The Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1) and the Dallas Cowboys (2-5) are set to play each other on Sunday Night Football at Lincoln Financial Field. In order to preview this Week 8 matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Blogging The Boys. The dignified Dave Halprin kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming tilt. Let’s take a look at his answers. (Check out my side of the exchange coming up at BTB on Friday.)
1) Is Mike McCarthy in any serious danger of being one-and-done in Dallas?
I don’t think you can dismiss this as a possible scenario. It’s probably not the likeliest outcome as you would guess that the Jones family would give McCarthy more time to install his culture and plans. Especially given that the weird 2020 offseason made it very difficult to make a coaching change effectively. Then you have to add in the injury situation the Cowboys find themselves in. So there are plenty of mitigating factors McCarthy can point to for the team’s lack of success. But, if the season keeps spiraling out of control, and players start being vocal about the dysfunction around the team, you could envision a scenario where the Cowboys just decide to blow everything up and start over.
Jerry and Stephen Jones have both backed McCarthy, as you would expect them to do at this point in the season. And contrary to how Jerry Jones is portrayed, he doesn’t really fire coaches on a whim (see Jason Garrett). So the betting money would be on McCarthy getting at least one more season, but you never know.
2) When BTB’s RJ Ochoa joined The ODDcast recently, he said he felt like the Cowboys would be better off not winning the NFC East this year. Is that how the majority of Cowboys fans feel and what’s the thinking behind that mindset?
I’m reluctant to speak for the majority of Cowboys fans, but I would say the thinking behind that feeling goes something like this: Even if Dallas wins the division they will get blown out in the playoffs and it will mess up their draft pick. The feeling before Dak Prescott was hurt was that the Cowboys could still compete somewhat and that some of their injured players would be returning. So there was still hope that the Cowboys could kind of turn things around and actually be competitive with some of the better teams. Once Prescott went down, and we saw what the offense would look like with Andy Dalton, the air went totally out of the balloon. So there is a feeling among some of the fanbase that the Cowboys would be better off basically writing the year off and getting a higher draft pick.
3) What is a Ben DiNucci?
We’d like to know that, too! Ben DiNucci is a seventh-round draft pick that was mostly a curiosity around Dallas since nobody expected him to ever get close to playing in an actual game this year. Dak Prescott had never missed a game prior to this year and even if he went down then Andy Dalton would take over. Given how the Cowboys 2020 season has gone, DiNucci starting a game is just par for the course. DiNucci started his college career at Pittsburgh until transferring to James Madison. He had a couple of big years at James Madison including a stellar senior season. He was highly rated for throwing the deep ball, but with the current Cowboys offensive line, having the time to throw deep seems unlikely. Mike McCarthy said they liked DiNucci’s accuracy when they drafted him and compared him to a young Marc Bulger.
4) What’s the best thing the Cowboys have going for them right now? What, if anything, inspires reason for optimism?
Honestly, there is nothing right now that inspires optimism. I’m generally an optimistic sports fan, but even I can’t manage to see any silver linings in this cloud of a Cowboys season. The best thing the Cowboys have going for them right now is their receiving group. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb are as good as it gets. If you can get them the ball they can make things happen. The problem is the Cowboys makeshift line is not doing a good job of giving the QB time and with Ben DiNucci back there, there is no confidence that he could make things happen anyway. The best thing the Cowboys could do is try to run a West Coast passing scheme and get the ball out quickly to the receivers and hope they make some plays with YAC.
5) We all know the Cowboys’ defense is terrible. But what makes it so bad, exactly?
There is no one thing that makes it bad, it’s a collection of things. They can’t stop the run and teams are basically just staying on the ground and marching the ball down the field. The defensive tackles can’t anchor the middle of the line and get washed out of the play all the time. The defensive ends, instead of taking on their blocks and setting the edges are jumping around blockers and getting out of position. The linebackers are guessing where the ball is going and are frequently wrong and also are getting dominated by blocks at the second level. Even teams with awful rushing offenses are having banner days running the ball.
The secondary isn’t much better. The Cowboys just don’t have the talent they need back there. Plus, they are trying to run a new, more complex scheme brought in by defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and that has led to so many blown coverages. It’s amazing how many times receivers are wide open, like more than five feet away from the nearest defender, against this defense. To top it all off, they are terrible at generating turnovers so basically they are not stopping anybody.
6) Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Cowboys season?
Philadelphia will win this game, probably something like 34-13. As for the reasons why, see above. My expectations for the rest of the Cowboys season is for them to lose a lot of games. Seriously, I don’t have any expectations besides misery for the rest of the year.