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Big Boss' Blast: Week 9

By Tony Peralez

So the Cowboys have done it once again and racked up another “w” Sunday. I’m going to re-cap much quicker this week because I personally feel next week’s match up is more interesting than the victory over the Seahawks. So buckle up folks because you’re reading this week’s Big Boss Blast!

As expected, the Seahawks defense caved underneath the cannon Tony Romo has been flaunting as of late. I am most impressed with his genuine ability to spread the ball around the field. Most fans are used to seeing Romo fire off to his favorite target Jason Witten, open or not, but that hasn’t been the case these past 3 wins. Romo has effectively gotten the ball out to different receivers on many different occasions displaying a real proof of maturity. Romo hit 10 different receivers Sunday and threw 3 touchdown passes: one to Williams, Austin, and Sam Hurd.

The Seahawks didn’t play terrible this week, the Cowboys just played better. You saw some decent action from Matt Hasselbeck and Julius Jones but not much else. I was actually a tad bit worried about the difficulty the Cowboys had with stopping Jones. That aside, the boys on defense really deterred a decent Seahawks' offense.

The Seahawks are a team with a great receiving core but as you saw on Sunday they weren’t exactly used. You can’t win games without running a balanced offense and the Seahawks are definitely not that. They have the talent and ability but until they patch up their holes in their offensive line, they will continue to be an afterthought.

ON TO PHILLY! This past week the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the New York Giants in a 17-40 win at the Linc. The speed of the Eagles defense got in Eli Manning’s head early and stayed there the rest of the game. Manning threw 20-39 for 222 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.

The bigger story of the day wasn’t the lack of production from the Giants offense, but the cache of big plays made by Donovan McNabb and the Eagles offense. On the third play of the game, fullback Leonard Weaver popped one off for 41 yards and a touchdown for Philly. That set the pace for the rest of the game unfortunately for the Giants. Philly scored on big plays from both of their running backs and of course another 50 yard-plus touchdown pass from McNabb to mutant wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

This week’s match up bothers me a little bit and I’ll tell you why. The only 2 losses the Cowboys currently have are from teams that they should have beat (New York Giants and The Denver Broncos). Both of these games were not won by the opposition, but rather given up by the Cowboys.

In the home opener against the Giants the Cowboys defense let several big plays elude them as well as giving away touchdown drives due to penalties and a talented young wide receiver in Mario Manningham (Thanks Flozell and Bobby Carpenter).

When playing at the Denver Broncos, the Cowboys were playing well and could see a victory or at least competing for one in overtime. Instead they let Big Brandon Marshall grab a last minute catch and watched him run around defenders and into the end zone with seconds left in the 4th quarter.

Now stay with me here folks I have a valid point and I’m just about to get to it. It’s pretty simple really. The Cowboys are vulnerable to the “big play”; at least they were in the earlier weeks of the season. Their only 2 loses are due solely to that. One could argue the defense couldn’t prevent the losses because the offense couldn’t stay on the field long enough to give the defense a break. That aside the defense should still be able to come up with big stops when the team needs them to.

Ok back on track; the Eagles just beat the Giants because of their ability to make big plays happen and not just at the end of the game, but for all 4 quarters. The Eagles, just like the Cowboys, have become incredibly efficient in utilizing all of their receiving options making it more difficult to key in on any one person specifically. With a fantastic tight end in Brent Celek, monster speedsters in Jackson and young gun Jeremy Maclin, and soft handed running backs, Philly’s offense is pretty stacked. It’s no wonder this team is able to create big plays all day.

This week expect defense to be the real competing cornerstone for the Cowboys. Sure the offense will have it’s hands full and Romo will have to continue to be efficient and stay away from turning the ball over, but he clearly can’t do those things if the defense can’t get the Philly O off of the field. Austin will continue to pull coverage this week and allow Williams to get a few more targets and catches but I see my boy Austin coming up with the big plays for the 4th week in a row. Even at worst case scenario, Austin will continue to shred defenses and attract attention that’ll keep Romo generous in distributing the ball.

My defensive rising star, Mike Jenkins, will have to continue to play incredibly hard D and keep his receivers locked down all day Sunday. More than likely he will be pressed on Maclin for the better part of the game and Terrance Newman will be locked on Jackson. I’m worried about the Jackson match up most of all. Newman likes to play softer coverage on the speedier receivers which could become a big problem early. Jackson runs great slants and sharp go routes that could prove difficult for Newman to press him hard. Strong safety Pat Watkins will have to be ready to roll over the top to the strong side where you’ll find Celek and Jackson both.

Defense will have to be ready for sure. Philly can credit it’s high flying win against New York to film and coaching. The Eagles were able to exploit New York’s cover 2 holes as well as give Jackson option routes to break free when he was man-covered. You can expect them to study the Dallas Defense just as meticulously. That being said, Dallas will have to be in McNabb’s face all day, keeping him from gaining any sort of momentum.

The defensive front will be weak for the Cowboys if potential pro bowler Jay Ratliff doesn’t recover from his sprained knee injury. This truly is a game where the ‘Boys can’t afford to play without him.

As for the offense, Romo knows what he has to do and was quoted earlier this week feeling incredibly different in the pocket, knowing better what he had to do rather than just throw and hope. I commend the man for admitting his flawed game play and getting better. He not only has he demonstrated an improved practice in his arm but also in the way he thinks and looks on the field. So long as the talented Mr. Romo hits targets well and doesn’t force anything, I think this game is going to be in heated competition for 4 quarters straight.

One more thing before this is done, the ever important run game. I don’t talk much about it because we all know how well it operates. Felix Jones has been running well and smart and is staying healthy. Marion Barber is staying fresh and running as hard as ever and I love all the 3rd down carries that Tashard Choice is getting. Good job coaches for developing a dichotomy that continues to flourish out of the backfield. This will be incredibly important for the Cowboys to utilize in order to keep that Philly defense guessing. Controlling the clock with these 3 monsters will definitely keep the moment in the hands of the blue and silver.

So there it is kids. Sunday night is the night to be off and in front of a flat screen somewhere. At 7 o’clock, on NBC, look for the ‘Boys to hopefully play harder than they’ve played all season. It’ll be a good game and neither team will be backing down. I’ll eat my hat if that’s the case. Enjoy the week and the game and as the wise Grayson Hamilton always says, “Make good choices.”

One more thing: LEAVE ROY WILLIAMS ALONE PEOPLE! The man is the best blocking wide receiver this team has seen and all anyone can do is rail him for not getting more targets and catches. The run game wouldn’t be what it is without him regardless of how active he is in the pass game. He’s getting more grabs and even had a touchdown this week so I think the critics just need to cool it on give ole number 11 such a hard time!

-Big Boss

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