Although much-discussed in the offseason and sometimes maligned, the Cowboys offensive line has played well when they've had their starting five on the field together. Romo has only been sacked once on the season and last week against the Texans there was nary a hint of pressure on him. The Cowboys line is great at picking up a standard pass rush and will usually dominate if a team only brings four rushers. They struggle when teams run blitzes, especially delayed or well-disguised blitzes, or when teams run stunts and other tricky calls. If a defense is creative and aggressive, they'll fare better. Other things have also helped the Cowboys line in not giving up sacks; mainly Romo's ability to sense and elude pressure then throw accurately while on the move. Also, Romo seems to be getting the ball out very quickly this year, he has a lot of talent at wide receiver/tight end and is finding open targets.
Is Jason Witten healthy? How has he been playing this season?
Jason Witten is fully healthy this week, the bye week really helped with him and a few other players. He's mostly played just as he always, which is elite level. Many people don't realize how good Witten is in the blocking part of his duties. The guy is a superior run-blocker. Of course, though, he makes his money in the receiving department, and he's been doing what he always does, and that's getting open. He hasn't had a dominant game this year, but he's still the second-most targeted receiver on the team and has the second-most catches (behind Miles Austin in both categories).
Wade Phillips seems to be on the hot seat every season. How secure was his job heading into the season? Is there a magic number in wins or round of the playoffs this team needs to get to for Phillips to keep his job?
His job was really secure heading into the season, Jerry Jones had just given him an extension. But, with Jerry Jones, if you're not winning big then you're on the hot seat. And the start of this season was definitely not winning big. Unless this Cowboys team really tanks the regular season, Wade will definitely last this year. As for a magic number in the playoffs, hard to say because you have to have the context of what happens in the playoffs. He does need to win in the playoffs though, and he needs to leave the impression that he took this team to its fullest potential, or the whispers will start.
Do you think your run defense will be able to hold up against Chris Johnson?
I do, mainly because the Cowboys defense has been so good against the run over the last few years. Now we did get gashed by Arian Foster last game, but other than that it had been 21 straight games since a back had topped the century mark on the Dallas defense. OLB Anthony Spencer plays the run extremely well, and ILBs Bradie James and Keith Brooking do a very nice job in patrolling the middle on runs. Johnson's speed and ability to bounce a run outside are dangerous things, the Cowboys defense is aggressive so they can sometimes over-pursue, if they get ahead of themselves and let Johnson cut back or bounce outside, they could have a lot of trouble. But if they play under control while still being aggressive, they should be all right.
Write the headline in Monday's Tennessean.
Titans Toppled In Texas 24-14; Cowboys Smothering Defense Key To Game
Head over to BTB to see his questions with my answers.