Football analyst Bryan Broaddus tackles three pressing questions for the Cowboys as the team prepares to face the Bengals, a team they haven't played since 2008.
You've watched the tape on Doug Free for the last few weeks and you've seen Parnell play as well. Even though Free has struggled, do the Cowboys have any options to get better this year?
Broaddus: Parnell is an option but until you hear that he is splitting reps with Free at right tackle then this move will not happen. Coaches are creatures of habit in that they just don't like to make a lot of changes. In their view, they have seen Free play well at times and just not the four or five bad plays he has out of 65. They understand what they have in Parnell and in their eyes maybe they feel that he is not better than Free at this point. Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio show that there has been some technique issues with Free and he is not lying there from what I have seen on tape. Again, if we hear Parnell is getting work at right tackle, that will tell you the coaches would be ready to make that switch if necessary.
When you haven't faced a team since 2008, is it harder for the players, the coaches or the advanced scouts?
Broaddus: Great question, last week against the Eagles there is a sense of understanding of how that guy across from you was going to play against you. When you don't play a team but once every four years it's a difficult challenge but at times it can works both ways. The one advantage that both teams have is that the Cowboys know Terence Newman but he knows these Cowboys receivers. The advance scouts can paint you a picture of how the Bengals might attack because he has seen the most live looks but there is going to be a period early in the game where both teams are going to have to get use to the style and pace of the game, then things will settle down on both sides of the ball.
The Bengals seem to be playing solid on defense this year. What are your thoughts on former Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer?
Broaddus: I have always been a huge fan of Mike Zimmer from my days of working with him in Dallas but where he gained my most respect was when we went from a 4-3 defense that he had run the majority of his career to running a 3-4 for Bill Parcells. Zimmer had never had any experience in the 3-4 and there was not one day where he complained about having to make the switch. He just coached his rear off and made the transition as smooth as possible. Zimmer will not make this game easy for Jason Garrett because he will understand all the pressure points of this offense. He has a front that will cause problems similar to what the Cowboys faced against Tampa Bay with all the movement. Will be a strong test for this Cowboys offense.