I had the opportunity to talk Cowboys, Patriots and the NFL today on The Red Zone with Josh Bertaccini; a show on ESPN Radio Fayetteville's '92.1 The Ticket'.
We went over the general overview topics about the state of the Cowboys five weeks into the regular season. Instead of transcribing everything, I figured it would be a better look for you to hear it. We talked about several things Cowboys, then Josh asked me about my opinions on a couple of other Week Six matchups. If you can tolerate listening to me say "Umm" a few times and have 15 minutes of your life you won't miss much, take a listen.
Follow the jump for a collection of other things I've been thinking about as the Cowboys prepare for New England.
A lot of these are a few of the talking points I had jotted down as preparation for my time talking with Josh. Some of them go without saying for Cowboys fans in the know, but I felt were the relevant themes for this week's game.
- The Cowboys might be the healthiest at key positions (QB, RB, WR/T, OT, OLB, CB) they've been since the 2009 season.
- On their game-clinching scoring drive Sunday against the Jets, Tom Brady went across the middle to his TEs for huge gains. One to Gronkowski, next one to Hernandez. Later in the drive, a TE was able to cross the middle and force a pass interference penalty to put the ball inside the New York 10. Wes Welker lined up from a different position on the field on each play.
- The Patriots have scored 30 or more points in 13 straight games. The last man to slow them down was Rob Ryan, who coincidentally had two weeks to prepare for the Patriots when Cleveland held them down Week 9 last year.
- The Cowboys are moving DeMarcus Ware all over the field instead of primarily from the offenses' left, with a lot of pre-snap maneuvers to confuse the offense. This will be key against the Patriots. Their O-Line is playing well, but Connolly the center might be the weak link where pressure can disrupt Brady.
- Eric Mangini made a great point on the ESPN circuit about last year's Cleveland victory (he was the head coach above Rob Ryan's defense). As @jmateo69 tweeted me after also viewing the segment, "Mangini w/awesome brkdwn of rob vs pats 2010: 1. No ez pre-snap reads for tom 2. Jam receivers 3.Get Tom off his spot"
- The Cowboys are only giving up 62 yards per contest in the run game. Make the Patriots one-dimensional as teams simply stop trying to run on Dallas. Opponents rush less than 20 times a game, and for only a 3.1 yard average.
- The Patriots will be, by far, the best run-blocking team the Cowboys have faced this season. Not even close. BenJarvis Green-Ellis has five rushing scores, and rookie Stevan Ridley added another.
- The Cowboys are giving up 25 points per contest, but that's a misleading stat as far as their improved defense is concerned, seeing that the offense gifted the opponent 14 points to Detroit and 3 against the Jets, while the ST contributed another 7 points. Take those away and the D is actually only giving up 19 points per contest, which is good enough to win most every week if the offense can stop killing themselves.
- Three keys to Dallas winning the game. One turnover or less by the Cowboys offense, and none in the fourth quarter. Limit Tom Brady to 300 yards passing as the Raiders and Jets have done the last two weeks, but still remain stout in the run game. Score from outside the red zone.
- According to Pro Football Focus, Tyron Smith gave up one sack and six pressures through the first four games of the season.
- From BTB member CoachGary "O-Line will get much better with the stretch plays and zone blocking scheme."
- Watching parts of three Pats games, Tom Brady and OchoCinco looks eerily reminiscent of Romo and Roy Willy.
- Aaron Hernandez is back but didn't look himself at all last week although he played 65 of 81 snaps.
- Mark Anderson, their situational pass rusher is doing work, with 4 sacks in 102 snaps.
- Tom Brady and the Patriots have won 19 straight home games. Time to go streak-busting.