Six Ways the Cowboys can Win
If the Cowboys hope to win Sunday night and move into the playoffs for the first time since 2009, they’ll have to come up with some good luck, a little magic and creativity. The team they’re facing, the Eagles, are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now and very few expect Dallas to leave AT&T Stadium with a W Sunday. But there is always hope. As bad as the Cowboys have been in December and, winner take all games, the Eagles aren’t much better in recent years. They lost wild card playoff games in 2009 and 2010 when they thought they were a Super Bowl quality team.
The Cowboys are underdogs Sunday mostly because Tony Romo isn’t expected to play. If he does, it might be on a limited basis or a much different Romo than we’re used to. But there is a glimmer of hope, even with Kyle Orton at quarterback if the Cowboys can do these six things, they just might take the monkey off of Jason Garrett’s back.
1. Don’t ask too much of Kyle Orton. Sure, Orton has started almost 70 NFL games in his career but it almost seems like ancient history now. He’s only thrown 15 passes in regular season games over the past two years. A weeks worth of practices–even on Christmas day–won’t shake off that much rust. The strategy should be simple; give the ball to DeMarco Murray a lot and only have Orton throw safe passes. Just keep moving the sticks and keep the Eagles defense on the field. Orton is smart enough not to put his team in a hole so Garrett and Bill Callahan need to call a “safe” game with only a handful of surprises. After that, let the cards fall where they may.
2. DeMarco ALL day long. Murray should get at least 24 carries in this game and 30 shouldn’t be out of the question. He’s averaging over 6.1 yards a carry over the past 5 games but they haven’t kept giving him the ball. The Cowboys haven’t lost this year when Murray gets at least 20 carries. Not only can they move the ball with Murray but the Eagles defense is susceptible. Dallas may be 32nd in the league in defense but the Eagles aren’t much better, ranked 30th. Don’t let the Eagles offense get their hands on the ball.
3. Get turnovers. Monty Kiffin may not be around next year, so he should design a defense to go out in a blaze of glory. They don’t need to be reckless but study the opening game against the Giants or the earlier season win over the Eagles and see where they forced turnovers. If Dallas can frustrate the Nick Foles and company early, they can control the momentum and make Phily panic.
4. Dominate special teams. No doubt the Cowboys defense can’t be counted on to hold the Eagles to 10 points, but winning the field position battle will at least level the field. Dwayne Harris will be back returning kickoffs and punts and if he can have a few good returns and not keep Orton in the shadow of his own goal posts, it will be a huge psychological boost.
5. If it’s not Murray, get it to Dez. You know Bryant wants the damn ball, he’s begging for it. Garrett needs to give Dez a little one-on-one pep talk just before kickoff and tell him how much they need him. He’s the only guy on the Cowboys who can carry the offense, so load him up and ride him like Secretariat. Dez and DeMarco should be totally exhausted when the games over. Rely on those two all day and if it still isn’t enough to work, you went out riding your two best players.
6. Get after Foles. Foles played high school ball at the same school at Drew Brees down in Austin. He’s love to end the Cowboys season and he’s playing as well as any quarterback in the league over the past 6 weeks. A blind man can see that the Cowboys can’t cover anyone, Brandon Carr has become very average, so don’t count on that changing Sunday. Kiffin needs to send the house at Foles. Give him different looks and blitzes all night. If he hits the open guy, Cowboys lose but don’t just let him sit back there for 6 seconds and pick the secondary apart…because he will.
That’s it, a half dozen things to focus on and by midnight Sunday, the Cowboys will be heading to the playoffs. If not, they turn into one nasty pumpkin.