Packers Periscope: Week 15 at Dallas Cowboys

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The Past: In reality, the Packers and Cowboys aren’t all that different; both are storied franchises whose heydays came after hiring relatively unknown New York Giants coordinators.  Both had a renaissance of sorts in the 80s and 90s; Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin for the Cowboys and Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre, Reggie White and Desmond Howard for the Packers both lead their respective teams back into relevance.  Both have been successful franchises in the last couple years; obviously Green Bay boasts a Super Bowl over the last couple of years that the Cowboys have no answer for but to call the franchise “unsuccessful” would be glossing over a decent team who are still the highest grossing franchise in the league.

While the Packers and Cowboys have only played each other 24 times in NFL history; perhaps the most historic game of all time occurred in New Years eve, 1967 where the temperature dropped -15F and an unassuming quarterback from Alabama drafted in the 17th round quarterback sneaked his way into the hearts of Packers nation and became a legend.

The Cowboys would probably like to forget the last time they played the Packers, a 45-7 demolition at Lambeau Field that would ultimately lead to the firing of then head coach Wade Phillips, which was punctualized by several coaching mistakes which ultimately lead to a bad call on a fumble returned for a special teams touchdown being unchallenged because the Cowboys had already wasted all their timeouts.  After that, the entire team simply gave up and let the Packers had their way with the Cowboys; Clay Matthews recorded sack/interception returned for a touchdown while James Jones logged 123 yards and a touchdown on 8 receptions.

The Present: Both the Packers and Cowboys are at a crossroads of sorts for their playoff hopes.  Frankly neither should really be in the discussion; the Packers are a completely different team without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Cowboys have been wildly inconsistent, almost beating the Peyton Manning lead Denver Broncos but getting blown out by the Bears last week with a backup quarterback that’s just been benched for Jay Cutler.  Still the Packers are 6-6-1 and have a shot to get into the playoffs (especially if the Lions continue to play poorly) while the Cowboys are 7-6 and again are one game out from 1st place in the NFC East.  However in a league of parity, both teams with essentially .500 records are still in the playoff hunts with a reasonable chance of actually getting in says platitudes about how a team’s fortunes can change in a matter of moments.

As for the teams themselves, both Dallas and Green Bay boast top 10 offenses (even without Aaron Rodgers according to FootballOutsiders) and two of the worst defenses in the league (30th and 31st) while the Cowboys have a considerably better special teams unit (8th vs. 21st, however special teams makes up maybe 10% of a team’s production).  Essentially, this could be another game where the defense that steps up and manages to slow down the other teams offense more will win.  Both Dallas and Green Bay will attempt to run a more balanced offense with some no huddle sprinkled in.

The Future: The Dallas Cowboys are in some serious trouble and in the next couple years the Cowboys will have to completely dismantle team and go into full rebuilding mode (i.e. the type that takes several seasons to complete).  The Cowboys have perhaps the worst cap situation in the league, with multiple questionable signings and resignings of veteran players (such as franchising Anthony Spencer and the contract paid out to players like Roy Williams and Doug Free in recent years.)  Frankly the opinion around the league is that owner Jerry Jones is getting to the point in his life/career where he feels he doesn’t have many years left as the Cowboys owner and wants one last Super Bowl to hang his hat on before he rides off into the sunset.  The Cowboys are in a very similar situation to the Detroit Lions, but while the Lions have the convenient alibi of being saddled with ludicrous contracts of old CBA high first round draft picks, the Dallas Cowboys cap woes are almost entirely self inflicted.

While the cap situation in Dallas is severe, the Cowboys will probably be able to massage their contracts for maybe another year or two of cap compliance before the whole situation falls apart.  As such, the team and most importantly ownership are desperate to win now and that’s perhaps the biggest difference between these two teams; the feeling that Ted Thompson exudes is always one where the next year will always be better while Jerry Jones is throwing away future stability for a chance of success now.  Whether or not this plan will ultimately prove fruitful has yet to be seen, however the Packers have won one Super Bowl while looking forward while the Cowboys are still looking to justify their exorbitant contracts year after year.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • GBPDAN

    Both teams have top 10 offenses, but the nod goes to Dallas at home if Flynn plays. I like that MM is playing games with Dallas as far as who will Start, i didnt think Rodgers would go this week, but it looks like it will come down to a bone scan today? We’ll see how this unfolds soon…Go Pack

  • Big T

    As much as I dislike the Cowboys and Tony Homo, he is a Brett Favre like qb and could easily dismantle our defense…

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Or he could throw up 5 interceptions like Favre, I tend to think that quarterbacks that embrace the “gunslinger” mantra tend to get very streaky, sometimes everything goes there way and they make crazy stick throws, other times trying to stick a ball between three defenders turns out how it usually should i.e. a turnover.

      • Barutan Seijin

        Have you watched his games this year? He’s playing in a controlled fashion. He has 27 TDs to 7 INTs.

        Besides, if anyone is going to be racking up INTs on a QB, it’s not going to be the Packers and their ball-avoiding secondary.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be surprised if he throws up 3 interceptions. Sooner or later his numbers will fall back down to his career average of 2TD:1INT, hopefully he regresses back to the norm against the Packers.

    • Stroh

      And he could just as easily give the Packers the ball over and over and over again. Yes he is a Favre type QB, good and bad!

      • Archie

        Actually, ROMO is plus 12 on TOs this year.

        • Stroh

          SO was Favre most of the time. 30 TD’s and 18 INT’s wasn’t all that unusual for Favre, nor I doubt Romo.

    • Dobber

      Tony Romo has not been a gamewinning QB this season. He’s had 2 very good games and 1 huge game. He’s been a game manager much more than anything else, and has been pedestrian since Dez Bryant hurt his back.

      That said, he gives his team a chance to win, and he’s better than Matt Flynn. Now that Rodgers is officially “out”, I can say that I don’t hold much hope for this week’s game. It helps that Sean Lee is out for Dallas, which means their D is even more lost than it would be otherwise.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        Romo has always been sort of hit or miss, again going back to my gunslinger analysis, he can be really good or really bad and everything in between. I don’t think maybe people are expecting the Packers to win, but a good showing would ease a lot of concerns. The last thing the Packers need is another blowout like to the Lions.

      • Stroh

        Romo hasn’t been a game winning QB his entire career! His teams have been .500 for his entire career. Its hardly just this year. He has a lot of Favre in him in terms of being a gunslinger, however he lacks Favres leadership and playmaking ability. He’s a scaled down Favre in every way.

  • J204

    I am waiting for just that one game where this D rises to the challenge and dominates just once all game. They have yet to do that vs a quality opponent.. Because I said GB would lose last week I will say they lose again.. Lets keep the streak going! Dallas 30-17

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I’d say against the Bengals and earlier on they were doing quite well. Obviously they had a defensive meltdown since then, but they were 3rd against the run and better against the pass than their ranking indicated (mostly due to RGIII and the like running up the yards while the defensive milked the clock).

      • Dobber

        When the offense can’t get the D a breather, and when the offense can’t help to make the opposition one-dimensional, the Packers D isn’t very good. It’s still the same D that was playing back then against Cinci and Detroit (at home), they’re just exposed in a way they weren’t being exposed before.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          I agree, Rodgers does way more than just play on offense, he changes the flavor of the defense as well and it’s obvious that the defense is also built with a star quarterback in mind.

        • Archie

          Very true.

  • Big T

    Just doesn’t appear to be any motivation with the Packer players, with the exception, Jonny Jolly. When Brett Favre played you could tell if they were going to win or lose by the look in his eyes. When he had the deer in the headlight look, you were going to lose everytime. That deer in the headlight look is all you see out of the majority of Packer players. (they know/feel that they are ready to get smashed) And the opposing team can smell blood and ATTACK the weaker unmotivated opponet. I wish Vince Lombardi could come back just for one day. Do you think he would kick the living crap out of MM and TT? I do…

    • Thomas Hobbes

      It’s kinda hard to be motivated when there’s nothing to be optimistic about. You see it with tons of teams every year that have clearly lost the incentive to win. Atlanta, Washington and Houston all have that air. Last year it was Kansas City, Jacksonville and Cleveland.

      To put it another way, are you still as excited to watch Packers games when you know they’ll likely lose? Probably not and the players feel the same way, no matter how invested they are.

  • Big O

    I love that snapshot of Star going over the goal line to beat Dallas,but I’d be ecstatic if we could do that Sun., like four or five times!!!! Really I would, HONEST!!!! GO PACK!!!

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Well, any quarterback that sneaks 5 touchdowns is likely to be killed now so maybe Lacy dive or a touchdown reception would be nice.

      • Big O

        Ya you do have a good point there, let’s try it your way!!!

      • Big O

        asked for and recieved!! 5 TDS and Lasy had the big one nice call Thomas 37-36 lets work it again next week!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    “Both top 10 offenses and 30th/31st ranked defenses”

    How is it NOT time to fire Capers after this year? The defense has been mediocre at best for SO long… other than 2010, when’s the last good defense GB had? 1997?

    Sad.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I don’t think anyone is surprised that Capers is on the hot seat, my opinion has always been that they wouldn’t fire Capers mid-season and at this point I doubt they would Capers with only a couple games to go, unless they think someone in house is ready to become the defensive coordinator.

    • Archie

      It will continue for as long as the majority of Packer fans go along with it. Judging by these boards. that point is still A WAYS OFF. Too many believe in management simply because, well, err, they are management and therefore they must be more qualified than anyone else. Three years of horrid defense should be enough for any rational person to come to the conclusion that enough is enough, time for a change. To think otherwise is irrational.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        Traditional thinking usually says that winning a Super Bowl affords a front office and coaching staff around 5 years of “leeway” before ownership/the media starts making a fuss. It’s really only been 3 years since the Packers won the Super Bowl and they have a pretty good argument on why things haven’t turned out so well; namely injuries (which are largely random) and losing some tight games where they probably shouldn’t.

        In my opinion, losing Rodgers this year essentially covers up for all the issues that showed up this year. Obviously offensive production will decline but the defense was also designed to feature a star quarterback; realistically, the bend but don’t break defensive philosophy doesn’t work if your offense can’t load up on points.

  • WKUPackFan

    Motivation and a deer in the headlights look are impossible to judge from a TV screen. Fans are emotionally invested in the game, thus they want the players and coaches to be appear to be also. In reality, cool headed preparation and execution provide the best way to success in the NFL. Of course, the players and coaches must have sufficient initial motivation to perform their tasks, especially in all the offseason work. However, the “rah-rah” stuff is, for the most part, highly overrated as a determining factor of success.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I tend to agree, however rah-rah stuff does work to some extent, or at least the players think it works and perhaps it does through placebo effect. You see players like Matt Elam calling Calvin Johnson “old” or Josh Sitton calling out the Lions defensive line, it’s not like these guys aren’t media savy at this point so they are doing this on purpose.

      • Tarynfor12

        “You see players like Matt Elam calling Calvin Johnson “old” or Josh Sitton calling out the Lions defensive line”..

        Sticks and stones may break some bones but names will never hurt me.

        We have no ‘sticks or stones’but we are making ‘names’ for ourselves…just not the way we would prefer.

        If we only had a ‘ALI’ who could actually back up his talk…floating and stinging and stuff like that.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          Well the idea is not necessarily to “back up the claim” all the time. In Josh Sitton’s instance, I would wager that he was mostly trying to bias the refs into calling more penalties on the Lions D-line, it’s the sort of meta-gamesmanship that Jim Harbaugh employs all the time, i.e. the whole “Clay Matthews open handed punch” rant. I see no reason why players and coaches shouldn’t try bias factors in their favor if they can pull it off.

      • WKUPackFan

        You’re right Thomas. Sitton’s comments were most likely an attempt to get the commonly perceived undisciplined Detroit DLine to make mental errors, sort of reverse phycology. It didn’t work, even Suh had enough sense to gently deposit Flynn to the ground, but it was probably worth a try.

        • Dobber

          I think you’re giving Josh Sitton and Matt Elam too much credit.

          • Thomas Hobbes

            I don’t think you’re giving them enough credit. Sitton in particular is one of the better guards in the league and has no real reason to prop himself up. Also the Packers are very “media bland”, where they are trained not to say anything remotely news-worthy (outside maybe Finley who can’t seem to help himself). Sitton for sure is doing this on purpose and not just to piss off the Lions.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          I don’t think it could hurt. It’s not like either team has a healthy respect for the other, especially on the lines with the whole EDS vs. Suh stomp incident. The Lions and their fans probably can’t hate the Packers any more so it’s not like Sitton really added anything to the fire.

  • Archie

    Look for a repeat of the Turkey Day massacre this week, brought to you courtesy of our exceptionally well paid ass-clowns, TT & MM.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Every team is gonna get their ass handed to them, and it’s not like the Packers were predicted to beat the Lions anyways. I don’t think the Lions loss was any more of a massacre than say the Giants game last year.

  • WKUPackFan

    When I see the term a**-clown in a comment it immediately makes me think that the poster is highly intelligent, a person who probably scored a 36 on the ACT, possibly a MENSA member. The use of such terms always lends more credence to their opinions, and elevates the course of the discussion.

    • Big T

      You so prim and proper

  • Barutan Seijin

    Dallas has its No.1 QB starting, but GB’s will be starting Flynn.

    Romo is not the best QB, but he’s far from the worst — and he certainly is good enough to beat Matt Flynn. Flynn doesn’t have the arm to take advantage of the Cowboys’ weaknesses.

    • Dobber

      That’s about right. Unless Flynn is making big leaps week-by-week in the playbook, he’s nowhere close.

      The Packers can’t make any mistakes, and they’ll have to force a couple key ones out of the Doughboys to win.

    • Stroh

      Dallas will probably come into the game having watched last week and thinking Flynn can’t/won’t go deep. Its generally a sound philosophy… If they do, it is in the Packers best interests to take a couple shots deep early. Have to get them to stay out of 8 man in the box. Flynn may not have a big arm but it the Packers hit on a couple deep or down the sideline, it’ll open up the run and give Flynn better chances to complete the shorter throws again.

      Kinda odd to be saying this, but the Packers must pass deep to open the run. Completely the opposite of how we started the year!

      • Thomas Hobbes

        I think it kinda depends on Lacy. Ironically if Lacy is hobbled the Packers might have to throw it a lot more and maybe that will be a big enough wrench to get a touchdown or two.

        • Stroh

          Dallas should play 8 in the box from the beginning of the game. We haven’t been able to run successfully vs and 8 man box all year (really since Rodgers went down). They will keep almost everyone w/in 10-15 yds until the Packers can get them out of it. The Packers RB will find some holes cuz Dal D is that bad, but w/ an 8 man box they’ll probably contain the running game. Its on Flynn IMO to hit deep once or twice to change the way the D plays.

          Its not a fault of Lacy’s either way. Its more on the OL to allow him some room to run vs 8 in the box. They have to get a crease for him to get to the 2nd level.

  • Icebowler

    Jr. Jones says his Boys are going to do “something special” the last three weeks of the regular season. I hope their whole team is looking past the Packers to their Week 17 game against the Eagles. The Cowboys are all “questionable” due to mental frostbite from their game last Monday night in Chitown. If our D continues to play like it did in the second half last week and we have no more than one turnover, I think we can “deliver” something special to Junior Jerry’s Boys.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I’d pretty much ignore Jones, he’s also said that they’d be the first team to host a Super Bowl at home, that he wasn’t gonna fire Wade Phillips, that Roy Williams was a great wide receiver, Doug Free was a great left tackle etc. etc.