Blogging The Boys is one of the best NFL sites on SB Nation. I had the chance to ask their editor, David Halprin, 5 questions about the Cowboys. He did the same, and my answers are posted over at Blogging The Boys.
Brandon: I read a comment recently that the Cowboys pass defense has been playing better in recent weeks, but then I look back two weeks ago and saw that QB Matt Hasselbeck had a pretty good game against them. Are they having problems with their pass rush or pass coverage? Or have there been signs of improvement?
David: Hasselbeck didn’t have that good of a game. He threw for under 250 yards and had 2 TDs, but one of them was in garbage time after the outcome was pretty much decided. They also passed a lot because the running game was weak, so he had a lot of attempts but not a great yards per attempt average.
The pass defense has improved as the year has gone on, part of the reason is the pass rush has come on strong after a slow start. We sacked Hasselbeck three times and got McNabb three times, plus a whole lot of pressures. In addition, CB Mike Jenkins is really starting to play well, and having Gerald Sensabaugh back from injury helps solidify the safety position. After a very bad start on defense, the Cowboys have been steadily improving each week.
Brandon: What's the over/under on sacks of QB Aaron Rodgers? Who's do you expect to be lining up over the left tackle? (He should expect to have 2 to 5 sacks in this game).
David: I’ll let you guys set the over/under on sacking Rodgers, you have much more experience watching Green Bay’s offense. I will say the Cowboys have been getting a very good pass rush recently and sacks are a big part of the defensive game-plan. Wade Phillips is a "pressure" defensive coordinator. The Cowboys will flip-flop DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer depending on strong and weak-side formations, but sometimes if they find Ware is winning a particular battle consistently, they leave him in place. If LT is your weakness, then I’m sure the Cowboys will try to get Ware that matchup as often as possible.
Brandon: Patrick Crayton should have a good game returning punts against the Packers' awful punt and kick coverage, but how about Felix Jones? Will it be Jones having a big day on kick returns or will they hand those duties off to Kevin Ogletree?
David: We’ll have to see but it looks like the Cowboys want to get Kevin Ogletree involved more. Last week we saw him catching a few screens and other short patterns and this week, he and Tashard Choice might be the guys on kick returns. At this point were not sure.
Brandon: In the last two weeks, the Packers have allowed 5 TD passes in the red zone. Who is the Cowboys best receiving option in the red zone?
David: Before the emergence of Miles Austin, a lot of the Cowboys TDs were coming by way of the running backs. A lot of the time on the ground. The Cowboys modus operandi seems to be spread the ball around and hit big plays in the passing game for TDs, but when in close try to use the backs and the offensive line’s size. So really, there isn’t a top target in the redzone. Miles Austin has the bulk of the receiving TDs, but a lot of his scores have come from long-range.
Brandon: It appears that Andre Gurode and Ken Hamlin will play on Sunday. Are there any other notable injuries? Or anyone else playing through them?
David: Right now, the only guy not expected to play is return-specialist Allen Rossum, who we signed mid-season but immediately got injured and has been out for a few weeks. Other than that, we’re pretty healthy.