blame, but the players failed to execute, too. The only real problem I had at the end of the game was the running play on 2nd down on our drive before giving up the winning TD. I would have at least called a screen, a quick slant, something safe and hope a guy makes a play in the open field. And I also tell Romo in no uncertain terms to eat the ball if he doesn't like what he sees. But it was the ineffectiveness of the offense in the redzone earlier in the game that really killed us.
Tony Romo's rollercoaster season seems to be the big story surrounding the Cowboys so far this year. What is up with him? Is it a health thing or is it a head thing?
It's not a health thing, although that has certainly altered his game in some respects. (Less scrambling, quicker patterns, etc.) Besides, the meltdown to the Jets happened pre-injury. This is how I always explain Tony Romo to fans of other teams. He has almost every skill you want in a QB; accurate, quick release, good pocket awareness, can scramble and throw on the run, make any throw. The "but" is that he has periods where his decision-making lets him down, and he's done it in memorable fashion. To me, the problem appears to be over-competitveness, he's not willing to take the safe route if he perceives there's a chance for a bigger play. So he'll end up taking the risky play when caution is more adviseable. Now, when he hits those plays, we love it as fans. We say "what an unbelievable play"! But when it turns into a disaster, hell hath no fury like a NFL fan scorned. But that's life as a NFL QB.
How do you see the NFC East so far and going forward? The Skins got off to a good start but are fading. The Eagles and Cowboys are probably the most talented but have underperformed and the Giants, while being the most consistent aren't terribly impressive. How does it all end up?
Good question, if you know the answer, let me know and I'll lay down some bets. Right now, I see a three-team race because the 'Skins look like a fading team and they have QB issues, which will doom a team in the NFL. I think you've accurately described the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants above. I think, though, there's a ton of pressure on the Eagles to win on Sunday; it's a divisional game, it's at home, and digging out of a 2-5 hole is a really tall order. But if you win, then you're right back in the mix record-wise. This game will tell some of the story. As for the Giants, I respect what they're doing, but I'm not totally convinced they can sustain it the whole season. Like I said above, the NFL feels so week-to-week that if you ask me this question next week, I might have a totally different answer.