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December 4, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Ed Werder

Gordon Guillory "G" (Corinth)

Hey "EddY" how have you been??? I just wanted to know what the mood was like in the Cowboys locker room?

Ed Werder
  (11:03 AM)

Gordon,We will let you start it off today. Good morning to everybody. Even though I'm not covering the Cowboys game this week _ I've got the undefeated Colts against Vince Young and Chris Johnson _ I've spent the past two days in the Cowboys locker room. I was impressed by what Bradie James said about the importance of Sunday's game and the context he applied in terming it a chance to eliminate the Giants. His honesty was refreshing and unusual coming from someone who plays for Wade Phillips. The Cowboys understand the significance of the game, have confidence that comes from winning recently and seem truly convinced they're better than the Giants.

Payton Hodgin (Longview, Tx)

Mr. Werder, How big of win will this be if the Cowboys can go into the Meadowlands and pull one off?? And does any of the cowboys sign the vistors locker room after the game?

Ed Werder
  (11:07 AM)

The psychological consequences of the Cowboys losing this game knowing their history of failure late in the season could be staggering, especially since they have the Chargers and Saints next up, which means a defeat at the Meadowlands could begin a three-game losing streak that would put an awful lot of pressure on this team. There would be further internal doubt about their ability to win big games, speculation about Wade Phillips and who knows, maybe the Eagles would overtake the Cowboys at that point. The Cowboys are playing better than the Giants, Tony Romo has a history of playing well in Giants Stadium. I know the Giants are a desperate team, but they're desperate because they haven't been playing well, and I think that's because Eli Manning is more injured than the team has acknowledged.

Page Chapman (Tyler, Texas)

Good Morning Ed, Will Tony Romo have a big passing game against the banged up Giants secondary. Will Austin be his primary reciever and have a big homecoming game. Thanks

Ed Werder
  (11:09 AM)

The Cowboys had 251 yards rushing against the Giants in the first game. Tom Coughlin has said the priority for the Giants defense is to control the running game, and New York defensive players have claimed they want the game in Romo's hands. I think the Cowboys have to throw to win, and the matchup I'd be worried about is Doug Free making his first NFL road start and having to block Justin Tuck. I think the Giants will try to create that matchup. If the offensive line protects Romo, I think he will exploit the secondary and the Cowboys absolutely want Miles Austin to create some big plays. The coaches will scheme for those opportunities.

Clay (Richmond, VA)

Do you think that Dallas would be where they are right now if they had kept T.O. on the team this year?

Ed Werder
  (11:12 AM)

The Cowboys have succeeded in their off-season priority of improving team chemistry. This is a better, more focused team without all the drama a and distractions. I think it is apparent that Terrell Owens was a better receiver than Roy Williams and could have posted better numbers. But I know that Tony Romo and Jason Garrett, among others, had no interest in continuing with TO being part of the Cowboys. I do not believe the Cowboys would be 8-3 right now if TO were on the roster even though they had won eight games at a similar point last season.

Neal S (Dallas, TX)

Why does Galloway have such a hatred of the Cowboys. I hate listening to 103.3 from 3-6 just becaus of him

Ed Werder
  (11:14 AM)

Randy doesn't hate the Cowboys. Like me, he owes a lot of his career to the fact that he's written and talked about the most intriguing franchise in the NFL over the years. He criticizes them when they deserve it and praises them when they earn it. Don't mistake his sense of humor for actual cynicism.

Mike S (CT)

Ed, are any of these punters going to nail the scoreboard this year? I wouldn't want all of the preseason coverage to go to waste.

Ed Werder
  (11:15 AM)

I have to admit, that I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet. I thought Roger Goodell made a mitake in yielding to Jerry Jones on this point. I think there's only one more chance for a punter to hit the scoreboard and that comes next week with San Diego in town.

Kino Martinez (Los Angeles Ca,)

What is your take on the Cowboys season so far? There's no drama this year. Is this be the best Cowboys team since Romo took over as starting QB?

Ed Werder
  (11:17 AM)

That's a difficult question. I don't know if this is the most talented team that Romo has quarterbacked, but I think it is the best team in terms of players being totally committed and playing for each other. You can't overestimate the importance of that, in my opinion. The problem is, the Saints and the Vikings are considerably better and will spend the postseason in two of the toughest buildings in the NFL for opponents. The Saints and Vikings have routinely played at a level I'm not sure the Cowboys have achieved even once this season.

Cows Fan (Cowland)

Who will be the Cowboys head coach next year?WadeGarrettShanahanHolmgrenTom Cable

Ed Werder
  (11:21 AM)

I don't pretend to know whom will be the next Cowboys head coach, but I applaud Jerry Jones for continuing to make Wade Phillips earn his return to the sidelines. I know Jerry wants Wade to succeed and would prefer to exercise the option he has for another year and perhaps extend the contract if the Cowboys win in the postseason, and I understand why Wade has begun to express frustration about that subject. He can complain all he wants about a lack of respect and compare his regular-season record to Bill Belichick's, but that's only part of what defines a head coach's success. You have to win in the playoffs. Not only was Wade the head coach when the Cowboys suffered their most one-sided loss in of the Jerry era last year in Philly, but his 13-3 team became the first top-seeded NFC team to be eliminated in the first round. Overall, Wade is 0-4 as a head coach in the playoffs even though his quarterbacks were John Elway, Doug Flutie and Romo.

Chris Hanson (Behind the door)

Step away from the computer Ed. I know what moustachioed folks like you are up to.

Ed Werder
  (11:22 AM)

Not sure what this means exactly, but I will be finished here soon enough

Andrew McCraw (Keller, TX/Arkadelphia, AR)

Mr. Werder, the Cowboys are one of if not THE most undisciplined teams in the NFL when it comes to Penalties. Every year for a decade now we have seen huge plays made that get brought back because of a penalty. Why is this the case, and why haven't we gotten better about it? What NEEDS to be done to fix the penalties? Thanks!

Ed Werder
  (11:25 AM)

That is one of the most perplexing questions, one the Cowboys have been unable to answer. The easy excuse is to point the finger of blame at Wade Phillips for tolerating it. But he made a point of pulling players out of the lineup for presnap penalties during the preseason, and the same problems confounded famed disciplinarian Bill Parcells too. I think a player like Flozell Adams draws penalties because he's aging and has lost something athletically and gets himself off balance or out of position. A lot of the penalties on the defensive backs comes from the cornerbacks trying to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and having their hands come off the shoulder pads and into the opponent's face. When you're physical in the secondary, you're going to have to accept some penalties.

Tim (Baltimore)

Hi Ed...you said that the cowboys' lack of production late in the year was due to the offensive line wearing down. What do you think they should do to avoid this? More two-tight-end sets, quicker routes by receivers? What are your thoughts? Thanks.

Ed Werder
  (11:28 AM)

Thanks for reading the column or hearing me make the point on GAC. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck disagrees with my theory, and I know he tries to rest Flozell Adams _ the oldest OL _ this time of year in practice to save him for game day. But the stats reveal that Romo gets sacked twice as often after November and turns the ball over twice as often as well. That's probably not coincidental. I think the Cowboys can improve if this is brought to the players' attention and made a point of emphasis. And, you're right, the receivers need to create quick separation so Romo can release the ball on time, lowering the risk of a sack. The problem is, the Cowboys' receivers are not known for their quickness in general, so this looms as a potential problem against opponents who rush the passer well and only the Giants among the Cowboys' remaining opponents do not rank in the NFL's top 10 in sacks.

Bradley (MPLS, MN)

Ed, how is that lockset deadline Favre was under working for you? Go ahead, blame it on your source.

Ed Werder
  (11:31 AM)

You can believe whatever you want, and Brad Childress won't admit it now, but he told Favre now-or-never when Favre was unwilling to make the decision on whether to play again. I understand why there is doubt about that information, but I'm totally convinced the report was accurate at th time _ and Favre admitted on the Joe Buck Show that the Vikings wanted him at the end of their OTAs. But Childress wasn't ready to walk away from Favre even when the quarterback ignored his deadline, and it's fortunate for the Vikings obviously that Childress continued to pursue Favre beyond his own deadline.

andy (mn)

if the cowboys win will romo sign the wall in the giants visiting locker room stating that they won the division in '09

Ed Werder
  (11:33 AM)

I cannot tell you how surprised I am that Eli Manning put his signature on the wall, noting both the date and score of the Giants' JerryWorld victory. The Cowboys are going to use that, and motivation matters in football. I see no point in Romo signing the wall since the building's coming down soon. He might as well wait until they open the new stadium across the parking lot so that his signature is long-lasting.

Steve Atwater (Unknown)

How do you see the AFC playoff picture shaping up and do the cowboys help my broncos and hand the chargers a loss??

Ed Werder
  (11:36 AM)

If this is the real Steve Atwater, the hard-hitting safety I covered as a Broncos beat reporter, I'm honored you would participate. The Chargers have some injuries, including Shawne Merriman, right now so they're vulnerable on defense. But Philip Rivers is going to score a lot of points. If the Cowboys defeat the Giants, I think it would be a huge emotional victory that might have some carryover into their home game against the Chargers. The Chargers are not unbeatable; the Giants had them for 55 minutes. The Broncos should make the playoffs _ although they have to maintain their current one-game lead over the Steelers and Ravens since they've been defeated by both and lose tie-breakers to each of them.

Chris (Irving)

Ed, great column on ESPNDallas.com this morning. I know the stats support it, but do you really think the offensive line is solely to blame for Romo's woes in December? I mean, some of that has to fall on Romo too, doesn't it?

Ed Werder
  (11:40 AM)

Thanks for reading the piece. I don't think the offensive line is the only issue. A lot of things determine how much pressure is put on the quarterback. The score of the game, the ability of the receivers to create separation, the ability of the backs to establish a running game and to pass protect when necessary. Unlike the Colts or a West Coast Offense team such as the Vikings, the Cowboys are more vulnerable to sacks because they will have Romo hold the ball and take shots vertically down the field. They're more susceptible now, and Romo's sack total has increased, because he's more willing to take a sack than risk an interception. You're right. Romo has to be decisive, use his awareness in the pocket, his mobility to escape and know where his checkdowns are and be willing to use them.

Joe (Alexandria)

Ed, do you think Barber will still split time with F Jones this Sunday?

Ed Werder
  (11:43 AM)

The Giants had significant problems with both Barber and Jones attacking the perimeter of their run defense in the first game, and the Giants were healthier than they are right now. This is where the Cowboys can dominate the game and protect their quarterback. The Broncos used a similar game plan and exploited the Giants in the same way on Thanksgiving night. If I were Jason Garrett, I would give Barber and Felix Jones at lot of chances to turn the corner on the Giants with sweeps, tosses and counters. That's all for this week. Let's do it next week.