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Cowboys News & Notes: Romo's Ribs, And Finding A Way To The Playoffs

It's looking like all hands on deck in Dallas with the team in the stretch run.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Romo: Talk of my rib injury ‘got blown out of proportion’ | Dallas Morning News

Tony Romo raised a few eyebrows after the Cowboys' win over the Chicago Bears by casually mentioning that he was playing through broken ribs. That was news to everyone, and also could indicate a possible violation of league policy on injury reporting. The new explanation is that Romo chose his words poorly.

"I think everything got blown out of proportion with just talking about injuries and such after the game," Romo said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. "I've been asked a little bit about the rib stuff. It's just cartilage that you end up having issues with really for your career.

"When you go through and you have stuff happen when you're younger, they just kind of pop up from time to time as you get older. You kind of deal with those things."

Jason Garrett added that the team had explained what was really going on, and that it seems like a "non issue".

Cowboys Can’t Rely On A Wild Card Spot " CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Put simply, the only guaranteed way to get to the playoffs is to win the next three games, making the Cowboys the NFC East champs.

Sure, much can change on the wild card front between now and the end of the season, but wrestling the NFC East away from the Eagles is the only surefire way for the Cowboys to control their own destiny.

If you want to know all the permutations that could get Dallas to the playoffs, this is about as good a way to sort it out as I have seen:

Bob Sturm: Decoding Linehan: How Cowboys have stolen gameplan from 1992 | Dallas Morning News

The Sturminator outlines the successful gameplan that the Cowboys took into Soldier Field, and it does sound familiar.

Dallas ran 33 run plays (plus 2 knees) for 5.93 yards per carry. They dominated the clock and their opponent. This keeps the large offensive line on the field and the vulnerable defense off of it. This also allows your QB - with his health questions and all - from having to throw 40 passes for 350 yards. Instead, an efficient 26 or 28 for about 200 efficient yards with a number of play-action throws into barren secondaries.

He also mentions this in conjunction with how successful the team has been on the ground.

The offensive line is not only excellent at their job, but they are also staying healthy.  Well, that is a tough term to define, because I am sure that a few of them have been dealing with some real issues, but the point is that they have all played virtually all of the season.

To define that, we take the ideal offensive line (Smith-Leary-Frederick-Martin-Free) and multiply the number of games by the number of spots (13×5=65) and then subtract each missed start to arrive at a 95.3% attendance rate.

Dominating line play leading which leads to a highly effective run game. That is what the team was doing earlier in the season. And it also reaches back further.

Cowboys call on old, successful formula - ESPN Dallas

Apparently, in addition to being a very good quarterback, Romo is something of a student of the game.

To Romo, what the Cowboys did against the Chicago Bears last week -- a 41-28 win -- was Cowboys, circa 1995. 

"This was a little bit like the old Cowboys in that you can throw it and run it," Romo said. "Throw it a little bit more earlier and then late you can kind of hand off and get a lot of your carries that way. That was a good design."

Cowboys line closer to normal versus Bears - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas

The offensive line is certainly the key to everything when Dallas has the ball. The linemen themselves feel that they were not up to their own standards against the Eagles on Thanksgiving, but that they were a lot better a week later.

"I think we're closer," center Travis Frederick said when asked if that was more like them. "I don't think we're there yet. But I think we're certainly closer. We just need to keep working on that and hopefully we can do something like that against Philly."

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on earlier loss to Philadelphia: "That game is done with. It ain’t coming back." | Dallas Morning News

Just about the entire team feels that they did not put a good effort on the field against the Eagles in the earlier game and look forward to a better performance this week. But in case you haven't noticed, the head coach is not big on looking back.

"That game is done with,'' Garrett said. "It's been done with. "It ain't coming back.

"The challenge ahead is what we're focused on.''

Jean-Jacques Taylor -- With division in the balance, Dallas Cowboys won't be blown out by Philadelphia Eagles this time - ESPN Dallas

In another surprising take on this season's version of the Cowboys, Taylor points to a couple of interesting reasons why he expects the rematch with Philly to be much different than the first game.

The core of this team remembers the butt-kickings it has absorbed over the past couple of years from the New Orleans SaintsSeattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears. It is certainly no coincidence the Cowboys have played their best games this season against those teams.

. . . The Eagles have a better defense and much better special teams, and the offenses are about the same. Part of the reason the Eagles blew out the Cowboys, if we're honest, is because the Eagles are probably one of the worst teams to play against on a short week because they play offense at warp speed.

A short week means dead legs most of the time. Dead legs against Philadelphia usually equals a blowout.

A chip on the shoulder and a chance to be fully prepared. Yeah, JJT doesn't think this is the same old Cowboys.

Eatman: Cowboys Can’t Use Seattle’s Blueprint to Beat Eagles; Need Their Own | Dallas Cowboys

Nick Eatman makes the seemingly obvious point that the Cowboys don't have the Seahawks' defense, and have to find a different way to do things. (However, a quick review of some of the things said on the interwebs will reveal that many people indeed think that Dallas just has to use Seattle's approach to win.)

The Cowboys can win this game, but they'll have to win it their way. And their way means the offensive line has to play 20 times better than it did two Thursdays ago. They've got to be the ones pushing people around up front.

They've got to get DeMarco Murray into the second level of the defense where he can get big chunks of yards. They've got to keep the pocket clean enough - and long enough - for Tony Romo to exploit that secondary. Dez has to be Dez-like and that wasn't the case on Thanksgiving.

As for Romo, I do think 10 days between games as opposed to four, will be a huge benefit this time around.

Garrett: DeMarco Murray not slowing down - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas

No one is talking about limiting Murray's carries anymore. It is time for everyone who wears the Star to go all in - and he has one of the biggest pile of chips at the table. The head coach knows.

"DeMarco is a guy who has shown he can handle the workload, both as a runner and a receiver," Garrett said. "He wants more. He never wants to come out of the game. At different times, we've done a good job of getting the other guys in there and they've taken advantages of their opportunities and we'll continue to do that, but he's a bellcow player and it doesn't look like he's slowing down at all to me. He feels great. He says he feels great and really looks like he's playing at a very high level."

Tony Romo: Dez Bryant is a team guy, it’s comical that some think his sideline behavior is negative | Dallas Morning News

Romo claims that he and the rest of the team can't understand why people react so negatively to the way Dez Bryant is on the sidelines.

"He's a passionate, emotional player and he gets that way during games. If you listen to the NFL Films on it, you'll understand real quick that he's yelling, but he's also saying, ‘We're the best! Let's go! Here we are! Me and you guys! Now and forever!' It's comical that it's all negative and weird to other people."


Just a couple of quick notes about the division rival in Washington. Things are not good up there.

London Fletcher rips Jim Haslett; coordinator responds -

The retired sixteen-year veteran was not pulling any punches about the current defensive coordinator.

"He is a guy that does not know what he is doing," Fletcher said. "And the Washington Redskins -- and (coach) Jay Gruden in particular -- better watch his back and get Jim Haslett out of the door ...Jay Gruden better get him out the door because he's probably back-stabbing Jay Gruden like he did everybody else -- like he did to Scott Linehan in St. Louis and like he did to Mike Shanahan in Washington...

"This is a guy that would take the '85 Bears and turn them into a mediocre defense," Fletcher said. "He is clueless. He has no idea what he is doing. Believe me, I had a front row seat for four years."

Meanwhile, the first year head coach is not having a very good time, it appears.

It is starting to look like the meltdown is just going to continue for the division rival. It should make you have a little appreciation for the job one Jerry Jones is doing.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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