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September 29, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Tim MacMahon

Tim MacMahon
  (2:59 PM)

Welcome to another glorious ESPNDallas.com Cowboys chat. We'll talk everything from fine wines to football.

Catch_22_8_88 (Whitewater, WI)

After slamming the Cowboys last week...anything to say for yourself?!?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:01 PM)

Am I supposed to regret criticizing a team that underachieved horribly while losing its first two games? Sorry, I don't. They earned praise with their performance in Houston and got it. They deserved to be ripped for being a sloppy, undisciplined, unprepared team the first two weeks.

Chris (Homdel, NJ)

Tim, Alan Ball has been pretty mediocre at best so far this year. Do you see him geting pushed by Mike Hamlin or AOA or is he starting FS this year without question?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:02 PM)

Alan Ball is the guy this year. Mike Hamlin was inactive Sunday in Houston. That's a long way from pushing for a starting job. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is at least a year away from playing a significant role on defense, but he has potential to develop into a starter.

Ryan (Waterloo, IA)

Why do their backs have to be against the wall before this team really plays to its potential? How hard is it for a team to understand a simple concept that even us fans understand, that every game is important?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:03 PM)

Excellent question. Not many good answers coming from the Cowboys. But they say they understand that they need to keep the sense of urgency they had last week for the rest of the season.

Wayne (Oklahoma)

Heard rumbling the other day may have been my stomach but anyway . What is the chance of Cohwer coming to Dallas?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:04 PM)

Man, we're still trying to fire Wade Phillips after a win? I don't see Bill Cowher being a good fit. He worked for hands-off owners in Pittsburgh and probably prefers that style. He won't get that at Valley Ranch.

Tim (New York)

Is it just me or does the Wild Cat offense almost never work for the Cowboys? Not sure why Garrett keeps on calling it, particularly in the Red Zone. It seems like being a little too creative might be part of their problems when they are close to scoring. Do you have any stats on this?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:05 PM)

I also wonder whether the Cowboys would be better off scrapping the Razorback. They got one big play out of it last season, but it's way too predictable. Tashard Choice has yet to do hand the ball off.

fred (new York)

Great job Tim.... Since the OL has been playing well, Do u think after the bye, we come out in more 3-receiver sets rathers than 2-TE sets to get Dez on feild more?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:07 PM)

That's a week-to-week matchup deal. They don't necessarily have to go to three-WR sets to get Dez on the field. He can play in two-WR sets, too. But he still needs to make mental strides. They can afford to bring him along slowly as long as Roy Williams keeps producing.

derrik neal (nacogdoches, texas)

Where is kevin olgetree? i'm glad hurd got some snaps but i would like to see olgetree get some too. Is it that he isnt doing well in practice or that we arent going to alot of 4 wide sets? whenever we go 4 wide i keep seeing a tight end in one of those spots. why not olgetree?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:08 PM)

It's about trust. The coaches know Sam Hurd, who made a clutch third-down catch Sunday, will be sound with his assignments. Ogletree didn't prove that during training camp and the preseason.

Robert (Smith )

When will we see Martellus Bennet emerge as a crucial part of the Offense?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:09 PM)

He's at best fifth in the pecking order of the passing game. He'll probably never put up big numbers here, at least as long as Jason Witten is playing at a Pro Bowl level. The key for Marty B is to take advantage of the opportunities he's given. He's done a decent job of that so far this season.

Johnny (Red Bank, NJ)

Hi Tim - I know April '11 is a long way away but do you have any initial feelings on what positions the Boys will focus on in the next draft and free agency period? I'm hoping for OL picks in rds 2-4. Thanks!

Tim MacMahon
  (3:11 PM)

Offensive line is the top priority without question. Even if the old guys stay healthy the rest of the season, the Cowboys have to prepare for a time when Davis, Gurode, Colombo and Kosier will be sitting on their rocking chairs.

Erik (IL)

Does a bye week here hurt the Cowboys? Does it kill there momentum.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:12 PM)

I don't think so. It gives Kyle Kosier and Jason Witten a week to get healthy after suffering minor knee injuries. It gives Joe DeCamillis a week to clean up some special teams issues. It gives Wade Phillips a week to prepare a game plan that will puzzle Vince Young. The Cowboys were able to build off a pre-bye win last season. I think we'll see the same thing this year.

Shon (Vegas)

Will Sean Lee be ready soon? Brooking and James need a breather and the Williams' are completely lost out there. Could Church drop down as the nickel lb occasionaly?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:14 PM)

Ready from a health or preparation standpoint? He's close to being healthy after practicing some last week. Not sure how close he is to being able to contribute to the defense. They need him to play 15-20 snaps per game in the base defense to give the vets a break. Danny McCray has gotten reps as the nickel LB. Barry Church hasn't, at least that I know of.

Roysmyboy (Virginia)

How long will KK be out ? Think Montrae will be ok ?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:15 PM)

There is a decent chance that Kosier will play next weekend. Montrae Holland was adequate in the season opener.

Austin (Oklahoma City)

Romo looked to Roy E. Williams on the final play of the Washington game, and obviously a lot in the Houston game. Is this a developing trend or an abberation due to defensive attention to Austin?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:16 PM)

It'll be a trend if Williams keeps taking advantage of his opportunities. I think he earned some confidence by Romo with two tough catches against the Bears. He took two vicious hits and held on to the ball.

Bryan (Frisco)

How would you grade Doug Free's performance so far and do you think he can be a pro bowler?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:17 PM)

Free has had a phenomenal first three games. He's faced premier pass-rushers in each game and has yet to allow a sack. Can he be a Pro Bowler this season? Probably not, just because it takes time to build that kind of reputation as an offensive tackle.

Kevin (Jax, FL)

There's obviously a sense of entitlement w/ this team. They only play up to their competition and sometimes they are very surprised by their opponents strength (Bears). Who's responsibility is it to get the guys intensity up no matter who we play? Is it all on the coach or does it come down to simple player attitude and character?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:18 PM)

It's shared responsibility. Part of a coach's job is making sure his team is prepared, but you shouldn't have to motivate millionaires who have been in the league for several years. You need self-starters to succeed in the NFL.

Beau (Central Texas)

Hey Tim. The Cowboys are 1-2 and things look to be on the up and up. However, if things get worse after the bye (losing 2 or 3 games out of the next 5), do you see a chance that Jerry Jones promotes Jason Garrett to Head Coach and demotes Wade Phillips to JUST D-Coordinator? I'm not sure that would be such a great switch, but I don't believe that JJ should let go of one of the best defensive coordinators in the league.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:19 PM)

No. I don't think Wade Phillips has so little pride that he'd accept such an arrangement. Plus, I don't get why people think it'd be a good idea to promote Jason Garrett. The offense has had one good games and two poor ones. The defense has had two good games and one poor one. Why promote the coordinator who has more problems?

Phillyboijr (San Jose, California)

Hi Tim, could you please tell me the 411 with Sean Lee. Reading between the lines the past few weeks (and end of preseason) it seems as though the Cowboys' coaching staff has soured a bit on Lee's ability. Am I correct in this assumption? Not factoring in his recent injury issues, did they discover that he's not as good as advertised or something? Thanks.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:21 PM)

I don't think they soured on his ability. They just thought he'd be ready to contribute right away and were wrong. They still believe he has a bright future.

Joe G (San Marcos, TX)

Do you see the Cowboys utilizing Dez Bryant more in the vertical game more sooner then later?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:23 PM)

That started on Sunday. Romo took three shots downfield to Dez Bryant. He made a spectacular catch on one but landed out of bounds. The other was a touchdown called back because he ran out of bounds earlier in the route. The other was a 30-yard gain. They'll take more shots to Bryant. Romo has definitely been impressed with Bryant's ability to catch anything close to him.

Alex Segoviano (Guanajuato, Mexico.)

Hi Tim, cheers from Mexico.After the loss against the Bears, it was hard to point someone to blame but the coaching staff. Do you think they have learned the lesson about how to prepare a game in terms of balance, game plan and motivation?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:24 PM)

I'm not a Garrett apologist, but I disagree with your take. When you average only 1.8 yards per carry, it's tough to not abandon the run. That wasn't the game plan. It was an adjustment based on results.

LL (VA)

Tim,Please rank the teams in the NFC East as we stand right now.....

Tim MacMahon
  (3:25 PM)

Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins. But I won't really be sold on Philly until I see the Eagles beat a quality opponent. I still think Dallas wins the division again.

Danny (Tulsa, OK)

Hey Tim, what are the chances that the Cowboys fall back mentally again after the BYE week? We've seen what the Cowboys are capable of and I think if they put their mind to it this team can go 14-2. I'm just worried of another mental lapse. What do you think?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:27 PM)

Recent history indicates the Cowboys will be ready to roll after the bye. They are 3-0 coming off byes under Wade Phillips, with two of those wins coming by double figures. Then again, recent history showed they'd have a strong September. They were 9-2 in September under Phillips before this season.

Alex (nj)

Seeing that we are playing cj2k in two weeks, how do you think the cowboys would have looked if we drafted him over Felix in the first round

Tim MacMahon
  (3:29 PM)

A heck of a lot better. But you could say that about Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles, too. Maybe even Matt Forte.

Aaron (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Are you in the 'flash in the pan' or 'sign of things to come' camp in regards to Roy Williams' week 3 performance? Also, IF he turns out to have a productive season (ex: 900 yds, 10 td) do the Cowboys keep him next year or cut him due to his contract?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:31 PM)

Flash in the pan is a bit strong, but don't hold your breath for another 100-yard, two-TD games. I think Williams can have a 50-catch, 800-yard, 8-TD season. The CBA negotiations might have an impact on whether Williams is back next season. It might make sense to keep him if cutting him means a major cap hit. He isn't guaranteed any more money, but the bonuses he has been paid would accelerate onto next season's cap if he's cut.

Craig Young (Savannah, Georgia)

Should the Cowboys consider moving Barry Church to the nickle lb position? He is an excellent tackler and should be able to cover the TE.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:32 PM)

It's an idea worth considering and something I'll ask Wade Phillips about this afternoon. Check the blog for his answer.

jennifer (washington dc)

Next week the Cowboys play on the same day as a Rangers playoff game. Will they move the cowboys game to noon?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:32 PM)

It's not up to the Cowboys. It's up to CBS, and I don't think they care about the Rangers' playoff game.

Kyle (East Brunswick, NJ)

Do you think Joe Decamillis should and/or could be the next HC of the Cowboys? He seems to get through to the players.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:33 PM)

I think Joe D. merits consideration as a head coaching candidate, whether it's here or elsewhere. Baltimore's John Harbaugh is proof that a special teams coach can make the transition to a successful head coach. There is no doubt about Joe D's ability to motivate.

Choppy (Charlotte, NC)

I was hoping to see Victor Butler more as a pass rush specialist. In prior years you would see Greg Ellis, Ware and Spencer all on the field together. Could they do that with Ellis, Spencer and Butler? They seem to be relying on the blitzes a little too much.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:34 PM)

That package is a possibility, but what the Cowboys really need is for Butler to progress to the point where the coaches are comfortable giving Ware and Spencer an occasional breather. I think he's close.

Mike (VA)

I don't think the coaches are to blame for the issues so far this year. We have talented players that lack leadership, discipline and motivation. It's their job to earn their salary and play hard every week. Houston was a good example. What are your thoughts on getting this potentially talented team to look short term (game by game) and not long term (Super Bowl in Dallas)?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:35 PM)

That message seems to have sunk in after they opened the season with two losses.

Jim (El Paso, TX)

Tim - please give us some insight into the thinking about Buehler. We know the pros (strong leg) and the cons (needs confidence) of a young kicker and the fact that Jerry wants to be patient. But does the team really think he'll be a kicker in weeks 12-17 who can make a clutch kick on the road to win a game? Thanks

Tim MacMahon
  (3:37 PM)

They're committed to Buehler. They believe he has a chance to be very good if he continues his development. They won't make a change unless his performance pushes their hand. They're breathing a lot easier after he came through in Houston. The 49-yarder before the half -- and after a long review that could have iced him -- was huge.

JS Cowboy (NY)

Only in Valley Ranch would a 55K dinner be a 2 day story there, Dez should have waited for 2 weeks to have it

Tim MacMahon
  (3:38 PM)

My suggestion would have been to invite the regular Valley Ranch media on the condition that it would have been off the record.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:38 PM)

With that, we'll wrap it up. Thanks for joining me. If you've got any pressing questions I didn't answer, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @espn_macmahon