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Three Questions: Forcing Turnovers, Free's Prospects Of Playing, Conditions In Green Bay

IRVING, Texas –With the divisional round trip to Green Bay looming, I wanted to answer some of the more popular questions I've been getting from Cowboys fans this week.

You have struggled with this defense all season – are you buying in now?

There is no question that this defense is playing at a much higher level than I ever believed they would, and that is a credit to Rod Marinelli and this coaching staff.

They have taken many of the same pieces they had in the previous season and molded it into a unit that is capable of winning a big game -- like they did this past weekend against the Lions. If there is a part of their game that I am buying into, it would be how they have been able to create turnovers. Over the last four games there has not been a team in the league that has been better at taking the ball away than this Cowboys defense.

There is no doubt that they have had their share of problems in generating pressure and sacks, but the great equalizer for them has been those turnovers and the way in which they create them at the most opportune time. As long as they continue with this trend then we should all buy into what they are doing defensively.


What are your thoughts about Doug Free – could we see him this week?

I have gone on record with my thoughts about Free and what he is dealing with in these bone spurs. It's a serious injury that will likely require surgery once the season is over. I just don't see him coming back anytime soon.

With that being said, Jermey Parnell will once again be the starter at right tackle for the fourth consecutive game. Parnell played well against the Colts and Redskins, but I felt like he wasn't at his best against the Lions. Just watching the tape, I had my questions how he was assignment-wise. With Parnell I am never worried about how he plays physically, but it's the mental side of the game or the lack of concentrating down-after-down that has me concerned the most.

With Free you knew exactly what you were going to get and with Parnell I am not always so sure and especially this time of the year that can be troubling.

You lived and worked in Green Bay – do you think the weather will be a problem?

The one advantage we always felt that we had playing late-season or playoff games at Lambeau Field was that we understood the cold. I know that sounds funny, but when you live in those conditions every day, you grow accustomed to how to deal with them.

It's not a shock to your system because you experience it day-after-day, so it becomes a part of you. I have talked to friends across the league that have played late-season games in Green Bay, and the one thing they always mention is that when the door of that airplane opens after you land – it's not only a physical barrier but a psychological one as well.

What will help the Cowboys this week is that the conditions in Dallas will be such that they will be able to try out their cold weather gear before the game and that will allow them to feel comfortable in how that will work. As a player you do not want to be trying new gear out the day of the game because that never works. 

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