The Dallas Cowboys are underdogs heading into this matchup for very good reasons. You know them, I know them, and the entire NFL world knows them.
And some probably believe that the talent differential is so great that Dallas has no chance, no matter what.
And that, I couldn’t disagree with more.
All of us who have watched NFC East football over a span of many years are familiar with the cliché, "You can just throw the records out when these two meet."
So why is that?
It’s emotion. And it’s preparation. You know your opponents within your division. And you have enough negative history to make a serious revalry.
Well Dallas has had all summer to get to know the Buccaneer’s schemes.
The question is, will enough defensive players play angry?
Imagine for a moment that Tom Brady had come out and said that Dallas’ front seven had ugly wives and girlfriends and the reason their significant others were so homely was that they were soft men, incapable of having a real impact in an NFL game. And then he doubled down and compared their girlfriends to donkeys, chimpanzees and Pit bulls.
Can you honestly say that such inflammatory trash talk wouldn’t raise the effort level of the entire defense, but especially the front seven? Would you want to bet significant money that Brady wouldn’t be knocked on his ass repeatedly throughout the game?
I’m old enough to remember Lawrence Taylor in his prime. He played nearly every game like the opposition had insulted him to that degree. For him, it was all out war.
All of this is simply to make that point that there is a way to overcome the talent differential.
If Quinn and his staff could get it in their players heads that Brady expects to humiliate them on Thursday night and given the chance, that is exactly what he will do--and if he does that, he will be stealing money from them as well, because everything that happens on the field goes into contract negotiations---if Quinn could really get his players committed to being blood-thirsty and furious in their pursuit of victory on Thursday, I think the talent differential could be overcome. I do.
It don’t know if Quinn is capable of this and I don’t know if these players have enough fire in themselves to get into the state they need to be in and remain in that state throughout the game.
Maybe Micah Parsons has the stuff, but I don’t know about the others. I think Gregory could be coached up to that level of intensity, because he’s in a contract year. Same for Dorance Armstrong. Urban and Watkins are one-year "rentals," so perhaps they could also be stoked up by the right coaching as well.
Tampa has the talent advantage. But, coming off a dream season, there is no way they can match the hunger and the anger that Dallas could bring---if the coaches and the players are capable of going there.
Thursday night will tell us a great deal about what Quinn and his staff are capable of doing with this roster.