If you haven’t heard, the Rams have ruled quarterback Sam Bradford out for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys in Dallas. His ankle just didn’t respond to treatment quite as well as they hoped, so AJ Feeley will get the nod under center. Here is my conversaition with Cowboys writer Steven Mullenax about Sunday’s game.
1. Give us an injury update for Sunday. I believe Felix Jones has been ruled out, so who else might not suit up?
G Derrick Dockery, DE Jason Hatcher, and RB Felix Jones have all been ruled out officially. K David Buehler, G Kyle Kosier, LB DeMarcus Ware have all been listed as questionable. But all three were limited in practice this week but are expected to play. Keep in mind, Ware hasn’t missed a game in seven years, and played through this back injury last week.
2. DeMarco Murray was a guy I really liked coming out of college, and I actually lobbied for the Rams to draft him. It sounds like he will be seeing plenty of time on Sunday, so what are his strengths and weaknesses as a running back?
It would have made sense for the Rams to draft Murray, being a former 4 year teammate and close friend of Sam Bradford. But the Cowboys believe they got quite a steal in this year’s draft. The third round pick is a big back who is a great north-south runner. He’s got excellent hands and is a receiving threat out of the backfield. Pass blocking and durability are his biggest question marks.
3. Give us a rundown on Tony Romo. I’m personally a big fan with him being an Eastern Illinois alum, but he takes a ton of criticism in the national media. What are some things he does really well, and where does he struggle?
Romo is a play-maker and a risk-taker. He grew up idolizing Brett Favre and his playing style emulates that. Romo is growing stronger as a leader but still makes the mistakes you’d expect a gunslinger to make. He has handled the media pressure well and continues to be highly respected within the locker room. The only cure for Romo’s problems is winning. If we can go deep into the playoffs in the next couple years, he’ll be put up on the same pedestal as Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, despite his infamous mistakes.
4. It sounds like the Cowboys have been struggling a bit on the offensive side of the ball, so what are the problems and how are they going to be fixed?
The Cowboys biggest struggle is running the ball. This problem feeds into all the other problems and is the main reason we are 2-3. There are three reasons for this: (1) A young offensive line. (2) A starting running back who is better at being a complementary back. (3) The lack of a “true” fullback. Problem #1 just takes time. But the offensive line gets better from week to week. the recent loss of G Bill Nagy enhances the problem a bit, but former Cowboy Montrae Holland has been brought back to fill his role and brings a bit more experience within the system. Problem #2 has solved itself. Felix Jones is injured…again. His absence opens the door for Rookie DeMarcus Murray. If Murray can do well, he could replace Jones and fill that need immediately. And Problem #3 will be solved this week with the return of FB Tony Fiammetta. Fiammetta, whose has been out for two weeks with a hamstring injury, was signed right after the season started and contributed to the Cowboys’ two best running games so far this year. His return means bigger holes for Murray to run through.
5. What’s your take on the Dallas defense? They seem like a pretty solid group to me, but they don’t seem to get much recognition.
This is the best defense Dallas has had in a long time. The Cowboys have been a threat in every game this year mainly because of Rob Ryan’s defense. And since the NFL Lockout delayed the implementation of Ryan’s new defense schemes, the players are still learning the new system. It’s very much like on-the-job training out there. And here’s the scary thing: They are getting better every week.
6. Give us a prediction for the game on Sunday and for the Cowboys season as a whole. I had them in the NFC title game before the season started, but I might have to rethink it after their slow start.
Dallas should win this one big, but they also have the tendency to shoot themselves in the foot and keep the games way too close. And don’t forget about RB Steven Jackson. The last time we played him, back in 2008, he ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns in a Ram victory. But this ain’t the same defense. Here’s the score: Dallas 34, St. Louis 24.
The NFC East is unexpectedly weak this year. Dallas has every chance to win the division and get into the playoffs. I think they will. Now, what they do in the playoffs is up in the air. It just depends on how their playing at the time.
Topics: AJ Feeley, AJ Feeley Starting Sunday, Bradford Ankle Injury, Bradford Out Sunday, Brett Favre, Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, DeMarcus Ware, Felix Jones, NFC East, NFC West, NFL Week 7, Roger Staubach, St. Louis Rams, Steven Jackson, Steven Mullenax, Tony Romo, Troy Aikman