Opposite Sideline: Defense, Dez and Romo
The lowdown on the Green Bay Packers' next opponent from a beat writer who covers the team.
The Green Bay Packers take on a surging Dallas Cowboys team that has won four straight in a late Sunday afternoon game at Lambeau Field.
1. The preseason narrative on the Cowboys was that they needed to survive the first month of the season with so many personnel issues on the defensive side of the ball. How has Rod Marinelli gotten his unit playing such solid football to open the season?
"Since the offseason program started, the defense has felt disrespected by how much everyone has said the offense would have to carry them. Whatever it takes to get you fired up, I guess, because the offense is without question the strength of this team. Their ability to get early leads and possess the ball for long periods of time has helped the defense significantly. They don’t have the talent to be an elite defense, but if they can stay healthy, their effort can keep them in the middle of the pack. And with the Cowboys' offense, a middle-of-the-pack defense should be good enough to win most Sundays."
2. So much is being made nationally of the eventual decision the Cowboys will have to make once Tony Romo is healthy. As someone who is around the team every day, do you think they would sit Dak Prescott down even with his stellar play to open the season?
"I’ve said since Week 1 that it doesn’t matter what Prescott does, Romo will be the starter when he’s ready to return, so I’m sticking with that. Jason Garrett is extremely loyal and I think he'll elect to go with Romo when he's ready. Prescott has exceeded expectations and he appears to be the future of the franchise. But like Prescott said Wednesday, this is still Romo’s team. I do think Prescott’s success buys Romo more time to recover. They won’t have to rush him back like they did last year. Romo has been doing more throwing and rehab work each week. I think he's back as the starter by Week 9 at Cleveland."
3. How much, if at all, does the Cowboys' offense change if Dez Bryant is able to go Sunday? Does he become a featured part or do they use him in a more complementary role to the excellent running game?
"If Bryant feels even a little limited, he won’t play Sunday. He’ll wait and come back after the bye. If he’s out there he’ll be their primary target in the passing game. But this is a run-first offense, so don’t expect to see him targeted 10-12 times like an Antonio Brown or A.J. Green. Prescott will look for him when he’s not doubled. If there’s a safety over the top, forget it. He’ll dump it down to Cole Beasley or Jason Witten and take the first down over the big play. That’s probably where the passing game is most different with Prescott instead of Romo. Prescott won’t take the risks that Romo will."