With the Eagles and Cowboys scheduled to face off on Sunday Night Football, I reached out to the SB Nation Cowboys site: Blogging the Boys. Dave Halprin kindly took the time to answer my questions.
Let's take a look at the questions and answers.
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1) Name a Cowboys player on offense and defense that the Eagles need to watch out for.
On offense the Cowboys will probably need a big game out of Jason Witten as Kyle Orton's security blanket. I'm not sure the Eagles safeties/linebackers can cover Witten so I'm hoping Dallas and Orton look to him on a regular basis. On defense, safety Barry Church may be a key player. If Dallas runs a lot of 4-2-5 like the first game, Church will need to help in coverage AND be the "third" linebacker in helping to contain McCoy.
2) It looks like that Tony Romo guy won't be suiting up. How do you feel about the Cowboys chances with Kyle Orton starting at QB?
I think Kyle Orton is about as good a backup as you can have in the NFL, but he's not on the same talent-level as Tony Romo. Orton has to be quick and decisive with his throws, he can't escape pressure like Romo so the Cowboys offense needs to execute crisply. I like that Orton has plenty of experience and has played in pressure situations before. So I feel okay about Orton but not nearly as confident as with Romo.
3) Sean Lee is also expected to miss Sunday's game. How big of an impact does that have on the Dallas defense?
That is a huge letdown for Dallas. Lee was all over the field during the first Cowboys/Philly game and was a large part of the reason the Cowboys defense played so well. Not only in stopping the run but he helped disrupt the passing game. He's the "quarterback" on defense and gets everybody lined up correctly and helps diagnose plays pre-snap. His absence is a huge loss.
4) In the scope of the Cowboys franchise moving forward, how big is Sunday's game? Does making the playoffs ensure long-term continuity for the current regime? Is wholesale change (ex: Garrett fired) around the corner if the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs?
I think if Dallas wins and makes the playoffs Garrett is definitely safe for next year. If the Cowboys lose but play well I'd say it's likely that Garrett comes back, but there probably will be some staff turnover. If the Cowboys totally bomb on Sunday and look like they're giving a lackluster effort, all bets are off. I'd say staff turnover would be a given and Garrett would be 50-50 to retain his job.
5) I noticed the Cowboys are tied for third in points scored per game (27.8) but only rank 22nd in yards per game (336.3). What's the explanation behind that?
A few things. One, the Cowboys are very efficient in the redzone, so once they have a long drive they usually put points on the board, many times the full seven. Second, the defense has scored six times and presented the offense short fields through turnovers, so that has helped. Also, special teams has pitched in as Dwayne Harris is a real threat on returns. So they are getting points at a higher rate than their offensive yards would indicate.
Bonus: Let's hear a score prediction. Who wins this game and why?
Cowboys 27 - Eagles 24. The Cowboys are at home and I'm an eternal optimist. So until they lose I'll believe they will win.