LONDON – They're running at a different time than usual, because of the time change, but here are my final thoughts for Sunday's game against the Jaguars.
From everything we've seen this week, it looks like the relative health of the Cowboys should be much better than what we saw last week back at AT&T Stadium.
Without further ado:
- I fully expect Tony Romo to be fit and ready to go on Sunday. I've been hearing that his practices have been exceptional and he is once again back into that rhythm where he was before the injury. For an offense that struggled against the Cardinals last week, he will be a welcomed sight in that huddle on several levels.
- Jason Witten gave us a little insight this on week what we should see game plan-wise with his comments of returning to what they are. Look for a steady diet of not only DeMarco Murray but Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle, as well. With this being the last game before the bye and several potential cold weather road games on the horizon, getting back to that physical style of running the ball is going to be necessary pushing forward.
- If I am Rod Marinelli and this defensive staff, I would have to be a little nervous with the loss of Rolando McClain and Tyrone Crawford in the middle of that defense for this game. I would also be concerned with a physically banged up Nick Hayden, as well. One of the major reasons why teams have struggled to run the ball has been largely due to the play of those three and how physical they are at the point of attack. It will be on Terrell McClain and Anthony Hitchens to fill that void of McClain and Crawford with the hope that Hayden can somehow fight his way through the game and contain Denard Robinson and this underrated Jaguars rushing attack.
- I wrote earlier in the week about Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns and the type of season he is having in his rookie year. But this Cowboys secondary also needs to keep an eye Cecil Shorts III and another talented rookie, Allen Robinson. Shorts is known more for his quick, explosive burst on those short to intermediate passes, while Robinson is a bit slower but makes up with it by his routes and ability to go get the ball. In the last several weeks the Cowboys have gone with a dime package to get more corners on the field and I expect that we will see more of that this week to match the Jaguars if they attempt to spread the defense out.
- Talking to several of the Cowboys offensive players this week, not only were they excited to have Tony Romo back on the field but also Ronald Leary and Doug Free, as well. When you look at the offensive success up to this point in the season a large measure of that has come from the job that those five guys have done. There are things they missed scheme wise with those two being out of the lineup that they will now be able to go back to in regard to getting the ball on the edge and some power plays. In football continuity is key, especially in offensive line play and the Cowboys are now back on track with that.
- Speaking of the Cowboys offensive line, this week should be an interesting test in blocking this Jacksonville front and their pass rushers. It is interesting in what they have done to build this front -- not through the draft, but with the addition of several different free agents. If you look at the production of each, you would have to say it appears to be working well. Four of their defensive linemen have four sacks each coming into this game. Chris Clemons is the veteran of the group but they have been getting production from a player that is very similar in what they Cowboys have with George Selive named Ryan Davis. If you look at Davis' history, he was undrafted out of Bethune-Cookman, was on and off the Jaguars roster and finally stuck for good at the end of 2013. He is a little bit undersized like Selvie, but he has the same type of motor and effort. He does a really nice job of coming off the ball with an explosive first step and gets into the blocker quickly. Keep an eye on him because he has the type of rush ability that can give offensive linemen problems.