IRVING, Texas -- Before we get into the game preparation for the playoffs, I figured I'd answer some of the questions that are getting thrown around after the conclusion of a very successful December.
Who is your most underrated player on offense?
I wish more people could sit down with me and watch tape of James Hanna play and see how well he plays down after down. As much credit as we all give DeMarco Murray and this offensive line, Hanna has been a real difference-maker when it has come to running the football. Jason Witten has been outstanding as well, but I can't begin to tell the job that Hanna has done while he has played at the point of attack. It is truly remarkable to see how he has developed throughout his career from a player that was viewed as a liability as a blocker to a guy that is a consistent finisher in the running game. It has not mattered one bit whether he has been inline or on the move -- when the ball comes behind him, he is getting movement. Hanna has that stunt man quality where, when the dirty work has to be done, he is usually in the middle of it.
How has Jermey Parnell played for Doug Free?
The coaching staff has to be pleased by what they have gotten from Parnell at right tackle this season. Replacing Free was not going to be easy because of the things that he provides, stability-wise, on that line. Parnell did a much better job this time around against the Redskins than he did the first time the two teams met. He really did a nice job of holding Ryan Kerringan in check, and that is no easy assignment. Where Parnell has improved the most from what we have seen at times during his career is that he has become more consistent play-to-play. There were stretches in his career where he would be rock solid for 10 to 15 plays in a row, then lose concentration for two to three. He has developed an ability not to have those lapses in games, and that has helped his overall play. There is no question that having Free back at some point during the playoffs would be ideal, but Parnell's level of play has been exactly where this offense needed it to be.
Will McClay is being linked to several general manager openings. Your thoughts?
I have said this from Day 1 that Will McClay is one of the most talented football evaluators that I had ever had the chance to work with. In my view what makes McClay different from most guys in this league is that not only does he have his own thoughts and opinions, but he is willing to listen to yours. He challenges you to be your best, but he also expects you to challenge him. He welcomes that back-and-forth and is more than willing to concede if your idea makes more sense. He also has that rare ability to balance the different dynamics that he faces daily, which is a huge requirement in an organization such as the Cowboys. Another advantage that McClay has is that he's coming from the pro side of scouting, where he understands who is playing in this league and how teams are being built, which is different from a guy from the college side who doesn't get to study these NFL teams every week. It doesn't surprise me one bit that McClay's name has drawn interest from teams around the league and anyone that takes the time to interview him will understand what I am talking about. He deserves any consideration that he receives.