In what we hope will become a regular feature here at BRB, we sent five (5) questions to our compatriot over at Blogging the Boys about Dallas' prospects this season as we march forth to Saturday night's Governor's Cup. Dave also sent us five questions, which we boldly answered; those eloquent responses can be found over here. Without further ado, here's what a guy who actually roots for Jerry Jones thinks:
BTB: I would have to say that most of the Cowboys faithful have taken a big swig of Romo-flavored Kool-Aid. I've even hoisted a few glasses myself. Romo was so good in those first five games that it was impossible to keep up that pace. So the arc of his story went from great to good to playoff gaffe for the ages. But when you watch him play, you can see he has the tools to be a great QB. Quick release, accuracy, strong arm, mobility, ability to read the defense and a leadership quality that has his teammates in full support of him. I expect big numbers from Romo this year and I expect him to be the Cowboys QB for years to come. And the playoff thing from last year hasn't bothered him one bit. He admitted that for a couple of weeks it really hurt, but he got over that and has looked great in training camp and preseason. I think Romo will be one of the better QBs in the league this year.
2. Bill Parcells was undeniably good for Dallas, lack of a ring during his tenure there notwithstanding. Now that it's Wade Phillips' show, what shift (if any) will we see in terms of the offensive and defensive schemes?
BTB: On defense, you'll still see the 3-4 defense, but it's a totally different scheme than Bill Parcells' version. In fact, this has been one of the major stories for the Cowboys this offseason. Parcells ran a two-gap read-and-react scheme. Phillips runs a one-gap attacking defense with plenty of blitzes, stunts and movement of players. The Dallas defense is excited about the change, especially the line and linebackers who will get more opportunities to get after the QB and disrupt plays in the backfield. Of course the downside comes if you don't get the pressure; then your secondary has a big challenge.
On offense, we've imported the timing passing offense that Dallas used in the 90s under Norv Turner. That's because the new offensive coordinator is former Dallas backup QB Jason Garrett, who toiled behind Troy Aikman and learned the timing offense under Turner. Look for precise drops by the QB, throwing the ball before the WR makes his break, and good use of the TE position. The running game with Julius Jones and Marion Barber is mostly a hold-over from the Parcells era. Offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who served under Parcells, is doing a lot in helping Garrett coordinate the running game.
3. Tell us about the progress of the Cowboys' 2007 draft picks, especially first-rounder Anthony Spencer out of Purdue and Isaiah Stanback out of Washington, who apparently has gotten reps as a wide-out in the preseason. Has Terry Glenn's rigor mortis gotten so bad that the Cowboys are actually considering lining up a QB at WR?
BTB: Anthony Spencer has been thrust into the starting lineup because Greg Ellis is not ready to play yet due to injury. So far he's shown great athletic ability and is starting to understand the difference between playing DE in college and playing OLB in a 3-4. He's still a little slow in making the reads on run vs. pass, but looks to be getting better each week. Isaiah Stanback was out all training camp with a foot injury until he started practicing last week and played in the last preseason game. In his first game as a WR in the NFL, he caught a TD pass and it was a tough catch. We've got high expectations for him as an athlete and his conversion to WR. Terry Glenn had a bone spur in his knee and had surgery but should be back on the field on opening day. But if he wasn't there, we would line up a QB at WR, just not Stanback. 4th-year veteran Patrick Crayton is a former college QB who has successfully transferred to WR and was one of the better #3 WRs in the NFL last year. He's a solid backup for Glenn.
4. For those of us who have permanently banned ESPN from our households due to BondsVickSeligDonaghy Syndrome, fill us in on the early returns on Wade v. T.O. We have not heard anything about Ed Werder collapsing in a hysterical fit, so our assumption is that the two men are thus far co-existing relatively peacefully (i.e., no suicide attempts from #81, the Coach actually referring to #81 by name, etc.).
BTB: T.O. has been a model citizen since Wade was hired - frankly, it's weird. I compared the new T.O. to a pod-person from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's not T.O.; it's an alien entity who has taken over his body. Seriously though, he has been on very good behavior and has made ESPN schedulers work overtime to fill the blank spots they had marked for a T.O. controversy report. Wade calls him Terrell, calls him part of the family, and seems to have created a nice working environment with him. We'll see if it lasts when we lose a game and he's not involved, but he likes Wade Phillips so far, likes his new position coach, and really likes Tony Romo. It's hard to explain unless you cover him every day, but he really does seem different this year. We're enjoying it while it lasts.
5. Fill in the blank: At the end of the regular season, Dallas' record will be 11-5. At the end of the playoffs, Dallas will have won at least one playoff game(s).