With opening night just around the corner, and the New York Jets playing home to the Dallas Cowboys, The Jet Press sat down with Steven Mullenax, Lead Writer for The Landry Hat, to get his take on all things Cowboys. In honor of former Jets QB Browning Nagle, we presented 8 questions to Steven.
1. Is Tony Romo ready to become a top QB?
SM – It’s now or never for Romo. One of the major criticisms of the 9th year veteran is his leadership in the locker room and in the huddle. During the NFL lockout, Romo stepped up and organized all his team’s workouts. That new found confidence has poured over into training camp and into the preseason. He certainly has all the tools to be successful. It’s now more about the mental game and how he deals with all the pressure that comes with being him.
2. What’s happening with the Cowboys cornerbacks and their injuries?
SM – Terrence Newman is hurt. It doesn’t look like he’ll play Sunday night. The coaches are optimistic that Mike Jenkins will be good to go. He participated in pre-game warm-ups during the final preseason game, and he looked ready. Orlando Scandrick, who just signed a big contract extension, should be the other starting corner. Alan Ball, last year’s starting free safety, has moved back to CB and will back them up.
3. Rob Ryan is the first year defensive coordinator for the Cowboys. Has the team had enough time to learn his new defensive system?
SM – The quick answer is no. But I don’t think anyone expected them to learn the new system with the shorten amount of time they had. What’s helped has been the additions of DE Kenyon Coleman and S Abram Elam. They both played under Coach Rob Ryan last year in Cleveland. Knowing the scheme already, they’ve helped to speed up the process. But it was clear in the preseason that there will probably be some learning curve issues during the first few games of this season.
4. Is RB Felix Jones the next star of the NFL?
SM – Before the preseason, I would have said no. The main reason is that, since his various injuries, I haven’t seen the quickness and speed he showed in his rookie season. But after this preseason, I have to say yes. Jones showed surprising agility, quickness, and a hard nose running style I haven’t seen from him before. If he can stay healthy, and our offensive line opens some holes, Jones can be huge for us this year.
5. Who is a player the Jets defense needs to worry about?
SM – I think there’s two: Felix Jones and Jason Witten. Jones, for all the reasons previously mentioned and the Jets defensive line issues. But Witten is arguably the best overall tight end in the NFL. He has a knack for finding open space and Romo trusts him completely. While Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are being covered by your outstanding secondary, Witten will be killing it underneath.
6. Who is a player the Cowboys are worried about on the Jets?
SM – Mark Sanchez. The key to our new defensive scheme is creating pressure on the quarterback and confusing him with different looks. If Sanchez can play through that, and be consistent, then it will be a long night for our secondary.
7. Predictions for the game?
SM – Most away games are already tough. Now combine that with it being at night, the season opener, on national television, and the anniversary of 9/11. Now that’s double tough! But I do see Dallas making a game of it. 17-14, Jets.
8. Predictions for the Cowboys this season?
SM – Based on the schedule, I’d have to say 9-7. They’ll have a chance at a wild card playoff berth.