Cowboys Vs. Redskins: Pregame Observations

Cowboys, Skins kick off Sunday at 7 p.m. on NBC

I can't get a read on this Cowboys defensive team.  I must admit after riding on the charter here with them they seem ready.  They seem to understand the gravity of the moment.

They're 5-4 and tied for last in the division and playing their arch rival literally for their playoff lives!  "I packed my gangster, I brought it with me, I'm ready."  Cowboys linebacker Kevin Burnett told me that in the lobby of the Cowboys hotel last night in Arlington, Va.  

Burnett's remark was in response to me telling him the Cowboys have lost that sense of "nasty" on defense.  It's an attitude, of playing with a certain velocity, ferocity and an overall I hate you and I'm here to hurt you mentality that great defenses always have.

The Steelers have it, Ravens, Giants, Eagles, Titans, Bears, Bucs, you know you'll get a very physical game from their defenses.  Do you know that about the 2008 Cowboys?  

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Or will the Redskins re-expose a lack of "nasty" on the part of the Cowboys up front that began the 'Boys slide from preseason Super Bowl favorites to struggling to make the playoffs, let alone win a playoff game.

"Did the rest of your team bring their gangster?"  I asked Burnett.  He shrugged his shoulders and sighed, "I hope so, we have to have it! I hope everybody brought theirs, but I don't know." 

I wanted more hope from KB but he was being honest, the Cowboys have question marks, they also have talent, swagger and when they execute an ability to strike fear in an opponent.  

Remember, this is Washington. The Redskins aren't scared, they don't fear their rival and no shortage of 'Skins fans have told me as much about every two minutes or so while here! 

Whether it's a since of nasty or gangster or just a gasty gangster in their luggage, Cowboy's D better had packed something extra for this game or they're returning home at 3:45am a 5-5 team, with a loss in that luggage.

OFFENSE: I didn't forget you!

"We just need to be physical, it's about whoopin the man in front of you period."  That's what Cowboy's RB Coach Skip Peete told me in the elevator regarding what the offense needs to do to get back on track.  

Notice Coach Peete didn't talk about 'The Return of Romo' he didn't even address it, though it seems everyone else is watching what the man with the magic pinkie will do tonight.  Tony Romo does have pressure to perform but it's pressure from the Skins D-line that concerns Peete.  Like their counterparts on Defense, the powerful Cowboys offensive line has gotten it handed to them of late by every D-line they've faced. 

Cowboys O-Line use to have that nasty attitude too. Remember the days of Williams, Newton and Allen?  If you were standing by a pile with a different color jersey on, you got hit!  If it was a second after the whistle, so be it!  "Man the league is getting out of hand with the fines, $50,000???!!!" Linebacker Kevin Burnett talked with me about that too.  Don''t think players haven't noticed and many more of them are like Burnett where $50,000 is serious CASH!   I told him if refs are calling things petty, you might as well get your money's worth.  "True, we just need this win, it's all out for us," said Burnett. 

Back to coach Peete, "the most physical team will win, it's that  simple. That's all this will come down to, being physical."  Again notice, nothing about Romo, TO, WILLIAMS starting at WR, Whitten's rib, Barber, their performances will have everything to do with what happens up front.

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