I can’t say that I’ve stuck with the original purpose behind this site (trivia, obscurity, whatever) very faithfully, but at least I’ve stuck with Questions Waiting for Answers all season! Thought it was mildly interesting to read my (was still referring then to “we,” though there was no “we”) week one questions in the game vs. Jacksonville:
We have our week one prognosis. We’re going to keep this short, since you can read predictions and other stuff at other sites. This is what is on our minds.
(1) Can the Cowboys’ generate a pass rush without all-out blitzes? We think so, assuming Ellis and Ware are as effective as they have been during the preseason. The defense will be so much tougher if it can generate pressure with four or five guys.
(2) Can Roy play up without causing coverage problems. See #3 for the answer.
(3) Is the Cowboys’ coverage as good as we think it is? This depends on: (a) Whether Henry is really back from his groin injury from last year; (b) the performance at free safety; and (c) whether Newman has taken that step up to the next level.
(4) Can the Cowboys run consistently? This probably depends on whether they can run off the edge. We think we’ll see quite a bit of Barber, which will be a constant theme throughout the first half of the season.
(5) Will Bledsoe have time? He sure did in the preseason, but this is a new ballgame. We’ve upgraded our weapons, now we need to make sure we can take a shot.
(6) Will our special teams step up to the challenge? The first field goal is going to cause some frayed nerves to say the least.
(7) Our prediction. Dallas 24, Jacksonville 17.
For the season finale, let’s reconsider a few of these questions.
(1) Can the Cowboys’ generate a pass rush without all-out blitzes? The answer before the injury to Ellis was generally yes. The answer lately has been that we like to give the opposing quarterback a pocket about 15 yards in diameter on each passing play. This is from Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News:
[Detroit] offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the former St. Louis head coach, has a scheme that can scare defenses, but he leaves his quarterback open to hits and poor throws. The Cowboys must attack.
Coach Bill Parcells hinted at changes Wednesday, saying the Lions run 31 percent of the time, which could lead to more of a nickel defense look or even a base 4-3 look. Could Kenyon Coleman, who has been perhaps the most active defensive end on a per-snap basis, sneak into the starting lineup?
(2) Can we avoid coverage problems with Roy in the game? Have to think that the coverage problems are a result of lack of a quality free safety, but Williams has not been effective in coverage all year.
(3) Have the Cowboys found any answers to their coverage problems? Anthony Henry looks like he is playing hurt, given how slow he seemed to run on his interception return in the first quarter against the Eagles (and I’m not the only one who has commented on that). Terence Newman became vocal after last week’s loss, and that may be a good thing. However, teams are having success even though they never throw in his direction.
(4) Can the Cowboys regain its running game? Julius Jones has his 1,000 yards, but he hasn’t been consistent. That said, Detroit has given up 130.1 yards per game on the ground and has allowed 11 runs of 20 yards or more. By comparison, Dallas has given up five runs of 20+ yards. If the Cowboys can’t run against the Lions, I’m not sure who they can run against in the playoffs.
(5) Can the line give Romo a little bit more time? Dallas still has not figured out what to do when teams rush right up the gut. New Orleans established a blueprint whereby the defense contains Romo to the outside while getting pressure up the middle. The Cowboys are still searching for an answer to this.
(6) Will special teams be an issue? They haven’t been lately, except for the late field goal to beat the Giants.
(7) Prediction: Dallas 27, Detroit 10. I wasn’t going to give a prediction, but I have every week this season. Had I been correct, Dallas would be 15-1 after this week.
Playoff update: the Giants moved closer to clinching the last playoff spot in the NFC with a 34-28 win over the Redskins. Thanks to Grande Communication’s contract with the NFL Network, this is the closest I came to watching it.
And now I’ll leave you with a final thought from Mickey Spagnola about the Falcons’ chances this week against the Eagles:
Not sure anyone should hold their breath Sunday for the Atlanta Falcons to do the Cowboys a favor by beating Philadelphia, which coupled with a Cowboys victory over Detroit would bring the NFC East title to Dallas. Remember last year? The Cowboys needed an Atlanta victory over Carolina to make their season finale game that Sunday night against St. Louis meaningful. The Falcons got drilled, 44-11. And they were at least at home that day.