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December 18, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Ed Werder

Todd Gilmore (Hurst)

Is Jason Garrett the worst play caller in the league?

Ed Werder
  (11:03 AM)

Good morning from New Orleans, sit of tomorrow night's big game. I'm hearing the Jerry Jones is very critical of Jason Garrett, whom he once thought would be the Cowboys' head coach. I understand his logic in the goal-line situation. Yove have to think Marion Barber will get you a yard there. He's not the same player. But if you know you're going for it in that situation on fourth down and you have a mobile quarterback, I think you play-action on third down, roll Romo and sneak Jason Witten out on a route. The Cowboys' offense has been simplified to eliminate presnap penalties and because some players have difficulty processing a lot of information. They need to be aggressive against the Saints.

Craig (NM)

Mortensen is saying not to rule out Cowher or Fisher as the next head coach in Dallas. What are your thoughts on that?

Ed Werder
  (11:06 AM)

If Jerry fires Wade Phillips, and I know that's not the outcome he wants even though it seems inevitable at this point, I think he will hire an offensive coach. He still owes Jason Garrett a lot of money, but I'm not sure Jerry's inclined to let that stand in the way. Jerry also does not believe he has to pay exorbitant salaries to head coaches. So both of those play against Bill Cowher and Jeff Fisher. I'm told by a very good source that Fisher cannot get out of his contract even after he was forced by the owner to play Vince Young. The guy I think is perfect for the Cowboys job is Mike Shanahan, who has heard nothing even indirectly from the Cowboys. Jerry might want a younger coach, the next Josh McDaniels?

Rob (Dallas)

Who is favored to replace Wade if he's fired and is it Wade's fault? I'd argue that it's not Wade or Jason's fault the players can't get it in from the 1 yard line.

Ed Werder
  (11:09 AM)

I agree that if you look at the performance of this team that Jason Garrett's offense is more responsible for this team's failure _ if 8-5 is failure _ than Wade Phillips' defense. But more important than either of those is leadership and motivation, and it seems to me, that Wade provides either none of that or not nearly enough. He doesn't make changes in the starting lineup, doesn't bring in players during the week for tryouts until this week to keep players on edge and refuses to confront real personnel issues _ whether it's Nick Folk or Roy Williams. He pretends everything is all right and that problems are creations of the media.

Mac (CT)

Ware's gonna play isn't he?

Ed Werder
  (11:11 AM)

I expect DeMarcus Ware will play as long as he's able to overcome the psychological effects of the kind of injury he suffered last week and all the thoughts that must go through a player's mind in that situation. I think physically he will be fine in terms of range of motion and strength and those questions. Where is he mentally?

Bryan (Nova Scotia)

Ed, with all of Folk's kicking problems, is there any body out therethat could come in and take over , is Elam really a worse optionright now, how about eddie murry on speeddial!

Craig (NM)

Why wouldn't Shanahan wait until after the season to take his next coaching job? Dallas is a better fit (better personnel, especially at QB, and closer to Denver where he just built a mansion and restaurant). Also, Chicago could be a factor (he's from Illinois). He could probably have his choice.

Ed Werder
  (11:14 AM)

With Wade Phillips' accidental admisssion that he thought Jason Elam was still with the Falcons even though he'd been released Dec. 1, it's apparent to me that the Cowboys never seriously considered cutting Nick Folk. So that left them two very bad options. With their season on the line and needing every point they can score against the Saints, they're either sending out a kicker whose nine misses are the most in the league or a rookie who's never attempted a regular-season field goal. I can't imagine how furious the other players are when Folk misses now. Elam was probably the best outside option and he had missed half his attempts and left the field three straight weeks believing he would be released the next day. I don't know that there was a better option than Folk, but someones perception is important and you can't keep letting the same guy hold back the entire team

Dan (Tulsa, OK)

If the Redskins hire Shanahan, who will Jerry hire if/when he fires Wade?

Ed Werder
  (11:16 AM)

I've heard for a long time that Jerry had a very high opinion of Mike Shanahan, who tried to sign Tony Romo. Shanahan has the offensive imagination the Cowboys lack, and he would take control of the locker room. Players would fear him like they did Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, and that's a positive. But Jerry has not been in contact with him as the Redskins are believed to be, so the Cowboys must have someone else in mind. I doubt Jerry would sit there and let his choice to be the next head coach in Dallas go to a division opponent unless that's what he wanted to happen.

Bob Mack (Indianapolis, IN)

Ed - is there any reality to the calm demeanor that Cowboys' coach Wade Phillips is projecting heading into the New Orleans game on Saturday or is it just an attempt to step around talk over the Cowboys December trouble, the possibility of being beaten badly by the Saints and the possible change at the head coach position in 2010?

Ed Werder
  (11:18 AM)

Wade is simply being himself, even though he promised to change his methods after narrowly avoiding losing his job last season. That's his personality. Jerry should have known that wasn't going to change. Does Wade come across as calm or clueless?

Brian (NJ)

Is there any shot at Garrett handing the ball over to Felix to start? Marion was at his best it seems when he spelled Julius Jones. Is the Contract or the ego in the way?

Ed Werder
  (11:20 AM)

The Cowboys must see that Marion Barber is seldom the unstoppable runner who set the tempo for the entire team with his refusal to be taken to the ground. Jerry Jones absolutely loves Felix Jones, but they know from experience they can't trust him to hold up physically if he gets more than 10 or so touches. I know when the Cowboys paid Barber the $45 million contract that people thought it was a mistake because he was two-tenths of a second too slow to be a franchise back and that's how the Cowboys were paying him.

Brian (NJ)

With the skins on their way to hiring Shanahan. Whos would be the frontrunner if wade is Ousted. IMO.. Bring on Chucky ! In Gruden I Trust

Ed Werder
  (11:21 AM)

It's my understanding that Gruden will not coach in 2010, that he's committed to MNF. I'm also not sure he's a great fit for the Cowboys because he can be a very negative coach and that might be a problem for Tony Romo and others.

joe martinez (south texas)

do u feel that the cowboys have shown what kind of team they are and simply arent good enough to go against the goodtemaslike the saints or will we see a turn around late in the season?

Ed Werder
  (11:25 AM)

Tony Romo said the Cowboys will find out what kind of team they've got against the Saints. I think he's said that before, and I know he claimed last year as the Cowboys were going to Philadelphia that their best football was in front of them and he had a feeling they were going to play their best game. I know he and the Cowboys beat Peyton Manning and the 9-0 Colts in 2006. This is different. The challenge for Romo is that against the Saints, he has to play against not only their defense, but the Saints offense and the Superdome crowd. Drew Brees is going to force Romo to play under pressure all night because the Saints are going to score a lot of points and this might be the hardest building in the NFL for opposing teams because the crowd noise is so intense. Romo says the Cowboys are putting a lot of emphasis on starting the game well. But they haven't scored a touchdown on their opening possession all year, and have just two field goals in those situations. That creates the strong potential of the Cowboys playing from behind very early in the game.

Jeremy Paoff (Syracuse,Ny)

Hey Ed, what do the cowboys have to do, too win saturday night?

Ed Werder
  (11:27 AM)

An offense that was shutout for 59 minutes in Green Bay, for 57 minutes at home against Washington and had 10 points for the first 59:58 at home against the Chargers is going to have to somehow score 40 points or more against the Saints at the Superdome. To do that, the Cowboys will have to produce points on special teams and the defense will have to create turnovers that provide short-field scoring opportunities.

Bob (Midland, TX)

What's up with Terrence Newman? I've seen him out of position so many times and lacking in tackling that I wonder if his skills have eroded or his enthusiasm waned. Jenkins at this point certainly seems to be the better CB. Your thoughts?

Ed Werder
  (11:30 AM)

I agree that Jenkins is the better player right now. I think TNew is still a quality corner but he's what _31 _ and I think we've seen him play better than he did last week even though he had what could have been a pivotal interception except that the offense malfuncitioned and Folk missed a field goal attempt. He's not afraid to be physical but he missed an important jam on the 39-yard play to Vincent Jackson that decided the game. That can't happen against the Saints. The Cowboys must re-route the New Orleans receivers. The problem is the Saints have so many players involved offensively that it's almost impossible to isolate on any one player.

James (San Antonio)

I'm a proponent of the Austin/Crayton combo, what are the chances that will happen next year? And what are the chances another team would take Roy Williams contract in a trade?

Ed Werder
  (11:31 AM)

Not even the Raiders would pay Roy Williams' contract. The Cowboys need a speed threat desperately. And there have been some they passed over in recent drafts. That has to be a priority this offseason.

Todd Gilmore (Hurst)

Considering that Marion Barber ability is diminishing, why isn't Choice getting the bulk of the carries?

Ed Werder
  (11:33 AM)

Two reasons_ the money they've invested in Marion Barber and the first-round pick they invested in Felix Jones. One of my complaints about the Cowboys is that it seems too often starting positions and playing time are determined by factors other than who is playing the best, regardless of how they were acquired or how much they are being paid.

Kyle (College Station)

Doesn't Wade have one of the best records out of all active coaches in the past 3-5 years? I can't remember the exact range.

Ed Werder
  (11:34 AM)

Wade Phillips has won more regular-season games than any coach except Bill Belichick the past three seasons. He would have trailed Tony Dungy too except he retired. And who cares about regular-season success unless it leads to postseason results? Wade Phillips took over a very talented team and has won nothing of significance.

Bernard (Princeton, NJ)

I'm in your head, Werder! Is there any way the Cowboys can slow down Drew Brees and the Saints WR tomorrow night?

Ed Werder
  (11:38 AM)

Nice line, my friend. The Cowboys seem to believe they can do what nobody else has _ not only beat an undefeated team but do it in the Superdome where they are at their absolute best, winning by an average of 15.5 points. Can Tony Romo succeed where Super Bowl winners Tom Brady and Eli Manning failed. If he can, I think perception of the Cowboys as an organization change _ for at least a week. We will find out if the Cowboys are truly confident as they have claimed or it is just so much false bravado. I know that as a former Cowboys assistant, Sean Payton will do everything he can to embarrass the Cowboys and make a statement. And Drew Brees will want to deliver a performance that makes it seem riduclous that Payton pursued trading for Romo before signing the most statistically prolific quarterback of the past two years. Thanks to everyone for the great questions.