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Five Questions with the Cowboys

I was able to sit down with's Dave Halprin and pick his brain a little bit on the Dallas Cowboys. It's arguably a season defining game for both football teams. If Dallas wins, they move to 2-5 and could potentially save the season. The Jaguars on the other hand can move to 4-4 and make it feel like the season is salvageable, or move to 3-5 and feel like it's almost over.

The big story is of course Romo going down, is there fear at 1-5 the team's going to shut it down or will they rally behind Kitna?

At this point, we're so shell-shocked that it's hard to know what to think. This is not how we expected this season to go, even before Romo went down, so that was just injury to insult. The Cowboys offense can still be semi-dangerous with Jon Kitna at the helm. They have an array of talent at the skill positions, especially with Roy Williams righting his game and Dez Bryant emerging. You could do worse at QB than Kitna. But do I expect some kind of miracle turnaround and the Cowboys get back into the competitive landscape of the NFL? Not really. They'll still win some games, but the playoffs and beyond are just that - beyond us.

In Jacksonville we're familiar with hot seats, how hot is Wade Phillips'?

What's the highest unit of heat measurement you got? I'd say his seat is about double that. I wrote a piece about it today (Thursday) basically calling him a Dead Man Walking. I just can't see how he survives after this season. Jerry Jones may not do anything until the season is over, but barring something akin to the Resurrection, this team is going nowhere and that means Wade Phillips is going somewhere, like somewhere other than Dallas.

What is the Cowboys biggest worry about the Jaguars offense?

The way teams have been running on us recently, I'd have to say Maurice Jones-Drew. There was a stretch when this Cowboys defense, basically the same unit as today, wasn't giving up any rushing yards to opposing offenses. I think it was like 21 straight games without a 100-yd rusher against them. But this year, quite a few backs have gouged us, including most recently the duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs last Monday. Feel free to run on us at will.

Dallas has struggled to stop the run on defense, what's the problem there?

I wish I knew exactly. Maybe I should direct your readers to this piece on our blog  which discusses the Cowboys weakness up the middle of the defense (outside of Jay Ratliff). It focuses a lot on pass defense, but Keith Brooking is having trouble this year, one of our safeties (Alan Ball) is having a poor year, and defensive end Igor Olshansky will get panned in an upcoming piece for his play. Bad angles on tackles, inability to shed blocks, confusion over assignments, take your pick.

Dallas is also one of the worst teams in the NFL rushing the football, what's the problem there?

For as massive and experienced as the Cowboys line is, there's one simple fact, they don't run block well on a consistent basis. This in turn leads to offensive coordinator Jason Garrett losing patience, or confidence, in the run game and he'll go to what we do well on offense and that's pass the ball. So you have an offensive line that is very inconsistent in run blocking, and an offensive coordinator whose tendency is to pass anyway, and you get an ineffective running game despite having a very talented running back crew. Oh yeah, and we always seem to be playing catch-up this year, so that also limits the run game.