IRVING, Texas – Trying to answer as much of your feedback as possible, here are three questions I've been seeing and reading a lot since the Cowboys' loss to the Eagles on Sunday.
1. Is Tyrone Crawford playing poorly?
One of the great advantages that I have over the normal fan is that I get to sit down and study the same tape the coaches and scouts watch every day. On that tape I pick up things that you do get, say, from watching the game on television or even in person.
Crawford plays a very important position on this defense as the under-tackle or three-technique. Traditionally in this scheme it is an up field, penetrating style of player. Guys like Warren Sapp, John Randle and now Gerald McCoy have all played the position and played it very well.
To be honest, I would not say that Crawford's complete skillset is like any of these players I have mentioned. He is a more powerful player, but he doesn't show that initial burst or quickness. His quickness is really different because it is from a power standpoint. Sapp, Randle and McCoy all beat blockers on that first step, which Crawford struggles with at times. With these under-tackles it's really about the get-off, and that is where Crawford is going to need to improve.
I believe what the Cowboys are betting on here is that Crawford continues to grow into the position. They see a relentless player with an outstanding work ethic. Rod Marinelli talks about a "Unique Ability" with him, and that's what they see him of him in the future. He has been very close this season to getting those sacks and in time I agree with the staff – they will come.
2. Can Tony Romo help this defense?
That's not funny at all. This defense hasn't been playing that poorly, but if you remember last season they were not exposed to as many plays as they have been this year.
Last season the offense ran ball the ball well with DeMarco Murray, time of possession was positive and Tony Romo was able to finish drives with points. If there's one positive during this losing streak, it's that the offense is running the ball better, and when Romo does return to the lineup – they are likely to be able to finish those drives with touchdowns.
This defense was built to play with a lead and not when even or behind – having Romo back in the lineup will help with that tremendously.
3. Your thoughts on Sean Lee?
I have a great relationship with Sean Lee and to be quite honest – I am very concerned for him. This is not one of those situations like a knee or hand where you can fix it and everything is going to be okay. Given the way he plays, he is always going to be in the pile and that is going to lead to some injuries.
He is a violent player playing a violent game, but this wasn't one of those times where it appeared to be a violent hit. I go back and remember my experiences of being around Troy Aikman and once the concussions started to happen, even the normal quarterback hits from playing the game caused problems.
By moving Lee to the weak side, the defensive staff made an effort to put him in a position where there would be less wear and tear on him -- so you know there was concern from that standpoint. As much as Sean Lee loves to play the game, this medical staff will -- to borrow an auto racing term – park him for a couple of weeks, because it is the right thing to do.
In his place, Anthony Hitchens should take his spot in the lineup -- which is the most natural position for him.