We had the chance to ask a few questions with David Halprin from Blogging the Boys about the Denver Broncos upcoming game with the Dallas Cowboys.
1) The young guns last year in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott made anyone paying attention to NFL football stand up and take notice. As a Cowboys fan, do you see any areas of concern in either of them that makes you wonder about their ability to be impactful for your team long term?
I don't see any issues with Prescott having an impact on the field long term. Despite a so-so game last week versus the Giants, Prescott looks to be the type of player you build a franchise around. His touchdown to interception ratio is extremely low, he's a quarterback who takes care of the football. He's also grown in his understanding of the offense and dissecting a defense. He was making a lot of audibles and formation changes in the Giants game, and indication of how much he's grown from last year. He works hard and his teammates respect him, and he gets the job done in the passing game.
Elliott's situation is a little more uncertain given his problems with the suspension and the nature of injury and general wearing out that occurs at his position. At some point he will probably have to serve his six-game suspension, and if any other troubles follow him, it could be much worse next time. Also, running backs tend to burn out faster than most players, and Zeke runs with a very physical style, so how long he stays with Dallas and on top of his game is anybody's guess. But right now, he's one of the best two or three backs in the league and should be for the foreseeable future.
2) In Week 1 your team's defense made a pretty darn impressive showing against one of their division rivals. The Giants really weren't able to have much success offensively at all. What are the key changes you are seeing that has appeared to have shored up your defense?
The Cowboys revamped their secondary and have gone back to the style of coverage that Rod Marinelli prefers, zone coverage. The players they have now seem better suited for the scheme that Marinelli wants to run. Also, a couple of years ago the Cowboys changed secondary coaches and that has really paid off.
But the main thing the Cowboys do really well is stop the run. Last year they were the number one defense in rushing yards allowed and they held the Giants to 35 yards rushing on Sunday. Sean Lee is a huge part of that, and Jaylon Smith looks ready to help him out at linebacker.
The Cowboys are good at not giving up the big play, they force teams to run a lot of plays on scoring drives, and they are betting that the offense will make a mistake along the way. So they play the run very well, they try not to give up big plays, and they make tackles once a receiver catches the ball. That's the formula they are going for.
3) Tell us a little bit about 2 players on your team who Broncos Country hasn't likely heard of, but are making a positive impact in the success of the Cowboys so far this year.
This is a tough question because I never know who other fanbases have heard of or not! Let's go with cornerback Anthony Brown, a sixth-round pick last year who was forced into action because of injuries and played really well. By the end of last year he was playing as well as any cornerback, and this was a big surprise to the Cowboys fanbase. In week 1 against the Giants, he had an interception and was blanketing receivers. He's a huge factor for the Cowboys on defense.
On offense, Chaz Green turned in a very good game at left guard against the Giants. You guys stole Ronald Leary from us, Green is the guy filling his spot at left guard. We were very unsure about how well he would play, but he did very well for a tackle that has been converted to guard.
4) Can you talk a little bit about DeMarcus Ware and what he means to your fans? Broncos fans universally love the guy. What legacy did he leave in Dallas and how do you and the fan base view the end of his career ending in Denver?
DeMarcus Ware is as loved by the fanbase as any player who has played for the Cowboys in the past couple of decades. Of course on the field he was unblockable for large parts of his career. He was the guy that forced offenses to keep a tight end in on his side, or have a running back help chip him, tying up two guys on the offense. Even then, Ware still got his sacks and pressure on opposing QBs. But it wasn't just on the field, as you guys know, he's as good a guy as you will find in the game. Fans were proud that he represented their team and loved the way he went about his business. It was sad to see him leave for sure, but I think most Cowboys fans were happy that he he finally got a Super Bowl ring, even if it didn't come with Dallas. He was that loved by the fanbase.
5) What are your 3 keys to the game for the Cowboys being victorious?
1. Be able to run the ball efficiently and set up manageable third downs. The Cowboys offense thrives when they are running the ball well on early downs, if they can do that, they will chew up the clock and put points on the board.
2. Get Von Miller blocked. La'el Collins will have his work cut out for him on Sunday, the Cowboys will probably have to give him some help.
3. Keep from giving up explosive plays on defense. The Cowboys do well when they can control the clock with their offense and leave little time for the opposition. It makes it hard for the opposing offense to keep pace on the scoreboard unless they can hit the big plays. So limit those.
Bonus just for giggles: give us your score prediction and how you think this game is going to play out.
Cowboys 23 - Broncos 17. I think the Cowboys will be able to run the ball effectively, and even though Miller will be disruptive, the Cowboys defense will play better than people think they will and hold down the Broncos offense.
Thanks to David for the insights and taking the time to share with Mile High Report. As a SB Nation veteran of almost a decade, let me just say Blogging the Boys is a really great blog with a lot of really smart football fans (even if they don’t cheer for God’s team). Hop over if you get a chance and see for yourself.