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Cowboys vs. Bills: 5 Questions with Buffalo Rumblings

It’s time for 5 Questions; this week’s edition is with Brian at Buffalo Rumblings. My questions and Brian’s answers are below. You can find my answers to his questions, here.

Blogging The Boys: Trent Edwards looked very good last week against the Jets. What do you know about him? Could there be a QB controversy?

Buffalo Rumblings: Take Edwards' debut success with a grain of salt - I'm pretty sure the Jets' defense could make Trent Dilfer look good, and that guy is just awful.  But here's the deal on Edwards: the kid, straight up, can just play.  He's smart, he's decisive, he's quick to deliver the ball, and in general he makes good decisions.  He's very accurate - something we only get from J.P. Losman on the long ball.  He still has some pocket awareness issues, and it's a bit nerve-racking when he's asked to buy time for himself - but maybe that's just because I'm used to watching the more-agile Losman under center.

There is a growing contingent of Bills fans who are calling for Edwards to start, but I'm not among them - for better or worse, 2007 is the Year of Losman.  The team really, really, really needs to play Losman as much as possible to finally figure out if he's "the guy" - and I think that's exactly what Dick Jauron will do.  So yes, there's a controversy, but I don't think that controversy extends beyond the fan base.

BTB: Marshawn Lynch looks like the real deal. He does a lot of things well. Talk about him and how excited Bills fans are about him.

BR: Other than perhaps Edwards, Marshawn is the most popular player in Buffalo right now.  We spent three years watching Willis McGahee run - and for all the talent that guy has, he never gave it his all in Buffalo.  He was a dancer, he never hit the hole hard, and his pass blocking was atrocious.  Marshawn is exactly the opposite - he runs hard, fighting for every inch possible on every run.  He's still having issues with pass blocking, but it's getting better on a weekly basis.  And boy, when Lynch gets in open space, he is tough to bring down due to his agility and power.  As soon as our offensive coordinator, Steve Fairchild, realizes that he can use Lynch in the passing game too (Coach Fairchild is a little slow on the uptake sometimes), Marshawn will be considered one of the best all-around backs in the league.

BTB: Give us the injury report. Who's in and who's out, and how much of a problem is it for the team right now.

BR: As it stands right now, five players have not practiced at all this week and are likely out for the game: QB J.P. Losman, DE Ryan Denney, LB Coy Wire, CB Ashton Youboty and S Jim Leonhard.  Other than Denney, all of those players were starters at one point this season.  Factor in other big-time losses (LB Paul Posluszny, CB Jason Webster, S Ko Simpson and, of course, TE Kevin Everett), and it's been a ridiculously difficult year for the Bills injury wise.  We have 7 players on IR, and another could be joining them soon (LB Kevin Harrison).  It's made it very difficult to even field a competitive team, yet alone keep games competitive.

Not all the news is bad, however - it seems likely that one starter, LB Keith Ellison, will be returning this week, and Denney is on his way.  DE Anthony Hargrove just finished up a 4-game suspension and will likely suit up as well - so, for the first time this season, we may have a little defensive depth for a game.

BTB: What's up with the defense? They've been giving up a lot of yards. Is it just the injuries, or do you have major issues at certain positions just because of lack of talent?

BR: It's injuries.  When you lose six defensive starters, you're losing talent - and we've had to replace it with inexperienced depth and street free agents to this point.  It doesn't help when we've faced the second (NE), fifth (DEN) and seventh (PIT) rated offenses in the NFL over the first four weeks, either.  Granted, our defensive outlook was pretty bleak all off-season, so while those points are valid, they're certainly not excuses.  For all the trouble we've had, the team is still only giving up 23 points per game - a relatively low number compared to the 148 rushing and 283 receiving yards we're giving up per game.  The defense also plays better at home, where we've given up just 29 of the 93 points opponents have scored on us.

BTB: What's the game plan for the Bills to pull the upset?

BR: The obvious plan is to keep the ball out of Tony "Four to Five Touchdowns Per Game" Romo's hands as much as possible.  Trent Edwards will need to be precise on third downs to sustain drives, and we'll be leaning heavily on Lynch to move the chains as well.  Dallas is missing Anthony Henry this week, however, so it's likely we'll take a few shots downfield as well - we need to score points, but this can't become a track meet.

Dallas is going to score points, but at the very least we can make them earn it.  Eliminate the long passes to TO and Jason Witten and make Romo earn his yards the old-fashioned way (i.e. dink and dunk).  There will be some pressure on our great duo of returners (Terrence McGee on kicks, Roscoe Parrish on punts) to create short fields for the offense, and P Brian Moorman will need to create long fields for Romo and the offense.

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