Here's our weekly look at the Seahawks' opponent with five questions on the Dallas Cowboys answered by longtime beat reporter Mike Fisher.
Time for our weekly look at the Seahawks’ upcoming opponent, the Dallas Cowboys.
Answering five questions for us about the Cowboys is Mike Fisher, who has covered the NFL for 32 years, the last 26 covering the Dallas Cowboys. He is the senior columnist for CowboysHQ.com and the Cowboys insider on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. Follow Fisher on Twitter here.
Q1: Dallas is 2-0 in games Tony Romo and 0-4 without him. Is that solely to explain for the record?
A: There are 1,000 links in the chain of success — and of failure. But yes, Dallas has for the last year-plus enjoyed the benefits of a QB that performed on a level only exceeded by Aaron Rodgers. Romo led the NFL in passer rating, QB rating, completion percentage, TD percentage, third-down conversion percentage and yards per attempt while becoming just one of three QBs to ever have nine straight years with a 90-plus passer rating. Dallas has two bus drivers available behind him. No offense to this week’s starter Matt Cassel, or his predecessor Brandon Weeden, but … there are only five or seven or 12 (or whatever number) of great Romo-level QBs in the world. It’s easier to be an astronaut than it is to be a great NFL QB. So yes. Dallas would be better than 2-4 if it had its best player at the game’s most important position.
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Q2: It sounds like Dez Bryant could be back this week — how would that change things?
A: Dez told me that while he was listed as “limited’ on Wednesday in his first real practice since breaking the bone in his foot six weeks ago, his plan is to “go, go, go.” This is one of those “heartbeat guys” — the entire organization feeds off not only his brilliant talent, but also his increasingly well-funneled passion. Coach Jason Garrett suggests that the bone scans are all positive on his healing … and if Bryant’s foot is fully healed, Dallas’ offense can at least be partially healed.
Q3: It seems like the offensive line hasn’t played quite to the level of 2014. Is that perception accurate and if so,why has that been the case?
A: Prior to the Giants game, the accusations against the Dallas O-line were valid. It helped last Sunday that he had help from tight end Jason Witten and tight end James Hanna. There is talent in there, for sure; Tyron Smith (left tackle), Travis Frederick (center) and Zack Martin (right guard) are blue-clip but also blue-collar. The numbers might start evening out here; after the Giants game, Dallas is now averaging 4.5 yards per carry (down from last year’s 4.6) and has a top-10 (by the total numbers) running game. And with a non-Romo at QB, they will need an elite running game against Seattle and beyond.
Q4: We’ve heard a lot all week about the Greg Hardy situation. How do you think that will impact anything on the field Sunday?
A: I’m able to separate the art from the artist. John Lennon of the Beatles was a self-admitted chronic abuser of women but I don’t angrily shut off the radio when “Imagine” comes on. In my dealings with Hardy I find him to be fascinating and engaging and complicated … probably like most other humans.
And on the field? He’s about as good as it gets. Dating back to the end of his Carolina career and the start in Dallas, Hardy has 12 sacks in his last NFL games. Seattle will need to throw multiple bodies at him … or else.
Q5: Finally, how critical is Sunday’s game for the Cowboys — sounds like the Seahawks could be walking into an interesting situation?
A: I asked Jerry Jones what he sees when he looks at the NFC East standings in hopes of being a playoff team and he said, “Daunting. And yet … The Cowboys are situated in a bad division featuring the Giants pedigree and the Eagles Chip Kelly annointing oil and in the end, this thing could potentially be won with a 9-7 or 8-8 record. Romo can come back on Nov. 22 at Miami. The Cowboys, losers of four straight, have to figure out a way to win at least one or two games before that time. Their biggest problem is how well Seattle is playing (revealed in advanced stats that show the Seahawks to remain elite in so many categories) and how well-rested Seattle should be playing with 10 days off.