With Jason Garrett taking over for Wade Phillips as head coach, this is an interesting week for our New York Giants to be hosting the Dallas Cowboys. It is also an interesting week to chat with Dave Halprin, editor of SB Nation's Cowboys website, Blogging The Boys.
Here is this week's 'Five Questions' segment with Dave. My answers to his questions will be available over at BTB. Play nice over there, fellas. I don't want to be dishing out 'taunting' penalties.
Big Blue View: You have probably written and talked more about Wade Phillips this week than you ever wanted to. Are you surprised it took Jerry Jones this long to remove Phillips as head coach, and how much blame do you assign to Phillips for the mess that has been the Dallas season?
Blogging the Boys: I'm not really surprised it took Jerry Jones this long, he's never changed coaches mid-season before and he's been telling us for a few weeks that it wouldn't happen this year. Based on that, I feared he might actually stick to his guns and force the same old thing on us for the rest of the season. Then the Green Bay game happened, and it was so awful, he was forced to pull the trigger. Wade Phillips deserves some of the blame in this mess, he had lost his team. The defense, which was his responsibility as coordinator, had totally fallen apart. The problem here is that Wade was running the same things he's always run, and the Cowboys defense was really good in recent years. So a lot of the blame goes to players for not executing. Still, he was powerless to shake them out of the doldrums, so he had to go.
Big Blue View: Were you surprised at all by the choice of Jason Garrett, whose star really seems to have dimmed the past couple of seasons? Was this a case of 'he makes the money so he gets the job' or does Jerry Jones really think Garrett can do the job? Do you think Garrett can do anything w/the opportunity?
Blogging The Boys: I wasn't surprised at all. I had been writing about, and predicting it, for a couple of weeks. I think Jerry Jones has always been interested in what Jason Garrett could do as a head coach, and the opportunity presented itself this week. I'm not sure he would have hired Garrett if Wade had finished out the season and he was looking for a new coach in the 2011 offseason. But given where we are today, I think it was the right choice to make. I'm not sure how well Garrett will do, but I already like the change in demeanor, and hopefully the culture, around the Cowboys. Garrett's a no-nonsense guy who's not as friendly with the players as Phillips. Garrett's offense has been productive over the last few seasons (I'm throwing out 2010), so that gives me some hope.
Big Blue View: JJ will never really take any of the blame for the Cowboy meltdown, but from outside it seems pretty obvious a lot of it lands at his doorstep. From here, it seems like the biggest obstacle to the Cowboys being what Jones thinks they should be -- and fans think they should be -- is Jones' ego. Give me a reaction to that statement?
Blogging The Boys: Sure, Jerry Jones deserves some of the blame. He's the GM/Owner and is heavily involved in all the decisions made by the Cowboys. There's no way around giving him some blame here. But when it comes down to it, it's the players who are at fault. This was a playoff team last year and one on an upward trajectory, and they fell apart. I can't lay all of that at Jerry's doorstep. He does a lot of great things for the organization and really cares about what happens with the Cowboys. Would I like him to step back and hire a GM? You bet'cha. But that isn't going to happen, so we'll see what the future holds for us.
Big Blue View: Forgetting the management side, what are you seeing on the field that are the biggest issues the Cowboys have to address?
Blogging The Boys: The Cowboys are a very undisciplined football team. They make mental mistakes, they make physical mistakes. They accumulate penalties, they get out of gap responsibility on run defense, they play poor technique in the secondary, they have constant breakdowns on the offensive line. They are just fundamentally unsound. We know they have talent, essentially the same team has won in previous season. Oh yeah, there's that Tony Romo thing, too. Thanks, Giants!
My take: I have to jump in here while Dave is thanking us for the Romo injury, and remind Dave that it was Flozell Adams of the Cowboys who caused Justin Tuck to wind up playing with one arm last season thanks to his dirty tactics. Payback, my friend, payback.
Big Blue View: Let's play a little over/under. Halfway through and the Cowboys are 1-7. If I put the over/under at four wins for the season which would you take and why?
Blogging The Boys: With such a small sample (eight games), I feel like pulling a Micheal Wilbon and going for a push at four games as the win total. But, I'm a fan first, and I'm generally an optimist. So I'm going with a 5-11 (or better) season.