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5 Questions with Blogging the Boys

Heading in to our weekend match up, what better way to learn about our opponent than to talk to some of the guys over at SBN's Dallas Cowboys page.  We sent them five questions about the Cowboys, which they were kind enough to answer.  They also posed five questions for us on the Bucs. 

Here's what Aaron Novinger from Blogging The Boys had to say about the Cowboys. 

(Note:  He answered his questions in blue, but since this is a Buc's site, I've taken the initiative to change them to red.  Take that!)

1) Roy Williams is the new #1 wide receiver with Public Enemy #1 (T.O.) out the door.  Will he be able to fit the bill?

I think so. He looked good in camp and in preseason. Last year was a mess, so Cowboys fans are anxious to see how Romo and Roy connect this year. They worked together during the offseason and will continue to grow as the season progresses.

 Now, the Dallas offense may look to spreading the ball around more with the two-TE sets they are expected to employ more this year. Really, Jason Witten is the team’s #1 receiver, and second-year man, Martellus Bennett, will also get his share of grabs. Being three deep at RB may also shorten the passing game as offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, will be trying to create more touches for the backfield’s homerun hitter, Felix Jones.

At WR, Williams gives Romo a big target and the dude does have speed. He made it a point to lose 10 pounds this offseason to help the team stay explosive on the outside. With Owens being in his mid-30s, Dallas did not have a long-term answer for the position until the Williams trade was made. After a full-offseason learning Garrett’s offense, he has no reason not to succeed.

 2) Wade Phillips has come under a lot of pressure in recent years for being too laid back.  It seems he's tried to toughen up a bit.  How has that gone over with the players?  Will it lead to a noticable difference in the team?

The players really do seem to respect Coach Wade’s approach. He is an X’s-and-O’s type of guy who stresses preparing for the mental aspect of the game. When a play is ran wrong in practice, he makes the players do it over until it’s done right. During training camp, you could see the sense of urgency from the players as they moved from drill to drill. Learning and following through with your assignment is the focus for the team this season. Coach Phillips and the rest of the staff have continued to reinforce that throughout each practice session.

 3) Its pretty well known Dallas has not won a playoff game since 1996. It seems like for the last few years, Dallas has flirted with being an NFC Power. Do you feel in 2009 Dallas will be an NFC Power, or is working on getting there?

Dallas can be a power in the conference, but they will have to work every week to prove it. Instead of relying on a high-powered offense to put up a ton of points, they have to play consistently on defense. The team is hoping newcomers, Igor Olshansky and Keith Brooking will help stuff opponents’ rushing attacks. A healthy Anthony Spencer is also a better run-stopper at outside linebacker than the departed Greg Ellis. DeMarcus Ware and NT Jay Ratliff are two of the best in the league at what they do. And in the secondary, SS Gerald Sensabaugh and the CB-tandem of Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick should help the coverage units significantly.

The area the team really needs to improve on is special teams. Those coverage units were atrocious last year. Joe DeCamillis was hired from the Jaguars to take over ST coaching duties; and without a pick in the first or second rounds this April, the team drafted players who excelled on special teams in college. The injury bug has already bitten this crop of rookies, but watch out for kickoff specialist David Buehler!

 4) Tony Romo has promised to become a more "active" leader.  Will he be able to do that, or will his "awe shucks" persona continue to shine through?  As a side question, what tropical island will Romo vacation to during the year and who will he go with?

 Hopefully, Romo will have a good enough year that he can just wait and hit up Hawaii again when it’s Pro Bowl time. I suspect any female companion on his arm will be a blond.

 The "awe shucks" persona is how Romo deals with all the media attention given to his position on this team. Since Troy Aikman, the Cowboys have had a long laundry list of quarterbacks who started and failed in Big D. People tend to forget that now that #9 is behind center. To me, he is as good a leader as any successful starting NFL quarterback. This is only his third full season as the starter, so I expect that aspect of his game to continue to grow. Of course, getting into and succeeding in the postseason is the next step in the "leadership" process for him.

5) What is Dallas?  Are they a defensive team who will just shut you down?  Or an offensive team who will outscore you?  I see components of both, but it often seems to be a team without an identity.  A great stable of backs coupled with a good WR and TE, but yet the philosophy seems to be inconsistent.

 Dallas is transitioning from that offensive team looking to outscore you to a more physical football team. Doing so requires discipline, which they are continuing to work on. With a giant offensive line, two big TEs, and Marion Barber, the team can pound the ball, but they have to eliminate stupid penalties that turn 3rd and shorts into 3rd and longs. Last season, the Cowboys led the league in penalties with 119 for 952 yards. Ouch!

 With Jason Garrett calling the plays and Tony Romo at quarterback, you can always expect to see some quick-strike action from the offense. But, my guess is that they will try to lull teams asleep by controlling the ball while they look for mismatches.

 On defense, Wade will bring the heat. While the ‘Boys led the league with 59 sacks last year, they amassed only eight interceptions. Getting picks has been a point of emphasis for the linebackers and secondary since training camp. With all the pressure this 3-4 scheme brings, the opportunities are there—the players just have to take advantage of them.

 Thanks Buc ‘Em for trading questions with Blogging the Boys. Can’t wait for Sunday, and feel free to beat up on the rest of the NFC East teams this season!

 Well there you go, straight from the horse's mouth so to speak.  Looks like a good game is shaping up.