Football season is back! Along with it comes the weekly Sports Media 101 Insider Report. And this week, as the New York Giants head into a primetime match-up against their NFC East rival, the Dallas Cowboys, Giants 101 sat down with Nick Sharp of Cowboys 101 to discuss the game, injuries, Tony Romo and a variety of other topics.
How confident are the Cowboys in their new 3-4 to 4-3 with Tampa 2 defensive switch?
In a word, very. The Dallas defense has all the talent they need to be a top-10 group in 2013. Folks are worried about the injuries to Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer along the D-line, but this scheme should minimize the losses. As long as the Front 4 can simply occupy their man, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter will take care of the rest. If both players can stay healthy this year they will form one of the top 1-2 punches at LB in the game. Combine that with a healthy Demarcus Ware, more press coverage from the press-gifted Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr, and a renewed sense of urgency in the takeaway department, and the Dallas D should be the best unit we've seen in in the Metroplex in quite some time.
Truth be told, Rolle should be more worried about not letting Dez Bryant over the top with 16 seconds left for what would have been a game-winning score if not for a misplaced pinky finger than Witten's underneath dominance. 18 catches will likely never happen again, but if that's what the Giants give Romo and Co., that's what they'll take. Witten, who is entering his 11th year, has shown no signs of slowing down. The only reason Witten won't match his numbers from last year is due to the supernova-esque explosion of Dez Bryant as he becomes the best receiver in the NFL not named Megatron in 2013.
Tony Romo — Clutch? Elite? Neither?
Right now, the only realistic answer is neither. Elite QB's win Super Bowls. Romo hasn't done that. Clutch QB's get their teams into the playoffs during final week, winner-take-all showdowns. Romo is 0-2 in the last two seasons on that front. He's shown time and time again that he's good enough to get this team over the hump, it just hasn't happened. Whether it's his fault or not, Quarterbacks are the ones with the win-loss records. After Romo's mega-contract this offseason, we can only hope for the best.
Like the Giants, the Cowboys are riddled with injuries across the offensive line. What should we expect to see on Sunday night from them?
That's a good question. We often hear about the importance of continuity when it comes to O-Lines, but the Dallas group hasn't recorded any of that. At this point, we're not even sure of who will be starting. One projection (and seemingly the most likely one) would involve four guys who have never played an NFL game at their starting position (Leary LG, Frederick C, Free RG, Parnell RT; 3rd year LT Tyron Smith would be the only holdover from last season). We've heard good things about 2013 1st rounder Travis Frederick and he's been penciled in to start since day 1. The signing of Brian Waters should help a couple weeks down the road, but the performance of this unit in week 1 is anyone's guess.
The Cowboys win if…
They can get the ball to their playmakers. Miles Austin is as healthy as we've seen him in years. Dez Bryant is poised for a monster year and has the complete trust of his QB. Jason Witten is still one of the best safety valves in the league. If Dallas can get the running game on track, and in doing so the play-action passing game, the New York secondary won't be able to contain the Dallas skill players. It will be up to the offensive line to keep the "Big Blue Wrecking Crew" (or whatever you call those big ugly dudes up front) off of #9. If they can do that, look for Dallas to repeat last season's 1-0 start vs. the Giants.
Be sure to head over to Cowboys 101 to see their Insider Report and Q&A with Giants 101 editor, Dan Benton.
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