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5 Downs with Blogging the Boys

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 10:  A Dallas Cowboys cheerleader performs at Cowboys Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 10: A Dallas Cowboys cheerleader performs at Cowboys Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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David, from the Cowboys' SBNation blog Blogging The Boys, took some time this week to answer a few questions I had for him.

APC: Jon Kitna looked decent when replacing an injured Tony Romo against the Giants, but he dropped a nice big steamer last week against the Jaguars, with four INTs. What are your expectations for Kitna the rest of the way until (unless?) Romo returns from injury?

David: Actually, Kitna didn't play that badly against the Jaguars. Two of those interceptions were the receivers fault, Kitna hit them in the hands, they didn't catch it but tipped it up in the air right to the Jaguars defenders. Watching the game, Kitna clearly wasn't the issue in the Jaguars loss. If the offensive line can give Kitna time, he can do some things from the QB position. The problem is: We have so many problems in other areas that it might not matter how well Kitna plays. For now, he's adequate as a backup and could win some games if he could get some help from the rest of the team.

APC: Clearly, the Dallas coaching staff doesn’t trust the running game. They threw the ball 49 times last week, while Romo threw at least 30 passes in each game before his injury, including three games of 45+ pass attempts. Why has the running game has struggled to get going all season, despite the presence of three talented running backs?

David: We just completed a three-part series on why our running game is failing. In short, the offensive line is not blocking the running game well and we've been dealing with injuries along the line all season. Left guard Leonard Davis has had a terrible season. We're also not busting off any long runs (10 yards or more). We've just had a total collapse in our running game, most of it centered around the offensive line, both from poor play and injuries. If you want more in-depth info, read the series about our run game: Part I, Part II, Part III.

APC: Rookie wideout Dez Bryant appears to be growing into a bigger part of the offense as the season goes along. What are his strengths and weaknesses and how do you see his performance progressing the rest of this year and over the next few years?

David: Dez Bryant is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dark season for Dallas. Bryant has all the tools for a star wide receiver. He has enormous hands that grab almost anything thrown his way. He doesn't drop much and he's made some spectacular catches already this season. He's also a great yards-after-catch guy. He has good moves to shake a defender, but he also has the power to get physical and run over a defender. We're expecting Bryant to become an elite receiver down the line, in the next few years he should be a guy opposing defenses fear and gameplan for, it's just a matter of time for him to mature as an NFL receiver.

APC: The Dallas defense has not performed up to its normal standards, especially in the running game. What reasons can you identify for why this is the case?

David: Undisciplined play. Guys are not keeping to their assignments, they're gambling too much and we've been especially vulnerable to cut-back runs. We're also getting poor play from our safeties, so when runners get past the initial wave of defenders, they're free to gain the big yards. Offenses are keying on double-teaming nose tackle Jay Ratliff, and if they can get him block, everything opens up for the run game. Oh yeah, we're exhibiting terrible tackling form, too. It's just a mess.

APC: If I’m looking for a relatively unknown Cowboys player, who should I be watching for and why?

Watch for free safety Alan Ball, and I don't mean that in a good way. He's been getting beat all year long, he's just not playing like a starting safety. If I was the Packers, I'd be attacking the middle of the field in the passing game. Our inside linebackers aren't the best in pass coverage, and Ball has looked lost out there all season long.


Thanks to David for his insight.