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January 1, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Ed Werder

Steve Kolaris (Philadelphia)

How come so little is talked about Roy Williams terrible stats, dropped passes, and horrific route running. Jerry Jones seems to get off easy with this one and although it is me player in mentioned from time to time but I never see Jerry Jones directly asked how he feels his money is paying off with such a lackluster player in Williams. I mean the truth is, Williams is a complete bust, he is horrible! So many dropped passes at critical times!

Ed Werder
  (11:04 AM)

Good morning and Happy New Year everyone.I wrote an entire column on the website regarding my OPINION of Roy Williams belatedly taking responsibility for his poor performance. So I have not ignored his level of play, nor has the other media covering the team. Those responding on message boards ridiculed my column, which is my definition my opinion. I have nothing personal against Williams. I find him entertaining, but I also have to be honest in assessing his performance and, contrary to what Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips say, it's been poor _ and it's mostly been the player's own fault. It's obvious by the decline in his opportunities that as Roy says, the quarterback and offensive coordinator are looking elsewhere for plays to be made. And Williams makes it clear by saying he will start catching balls off a machine after practice that he hasn't been doing everything he could to improve until Week 17. The long-term problem for the Cowboys is that Williams makes $9 million a year. His former backup, Miles Austin, just became a Pro Bowler in his contract year and won't be willing to accept less when his numbers are twice as good.

Drew (Oxford,MS)

Do you think Dallas' secondary can put a lid on Phillys receivers like they did in the first meeting? I think McNabb has to play a very,very good game to beat Dallas today. Also, what are your thoughts on playing Philly 3 times if Dallas does win....Thanks

Ed Werder
  (11:06 AM)

I know from speaking with players that they want to avoid playing Philadelphia on Sunday and then again in the first-round of the playoffs the following week. It might not be hard to beat an opponent three times if the opponent is the Redskins. But defeating a quality team like the Eagles would be extremely challenging. As for your other question, I think the Cowboys have good corners to matchup with Maclin and Jackson, but I like their chances of controlling the passing game by having their defensive front beat the reconfigured Eagles offensive line and pressure Donovan McNabb

Larry (Wichita Falls, TX)

If Jason Garrett either gets fired or becomes the new head coach at the end of the post-season would Jerry Jones pursue Mike Leach as an offensive cordinator for next year?

Ed Werder
  (11:08 AM)

It seems to me that Jerry Jones, based on his most recent comments, has already decided to retain Wade Phillips _ barring another 44-6 debacle. Whether that means he simply picks up the option and makes him coach as a lame-duck again or extends the contract, I'm not sure. So I think it's a certainty that Jason Garrett returns as offensive coordinator since the Cowboys owe him two more years at about $7 million total and would be reluctant to change the offensive system on Tony Romo just as it seems he's begun to master this one.

Jerry (Fredericksburg,VA)

Is Buehler really that bad of a field goal kicker? How does he look in practice? I hate wasting the extra roster spot since Folk was let go.

Ed Werder
  (11:11 AM)

Clearly, David Buehler has made a tremendously positive contribution to the Cowboys in is rookie season. His ability to create touchbacks consistently and force opponents to take possession at their 20-yard line is a significant factor in Dallas ranking first in the NFC and third in the NFL in scoring defense. But if the Cowboys had any confidence in his ability to make field goals right now, he would have replaced Nick Folk rather than signing Shaun Suisham.

KY Cowboy Fan (Paducah, KY)

Another Roy Williams question: I have heard a lot of talk about the "Cowboys don't use Roy Williams correctly" or "the Cowboys don't maximize what Roy Williams does best"....in your opinion what routes does Roy Williams excell at best?

Ed Werder
  (11:14 AM)

I think Roy Williams is best running vertical routes, comebacks, hooks. I think he could be a good player on fades, back-shoulder throws and jump balls around the goal line. The problem on even some of those routes is that he lacks quickness and doesn't create much separation. He does not appear confident running slants and other patterns across the middle where there are a lost of defenders, and I doubt Tony Romo wants to throw to him in those areas because of the potential for a deflection that becomes an interception.

Joseph (Frisco, Tx)

Ed why doesn't T. Choice get more playing time in your opinion? I feel that the Cowboys are going to lose him to another team down the road and he is going to be a great running back. Thanks Ed. You Da Man!

Ed Werder
  (11:17 AM)

I've patiently waited for Marion Barber to be the unstoppable power runner he was two years ago. I've been among the few who believed the Cowboys were using their three running backs correctly. But I'm at the point of reconsidering that, and I agree that Tashard Choice deserves the opportunity based on his own performance and the declining productivity of Barber, especially in short-yardage situations. I don't blame Barber for all the failure around the goal line and in short-yardage against the Redskins and Chargers. The Cowboys need a wider variety of play options in those situations. How about a play-action fake and Romo to Austin on a quick slant. How about a quarterback sneak on third-and-six-inches. Instead, the Cowboys have the quarterback hadn the ball to Barber six yards deep, now he needs seven yards to pick up third-and-one. If there's any penetration, Barber has no chance.

Jayson (Phoenix)

I'm curious to see if Roy Williams will be benched in favor of one of the young receivers on the roster such as Sam Hurd or Kevin Ogletree. What are your thoughts regarding this situation?

Ed Werder
  (11:20 AM)

I think the reason Roy Williams took the blame this week for his disappointing performance and vowed to improve is that he noticed Tony Romo stopped throwing to him, and he observed that Jason Garrett was beginning to rotate the two receivers you mentioned into the game while Roy Williams went to the sidline. And let's not forget that Ogletree made two very big plays on a scoring drive in Philly on bubble screens. I have no problem giving Ogletree or Patrick Crayton plays at the expense of Williams right now.

courtney (lewisville tx)

Do you think the cowboys will release Roy Williams and find Romo another target that he can benefit from this offseason

Ed Werder
  (11:23 AM)

The contract will make it difficult for the Cowboys to release Williams after this season. I've seen the document and they had a brief opportunity last offseason _ but they were contemplating cutting TO and had just spent two high draft choices on Williams. They still owe Williams $21 million. I think they will take a hard look at the possibility of cutting Williams after this season because he's had a year and a half to justify his paycheck and hasn't done so often enough. I don't know if they can find a loophole because he has significant guaranteed money for skill, injury and salary cap. If Williams is here next year, it will be because of the team's guaranteed financial commitment, not because of his skill level.

TD (NJ)

Are there any injuries to the Cowboys that may hinder there playoffs we are not aware of??

Ed Werder
  (11:24 AM)

Miles Austin has been wearing a wrap and an electronic stimulation device on his left hand because of a thumb injury whenever I've seen him at Valley Ranch this week. He hasn't missed practice, and the Cowboys have downplayed the severity of the injury. But if there's anything wrong with a receiver's hand, it's not a good thing. So I would keep an eye on that this weekend.

Steve (Philadelphia,MS)

No one seems to be giving the Cowboys a chance,at least on ESPN. I think they will play well today at home. What do you think Mr. Werder?

Ed Werder
  (11:27 AM)

I'm not sure you can ever totally trust the Cowboys, but I have high expectations for them for two reasons _ Tony Romo is playing his position exceptionally well and the Cowboys might have the best defensive front seven of any team in the NFC playoffs. With DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff, they have three players who pose significant matchup problems for any offensive line and put every opposing quarterback in jeopardy. I do give Wade Phillips credit for doing an outstanding job on defense.

sean (san antonio)

Assuming the truth of reports that the chemistry is much better in the lockerroom, is it your belief that this Dallas Cowboy team has the mental toughness and belief in itself to succeed in the postseason?

Ed Werder
  (11:30 AM)

I feel like they still have to prove they have the nerve to win in the postseason. But I think there is evidence to suggest they have that capability this year, primarily their victories in Philly and New Orleans. In Philly, the Cowboys prevailed in a stressful game where any play could decide the eventual outcome of the game. That took concentration and every-down intensity. In New Orleans, it was imperative that the Cowboys not play from behind in the Superdome, and they managed to play against form. The Saints led the NFL in first possession points; the Cowboys ranked next to last. Saints got the ball first. The defense forced a three-and-out, Tony Romo led a flawless first drive for a touchdown and the Cowboys never trailed. Those victories say something about this team, especially with the Saints and Vikings being revealed as nothing special.

Jerry (Albuquerque)

Happy New Year Ed. Bottom line, no matter what happens in the upcoming games, better to keep Phillips or go for one of the "big name coaches, keep Wade and replace Garrett, or keep the current staff intact and continue to build on the current successes.thanks and have a great new year.

Ed Werder
  (11:32 AM)

I appreciate the sentiments. Unless the Cowboys are blown out Sunday by the Eagles and then fail to compete in their playoff opener and suffer elimination, I think there's virtually no chance Jerry Jones makes any significant coaching changes.

Donald (Paducah, KY)

How do you assess Doug Free's play since Colombo has been out? Does he have a future as a left tackle for the Cowboys? Or should we look for the Cowboys to draft a LT prospect to replace Adams in the 2010 draft?

Ed Werder
  (11:36 AM)

Doug Free has played exceptionally well as the replacement for Marc Colombo, who should return as soon as next week. The Cowboys will be pleased to have him back in the lineup because of his mean streak. But it seems to me that Free has committed very few penalties, has not been overwhelmed in any matchup, although the Cowboys have provided him some help at times. But it's not a coincidence that Tony Romo threw more than 160 passes without an interception with his starting right tackle out. I'm not sure he's athletic enough to play left tackle, but at least the Cowboys can be confident Free can play RT as I'm not sure Colombo has a lot of years remaining.

Shively (Paducah, KY)

I don't think the punt return by Patrick Crayton gets as much attention as it deserves for the early win over the Eagles. Do you think the Cowboys will have a chance to win the Special Teams battle this Sunday?

Ed Werder
  (11:38 AM)

Well, we know that with Joe DeCamillas, the Cowboys will have the tougher special teams coach. It put the checkmark in his box in that matchup. Mat McBriar is at least the equal of every punter in the conference, but David Akers gives the Eagles the kicking edge when it comes to scoring on special teams. And DeSean Jackson has the best return average in the league and is believed to be the first player in NFL history to be chosen as both a starter at a WR and returner on special teams so he's unique.

matt brown (albany ny)

Where do you draw the line with going all out to win the division and maybe even get the number 2 seed or trying to protect your players because the Boys are already inthe playoffs

Ed Werder
  (11:42 AM)

If the Vikings win their early kickoff, then the Cowboys will know before the game against the Eagles whether they can win and have a chance at the No. 2 seed. Regardless, the Cowboys have to go all out to beat the Eagles to create momentum going into the playoffs. This group of players hasn't had the kind of postseason success that makes confidence an automatic. I think their performance Sunday and the outcome will largely determine how they feel about themselves going into the playoffs. Going into the postseason with a victory over NO, a shutout of the Redskins and a division-championship clinching victory over the Eagles would be substantial. That's all the time for this holiday. Thanks to everyone for the great questions.