The Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) and Dallas Cowboys (3-5) are set to play on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. In order to preview this Week 10 NFC East matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Blogging The Boys. The dastardly Dave Halprin (just kidding, he’s actually a real nice guy!) took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let’s take a look at his answers.
1 - Things don’t seem to be going so well down in Dallas as the Cowboys are off to a 3-5 start. What’s the problem?
The easy, general answer is that the offense has malfunctioned in a major way. At the core, that is the problem because the defense has done more than enough to make this a winning team in 2018. Now, when you start getting into what exactly is wrong with the offense, that’s when you get many different answers. Personally, I start with the quarterback. Dak Prescott has regressed as a quarterback instead of grown. He’s holding the ball too long instead of letting it fly, he’s skittish in the pocket leading to bad mechanics and footwork which lead to inaccurate passes, and there are times when he panics thinking the pocket is breaking down when it’s not. There’s just a host of things he’s not doing well. During his phenomenal rookie season it was his composure in the pocket and quick decision-making that was impressive. Somehow, that seems to be gone.
He’s not being helped by an offensive scheme that is growing stale, and a scheme that really isn’t designed for a quarterback like Prescott. They have talked about making changes to make it “Dak-friendly” but Scott Linehan hasn’t really changed the offense. They really haven’t adapted the scheme to the things he does best. Additionally, the offensive line just isn’t as good as it has been in the past. The changes in continuity and the change in line coach this offseason didn’t work out well. Finally, the wide receivers and the tight ends have been sub-par for the most part, so much so they had to go get Amari Cooper. Add all that up and you have a bad, bad offense.
2 - Jerry Jones said Dak Prescott is going to receive a contract extension. Eagles fans seem to be completely fine with that news since they think he’s a mediocre player (at best) who won’t put the Cowboys over the top. Do Cowboys fans believe Prescott is truly the long-term answer at quarterback?
Well, first of all, never believe what Jerry Jones says. I saw that comment and pretty much brushed it off. Jerry says things like that to support his players or coaches, etc. but then three months later it can be a different story. So, as for that part of the question, I don’t think Jerry has any true idea if they are going to extend Prescott at this point in time. So many things can happen over the next couple of months of the season. There could be a new coaching regime, Prescott could just totally bottom out over the last half of the season, he could get hurt. So many things can happen so I’m in no way focused on that comment from Jerry.
As for Cowboys fans and what they believe? There are fans who support Dak and think it’s the coaches or the other players that are the problem. There are other fans who are fed up with Dak and want to move on. Then there are those in the middle ground who are unsure. Fans are all over the place on this issue. I think what happens the rest of this year will play a big role in what fans want as we head into the 2019 offseason.
3 - Would you rather see the Cowboys bottom out and clean house, as Troy Aikman suggested is necessary, or is there hope that the current structure can truly lead the team to a Super Bowl title?
Bottoming out is not something I would want to see. I never like to see a franchise tank, and I never like to see a sports team that I cheer for hit rock bottom. I would always rather they remain competitive and build their team until they get to a championship level. I realize that’s not always possible but it’s the way I’d rather see things happen. Can the Cowboys do that? I don’t know. My gut tells me that some major changes to the coaching staff are needed, including Jason Garrett, unless the rest of the year is a miracle turnaround. And I’m not sold on Prescott so he has eight games to reverse his slide. It really depends on how the Cowboys finish the year. Yes, they are struggling this year, but this is a team that went 13-3 in 2016 and 9-7 in 2017. It’s not like they’ve been awful for years. They are only 3-5 on the year so it’s still possible they will end up with an average record. It’s hard to say that you would totally blow up a team that has been over .500 the past few years on aggregate. But if they do continue to lose this season, then by the end of the year things could look very different.
4 - Speaking of championships, what was the reaction from Cowboys fans when the Eagles won the first Super Bowl earlier this year? (Had to do it!)
Yeah, my guess is you know EXACTLY what Cowboys fans thought about that.
5 - What is the Cowboys’ biggest strength? Where do they have the biggest edge in this game?
Their biggest strength this year, at least until the Titans game, was their defense. Going into the Monday night game they were the NFL’s best defense in points allowed. They had been very good at limiting the damage in the redzone, had done a decent job of applying pressure to the QB, and were limiting big plays. That unit had kept the Cowboys in most games this year and if they were playing with a decent offense the Cowboys would probably have at least a couple of more wins on the season.
6 - What is the Cowboys’ biggest weakness? What concerns you the most about the Eagles?
The Cowboys biggest weakness is when the running game isn’t functioning well, then the offense is in real trouble. The Cowboys and Dak Prescott play poorly when they are forced to be one-dimensional. They just don’t have the firepower in their passing game to overcome a running game that isn’t getting it done. Philadelphia is a very hard team to run against, so that doesn’t bode well for Dallas.
7 - What’s your prediction for Sunday’s game? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Cowboys season?
I doubt the Cowboys are going to be able to run the ball the way they want on offense, so I don’t think the offense will play well. It’s very difficult to see a way they win that game on the road, where they have been awful this year. As for the rest of the year, who knows. I mean all you can base things on in reality is what you’re seeing, and what we’re seeing right now is not a very good football team. Amari Cooper may help, changing the offensive line coach may help, but probably not enough to make a real difference this year.