In the last installment of our 'Five Questions With ' series with other SB Nation bloggers we visit with the great Grizz, from our Dallas Cowboys blog, Blogging The Boys.
This idea seems to have gone over well, both with the bloggers involved and with the truly important folks, you guys who read BBV. So, I'll be reaching out to some of the other bloggers on the network to see if we can't bring you updates on some of the other interesting teams around the league.
Anyway, here is our interview with Blogging The Boys.
1. Big Blue View: The biggest change this year for the Cowboys is, obviously, Wade Phillips as head coach instead of Bill Parcells. How will this change impact the Cowboys? Why?
• Blogging The Boys: The absence of Bill Parcells and the presence of Wade Phillips impacts the Cowboys in two main areas. On the field, we'll continue to run the 3-4 defense but Wade Phillips version, which we have dubbed the Phillips 34, is a much more aggressive scheme. Parcells ran a bend-don't-break defense that was big on players being in the right position and winning one-on-one battles. Phillips prefers to unleash the hounds and send massive pressure against the QB. For comparison, the Cowboys had 34 sacks last year, the Chargers had 61. So expect a much more aggressive and risk-taking defense from the Cowboys this year. Off the field, everything is much more relaxed at Valley Ranch. Parcells was dictator who had his hand in everything and liked to use mind-games to motivate players. Phillips is much more of a player's coach who wants his team to resemble one big family. How this translates to wins and losses is up for debate, but for right now the players and the organization as a whole have made it clear that they could use a break after four years of stern rule by Parcells.
2. Big Blue View: This is Terrell Owens' second year with Dallas. Everybody knows his history, and you understand that sooner or later he will become a divisive force on your team. Will T.O. be a positive, playmaking force for the Cowboys this year, or will this be the year he implodes, taking the team down with him?
• Blogging The Boys: Terrell Owens has been strangely silent this off-season. He had a couple of surgeries to fix a torn tendon in his ring finger but made it to mini-camps and was reportedly having no trouble catching the ball. Wade Phillips has already taken the opposite approach to Owens from Bill Parcells. He talks about him by name, he says he's part of the family and intends to treat him with respect. But in the end, no one really knows what goes on in Owens' head, so I expect he'll be similar to last year. He will probably be our leading WR again, he led the league in TD catches last year with 13, and he will probably say some stupid things along the way. But the Armageddon you're looking for probably won't happen.
3. Big Blue View: Tony Romo was terrific last season, though we really only saw him for half of the year. Can he sustain that level of play and be a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback year-in and year-out, or is he a flash in the pan?
• Blogging The Boys: Everybody would like to know the answer to that question because he is in the final year of his contract and the Cowboys need to make a decision on extending his contract. Personally, I think Romo has all the tools to be a very successful QB in this league; he just needs to work on a few things. He got a little sloppy with ball security toward the end of the year and he let his mechanics break down on occasion. I think with the experience he gained last year, and the help of new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, a former Cowboy QB, he'll find a little more consistency this year. He can make all the throws, he has a great sense of the rush and how to avoid it, and he has the leadership qualities you want in a QB. Plus, he dates hot blonde singers on the side, so he gives us bloggers plenty to write about!
4. Big Blue View: What key off-season acquisitions have the Cowboys made, and why do you think they can get to the Super Bowl?
• Blogging The Boys; The key acquisition was lineman Leonard Davis from Arizona. The guy is a mountain but he isn't fat, he's pretty athletic. Now before you snicker because he was somewhat of a bust in Arizona, the Cowboys will not be playing him at left tackle this year, they are moving him to the interior at right guard. This will help to negate his biggest weakness which was dealing with speed rushers out on the edge of the defensive line. Inside, he'll be able to use his incredible size and strength and won't have to worry about the speed issue as much. He replaces vet Marco Rivera who was not very good last year. The Cowboys under new coordinator Jason Garrett will be moving more to a power running game and Davis should fit right in. We also picked up safety Ken Hamlin from the Seahawks to help fix an abysmal coverage unit at the safety position. If he can help solidify the Cowboys deep middle coverage, then the defense could be one of the better units in the league.
As for why they can get to the Super Bowl, it's the NFC, almost anybody has a chance at the Super Bowl from this conference.
5. Big Blue View: What do you fear most as something that could cause the Cowboys to underachieve and miss the playoffs?
• Blogging The Boys: One would be if Tony Romo doesn't quite match his output from last year. If he struggles like he did down the stretch, the Cowboys are in trouble. Two, we need to be able to get to the QB in this new Phillips 34 defense. The defense is set-up to cause disruption in the offensive backfield and if that doesn't happen, it's not going to be an effective defense. Finally, Ken Hamlin has to settle down our safeties in coverage. Out cornerbacks are pretty good, but our safeties couldn't cover anybody last year. That has to change.
Our thanks to David, known to the world as 'Grizz,' for taking the time to answer our questions. We have to say, however, that we Giants fans hope the Phillips 34 goes the way of most of those Phillips 66 gas stations you can hardly ever find on the east coast anymore, and that Tony Romo continues to have trouble gripping things other than Carrie Underwood's purse!