What has been the biggest difference between Bills Parcells' Cowboys team and the Wade Phillips version?
Roy Philpott: Dallas gave up more than 400 yards and 30 points a game in each of its last four games in 2006 so there were some needed adjustments made this offseason with the new staff. The expectation was Phillips would bring a more aggressive 3-4 scheme with him from San Diego and we are starting to see that through the first five games. After giving up 35 points to the Giants in the season opener, the Cowboys' defense reduced that number in each of the following three weeks (20 at Miami, 10 at Chicago and just seven against St. Louis). The Buffalo game was different as the Bills scored two touchdowns on interceptions and another one on a kickoff return. The bottom line here is using players like DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, Dallas is starting to figure out ways to get more pressure on the quarterback and that was one of the reasons Jerry Jones hired Phillips in the first place- he has experience in the 3-4 and he's known for getting pressure on the quarterback. Of course, that will obviously be a critical component Sunday against Tom Brady and Patriots.
RP: Honestly, Garrett has been a breath of fresh air. He's given Romo more confidence by allowing him to more of what he does best- scramble around and make plays. If you ask Garrett, he'll tell you the first thing he wants to do is establish the run with the two-headed monster in the backfield of Marion Barber and Julius Jones, but the strength of this team is its passing game and he's done an excellent job of calling the right plays at the right time with all of his weapons- Romo, Barber, Jones, T.O., Jason Witten and even Patrick Crayton. It's also important to point out the play of the Cowboys' offensive line has been much improved this season, and that includes the play of newly signed guard Leonard Davis. Garrett has also simplified what Dallas likes to do on offense. As he told TheRanchReport.com this offseason, "You've got to be careful that you're not doing a lot of things, schematically, that you're not very good at. I have that high standard for execution. I'd rather we do a few things very well than do a lot of things, but not do them very well."
What is the sentiment of the team after their improbable win over the Bills? Did they expect to win, or they relieved they didn't lose?
RP: I think it is somewhat obvious they expected to win that game. Did they expect to win in the manner in which they did? No. It's not often you win a game in which your quarterback turns the ball over six times- especially on the road. That just doesn't happen. If anything I think Monday night's win gives this team more confidence because the players feel as though they win any type of game in a variety of different ways. We've seen the Cowboys' offense, led by Tony Romo, win a few games this season, and we've also seen the defense take over and steal the show. After Monday's win over Buffalo, even the Dallas special teams can get the job done - two 53-yard field goals and a perfectly executed onside kick in the last 20 seconds of the game. Also, don't forget about punter Mat McBriar- the guy had one of the best seasons in NFL history last year and is off to a strong start this season as well.
How have injuries impacted the team?
RP: Significantly. Sure, it's hard to complain when you are 5-0, but the loss of Jason Ferguson (biceps) at nose tackle in week one will impact the team throughout the season and the early injury to Pro Bowl corner Terence Newman has also been difficult to overcome. Dallas went out and signed suspended defensive lineman Tank Johnson as a result of the loss of Ferguson and Jay Ratliff has filled admirably in the short term, but this be concern for a team that must have a run-stuffing nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme.
Bill Parcells' struggles with place kickers is well known, especially after last season. What is it that Nick Folk brings to the table that an experienced kicker didn't?
RP: Leg strength. Folk had an impressive performance at the NFL combine- demonstrating solid accuracy and range on field goals and kickoffs. While it was surprising to see Dallas use a sixth round draft pick (178 overall) on a kicker, he's already proven to be a quality pick up after drilling a 53-yard field goal (twice) to beat the Bills Monday night. He has range up to 55 yards and consistently gets his kickoffs close to the goal line. At this point the Cowboys couldn't ask any more of him.
Over/ Under: Pats vs Cowboys