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Silver Star Nation: The First Test
(music) (whoosh) >>wess: welcome to the silver star nation special report.
I'm wess moore.
The wait is almost over for the dallas cowboys.
We are counting down to the divisional round matchup against the green bay packers.
We'll examine every angle of sunday's game this half hour.
Joining us as always our friends at the star, babe laufenberg and mickey spagnola.
We knew, guys, no matter the cowboys were going to play a team they've already played this season.
Dallas beat green bay 30 to 16 in week 6.
Things have changed since then.
What are some of the key matchups that you're watching for in this divisional game?
Babe, we'll start with you.
>>babe: boy i think probably not what everybody is not gonna be watching.
And that is the cowboys' running game gonna be better than the packers' passing game?
And if you recall in week 6 when they played earlier green bay turned the ball over, mickey, four times in that game.
They've turned it over once in the last seven.
And aaron rodgers hasn't thrown an interception in the last seven.
So that was very unpacker-like in that football game that they played the first time around.
>>mickey: and if you think about it really that was the big difference, the fact that the packers turned the ball over and the cowboys getting four takeaways.
What were the chances of that?
So they moved the ball on the cowboys.
Aaron rodgers threw the ball on the cowboys.
The problem was they turned the ball over.
So from a matchup standpoint it's that cowboys' defensive line against aaron rodgers and the cowboys' ability to score points on that packers' defense that hasn't been all that stout so far this season.
>>wess: as you guys mentioned, aaron rodgers had an up and down game the first time around, but he's been on fire recently.
What's the secret?
How do you get to aaron rodgers?
What do you do, babe?
>>babe: well, you mix it up and then you pray because when he's on, he's on, mickey.
We saw that against the new york giants that second half.
They booed him off the field in the first half.
And the second half they just could not stop aaron rodgers.
I will say this.
When you get to this time of year, number one, you're gonna face good teams. we know that.
These are playoff teams. you're now down to the final eight.
And number two, you're gonna face good quarterbacks.
And they've got a great one obviously coming in in aaron rodgers.
>>mickey: and babe, you know, to me, how do you stop him?
Well, you're not gonna defend all those wide receivers.
So to me you've gotta get pressure on him, but it's gotta be concerted pressure.
You can't have guys just chasin' all over the field because then he'll use his feet.
He'll get outside the pocket.
He'll extend the play.
So you wanna make sure you contain him in the pocket.
And then you have a chance to cover.
It's almost better to me babe is if you make him run the play he called (chuckling) >>mickey: instead of let him create in the pocket.
>>babe: well, he's tremendous at it.
You know that mickey.
And it was funny.
I talked to byron jones today in the cowboys' locker room, the cowboys' safety.
And i said there's a clock in your head.
And there is for db's as there is for quarterbacks in the pocket.
You get about 3 to 4 seconds, you know, the ball's gone as a db.
Or the ball, you better get the ball gone as a quarterback.
He said throw the clock out against aaron rodgers 'cause it could be 7, 8, 9 seconds.
And that's a, that's a tough row to hoe there.
>>mickey: and anthony brown pointed out to me that one touchdown pass against the giants.
I said it had to be 9 seconds.
He said it was actually 8.5 seconds.
>>mickey: he said so i'll give ya 9.
(chuckling) >>mickey: that's not what they want.
They wanna make sure that ball comes out in a hurry.
>>wess: history has shown the tea-, the hot team, the team with the hot hand has been able to make super bowl runs over the last few years.
Should this be a concern to dallas?
Is this the hot team, the packers?
>>babe: certainly it's a hot team, mickey.
And when you look at these playoffs, pittsburgh has won i believe 7 in a row, new england 8 in a row, green bay as we know 7 in a row.
So i think there's somethin' to be said, mickey, not only for the hot team, but those, the packers had to almost win out.
Well, they literally had to win out down the stretch to get into the playoffs.
So by definition it seems like you're always getting a hot football team.
Would you agree?
>>mickey: well, and do you agree with me that the cowboys are a pretty hot team if we >>babe: right.
>>mickey: throw out the last game of the season that they basically punted away?
They won 13 of 14 games.
So what's better?
13 of 14 or 8 straight?
Uh, 13 or 14's pretty darn good.
(chuckling) >>wess: guys, this could be a redemption game for the cowboys.
Of course their last playoff game ended in heartbreak in green bay two years ago.
What about motivation?
Is, is this going to factor into this game?
And especially dez bryant catch, no catch.
>>babe: well, i think they're all puttin' that behind 'em.
And if that is your motivation you're probably not motivating yourself in the right way.
The packers are big enough motivation.
The chance to go to an nfc championship game obviously with a win is a big enough motivation.
And i think if you're sittin' there, i know fans are still looking at it.
We're posting it on twitter.
We're seeing replays.
And you'll see it a hundred times before they kick it off on sunday of the dez catch, no catch.
But if as a player, and if dez bryant is thinkin' about it, well, he's not gettin' ready for the packers.
So jason garrett, as a matter of fact he said boy, that, he was asked that question.
And he said that's so long ago i don't even remember it.
>>mickey: i think the word he used is we're not being reflective about it.
>>mickey: and think about this.
Think about the number of players the cowboys have on the field, that will have on the field on sunday.
They weren't even here in 2014.
You know, dak, zeke, anthony brown, maliek collins.
I can go on and on.
Those guys weren't here.
As a matter of fact, when we were in the locker room early in the week and talkin' to 'em about that, a bunch of the guys gave us blank looks like you know what?
I really wasn't watchin' that game.
(chuckling) >>mickey: i had other things to do.
Hey, they were in college, you know?
So i don't know that a playoff game was, you know, on top of their priority list at that time.
>>babe: and that's, mick, i think i saw the number 26 cowboys are on the team today that were in that 2014 game, 25 packers.
So basically over half of the team has been shuffled off of your 53-man roster from just two years ago.
>>mickey: we probably remember it better than they do.
>>mickey: the fans remember it better than they do.
But if, if that's your source of your motivation then you're probably in the wrong line of work.
>>wess: well, let's hear from some of the players.
We'll send it over to tobin mcduff with more from the star.
>>toby: as the dallas cowboys prepare for sunday's kickoff with the green bay packers we caught up with some of the team to get their thoughts on this weeks' opponent.
>>the team that wins at the end is, you know, the teams that are out their best at the end.
And they, they've definitely, you know, peaked at the right time.
So um, you know, hopefully we'll be able to slow 'em down.
And i have confidence that we will.
>>tyrone: we got a team that's ready to go in for battle with each other and that's what we're gonna do.
I mean, can't really focus on the opponent and what they're doing, you know?
Just gotta play our side of the ball and hopefully we can, you know, put that, bring that to a halt.
>>just talk about how good this group is with >>morris: well, our group is pretty good, too, you know?
(chuckling) >>morris: and right now, you know, it's not about them.
It's about us and, you know, the way we're playin'.
We're playin' good football as well.
And you know, um, um, we just have to get, get after it on the front line.
And um, you know, we have to cover on the back end.
>>brandon: you know, the quarterback of course makin' a lot of plays, extendin' plays with his, with his legs and just his savviness in the pocket.
Um, but he has a lot of confidence in receivers and he's put 'em in position to make plays.
And those guys have been makin' plays.
So whether he plays or not it's the national football league.
They have a lot of guys capable of makin' plays as you saw last week.
So we're gonna be ready for whoever comes out.
>>tobin: this marks the 35th meeting between the two teams in this series.
Each team has won 17 times.
The packers in those 34 games have outscored the cowboys 780 to 777.
At the star in frisco for the silver star nation i'm tobin mcduff.
>>wess: what a series.
When we come back i'll speak with former green bay packers' tight end d.j.
Williams. he has some unique and really good insight into the packers and their stars.
We'll be right back.
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[sfx: bong] (whoosh) >>wess: the cowboys are spending the week scouting their opponents, the green bay packers.
We're doing a little advanced scouting of our own.
Joining us with some great insight former nfl tight end, former tight end for the green bay packers d.j.
Williams. >>d.j.: yes.
>>wess: cowboys got their hands full.
Very hot team obviously.
>>wess: you know aaron rodgers pretty well.
>>wess: this isn't crazy.
I mean i think jason garrett said it best on wednesday when he said you know what?
This guy's an mvp.
He's, it's not like he's on a hot streak.
He's always hot.
This is aaron rodgers.
>>d.j.: he's always hot.
And it's, it just blew my mind hearing people said that this guy is not aaron rodgers anymore.
He's falling off.
And even in the, when they were 4 and 6 just some of the throws he were makin', the plays that he was still able to make just missin' a couple passes here and there i was just like are y'all guys not seein' what i'm seein' on tape?
He's still aaron rodgers.
Once this team finally starts clickin' they're gonna be a handful to deal with.
And as it goes to say they're on a 7-game winning streak.
>>d.j.: and since then every game has been a, you know, win or go home, or type situation, 7 weeks in a row.
So very impressive.
Mvp i feel like hands down.
>>wess: what, what have you seen?
You talked about the clicking.
>>wess: the team started clicking.
What was the difference?
Why did they start clicking?
>>d.j.: i would say playin' with aaron, bein' in the meeting rooms, practice field, on the game film.
He is probably one of the quarterbacks that does best when he has chemistry with the guys on his football team.
You know, when i played with him we had greg jennings, donald driver, jordy nelson, jermichael finley.
These guys had been with him from day one.
So he knew without even really lookin' at their routes what they were gonna do even when situations caused in a scramble situations.
And watchin' earlier this year davante adams, he had a really hard time connecting with him.
That was the first half of the season.
Now that they're on the same page he's one of his number one targets.
And so once he can get trust in his guys and you click of having that chemistry factor he's almost unstoppable.
And for the past 7 weeks he has been.
>>wess: you mentioned jordy nelson.
If he can't go is this a huge deal for rodgers not having him there?
>>d.j.: i would say jordy nelson is aaron rodgers' number one guy.
I've never seen two people on the same page as much as aaron rodgers and jordy nelson.
I've never seen another player that aaron walked up to and said man, i was wrong on that.
You were right.
I mean, he doesn't say that to anybody because most of the time aaron rodgers is always right.
And so i would say outside of aaron, jordy nelson probably knows the offense just as good if not better than the quarterback himself.
So not having him on the football field is really gonna be a, or depending on how much he plays with his broken ribs will play a big difference in the game.
Can you imagine playin' with a couple broken ribs?
(chuckling) >>d.j.: i mean, jordy is a, he's, he's a country boy, you know?
He was a walk-on at kansas state and so he knows about hard work, what it takes to get there.
I'd be very surprised to see him not, you know, go above and beyond to make sure he's out there tryin' to make plays.
>>wess: if he can't go who do you look to step up in his place?
>>d.j.: i guess what happened last week with the emergence of randall cobb who was absent with an ankle injury.
He got back on the football field.
Three touchdowns, catchin' that hail, mary there right before halftime.
He's a very dynamic middle of the field player.
You would compare, compare him to your guy, cole beasley, a very, very hard matchup in the middle of the field.
And a guy that has come to grow a big friendship off the field with aaron rodgers as well.
So you talk about two guys who have the chemistry on and off the field goes to show when he's healthy they're a big duo.
>>wess: packers are known for their tight ends.
You were a tight end for the packers.
>>wess: all of a sudden they have a resurgence at the tight end position.
>>wess: you saw that last week.
Rodgers and tight ends.
They kinda just go together, don't they?
I mean, the good thing about being a tight end with aaron rodgers on the football field is that the defense has to respect every single receiver on the football field.
So it'll be very hard to double on any specific player.
So when it comes to a tight end he's usually matched up with a middle linebacker or a safety that may be a little bit bigger.
And so when you have an athletic tight end like they do in green bay with jared cook >>wess: mmhmm.
>>d.j.: he causes a lot of mismatch opportunities for aaron rodgers.
And you talk about a guy that does need a lot of space to fit a ball into any kind of window, um, i can see why the d coordinator, and especially dallas fans are probably a little bit timid of seeing ar 12 comin' to town.
The giants had a little success when they came after rodgers in the first half.
>>wess: second half he tore 'em apart.
And it's well-known when you blitz rodgers he's really one of the best quarterbacks when dealin' with >>d.j.: mmhmm.
>>wess: what, what should the cowboys do?
Do you sit back and play coverage?
Do you come after him?
What's the game plan?
>>d.j.: i think you have to come after him.
You can't give him time.
You see what he does with time in the pocket.
I think a group that doesn't get a lot of credit on their team is their offensive line.
We saw last week how much time they gave him for, to somewhat scramble but stay in the pocket at the same time.
So uh, you have to bring extra guys to make sure that he doesn't have more than 4 seconds to throw the football because he is that type at halftime, you know, he's not yellin' at anybody.
The coaches get what do you see?
What do we need to fix?
And then he'll go up to receivers, on this one play hey, next third down just peek at me before the snap.
And he, he will literally peek at a receiver and just do a little nod and you know the ball's comin' because he knows the blitz comin' off the edge.
I mean, his football iq and what he goes through before the snap count is unheard of.
I've actually listened to it on a youtube clip.
It took like 10 minutes just for each play.
>>wess: great stuff, d.j.
Thank you, man.
>>d.j.: hey, no problem.
Williams, former packer giving us a little insight.
When we come back we'll break down the home field that's helped the cowboys this season more than ever.
(whoosh) (whoosh) >>wess: the cowboys are about to host the first ever divisional round playoff game at at&t stadium.
The last time they hosted a second round game was 10 years ago and a decade later it still looms over the franchise.
We're back with mickey and babe.
Guys, we talked about it last week, the 2007 divisional round loss to the giants.
It's hard to forget that one.
Just like this team, that team was 13 and 3, the number one seed.
Mickey, why did dallas lose that game?
What do they gotta do differently this week to avoid repeating history?
>>mickey: well, first of all, they need to score points.
When you get in the playoffs like this it's really hard to score 17 points like they did against the giants in 2007 and think you're gonna win a game.
The other thing they gotta do is be themselves.
See, what happened in that game if you go back and look is terrell owens was, had a high ankle sprain.
Probably shouldn't even played.
He couldn't hardly run.
I think he ended up catching four passes.
So the cowboys said okay, we're gonna run the ball.
But you know what they did?
They ran themselves to death.
They ended up with 100 yards rushing in the first half.
And that's not what they were.
Yeah, they ran the ball, but it was tony romo's show that year.
They were averaging almost 270 yards passing a game.
They ran for 113 yards in the first half and guess what?
It was 14-14.
All they did was wear out time, buy time for the giants to be able to score some points.
And, and, and all they did was score 17.
So to me they couldn't throw the ball well enough.
And when owens went down terry glenn, it was at the end of his career.
Patrick crayton didn't have a good game.
And he was havin' the nibble with jason witten.
So to me, be yourself.
If you threw the ball to get here, throw the ball to get here.
If you ran the ball to get here, run the ball.
>>babe: and wess, i hate to say this because they ran into a hot team because they're gonna run into another hot team this sunday in the green bay packers, but you look at that new york giants team and i think it may have been the greatest coaching job of any coach in the history of the nfl.
Think about what tom coughlin and those giants did in that 2007 playoffs.
They beat tampa bay on the road.
Then they came to texas stadium.
Beat a 13 and 3 dallas cowboys team that was the number one seed.
Then they went to green bay.
Beat a packers team a with brett favre that was13 and 3.
Beat them at green bay.
Then went on to the super bowl and beat a 17 and oh new england patriots team.
So that team, mickey, you talk about gettin' hot at the right time?
The giants were that team that year.
>>mickey: and they got hot defensively, too, wess.
One of the things they did was they got pressure on tony romo with their front four.
Everybody was lookin' at it and goin' oh, they're blitzin' the cowboys.
They were getting pressure with their front four 'cause they realize here's how we're gonna win or lose.
It's gonna be in tony romo's hands and we better do everything we can to take the quarterback away from the cowboys.
>>wess: at&t stadium hasn't always given the cowboys a huge home field advantage.
This year it's, it's changing.
It's getting loud.
The fans are doing their part.
You take away the fact that green bay's not at lambeau field.
They're not in the cold.
How big of an advantage, do you think it is an advantage this week in playing at at&t stadium for the cowboys?
>>babe: wess, i think you're exactly right.
It's become more of an advantage.
For awhile there the cowboys were better on the road than they were at home.
And i'll even go back to that 2014 season when they played the green bay packers at green bay.
Cowboys were 8 and oh on the road that year.
They were 4 and 4 at home.
This year they found a way to turn home field into home field advantage.
They were 7 and 1 at home.
And mickey, you were there for the detroit game, that final game of the season.
I had family in and i said too bad.
This game means nothing.
It's probably gonna be pretty dull.
That place was rocking on monday night against the detroit packers, probably the loudest, detroit lions, excuse me.
Probably the loudest i have heard it.
So i can only imagine what this sunday will be with the packers coming to town.
>>mickey: oh, absolutely.
And you know, it's funny how this works, too, when you have a good team a lot of times you have home field advantage.
You're getting everybody fired up.
You know, i can remember, wess, back in the day when the cowboys would get to play, and still do, by the way, thanksgiving day.
And everybody goes oh, it's a disadvantage to the oher team.
The cowboys always win.
They're playin' at home.
Well, if you go back and look (chuckling) >>mickey: when the cowboys had good teams they won on thanksgiving day.
When they had bad teams it didn't make any difference.
They lost on thanksgiving day.
So i think the cowboys have revved up their crowd by their play this year not so much that oh, they've been this way all the time and the cowboys just couldn't win.
The cowboys are much better this year, more consistent.
They went 7 and 1 at home.
>>mickey: or, and then what?
6 and 2 at i still don't count that >>babe: don't count the last, yeah.
>>mickey: last game.
And they were 6 and 1 on the road.
>>babe: well, and i think too, the infusion of the young guys.
It's, it's obviously energized this organization and this team and some of the older veteran players with zeke and dak.
But it's also, mickey, energized the fan base.
They haven't seen these guys and they're excited about 'em.
>>mickey: you know, i'm a little disappointed in jerry jones that he didn't come up with the idea to have somebody leap into the salvation army bucket to get everybody fired up.
(chuckling) >>babe: how do you know he didn't?
>>mickey: you don't think, yeah, right.
(chuckling) >>babe: how do you know he didn't?
>>mickey: he might've give a little under the table, right?
(chuckling) >>mickey: that fired up people around here more than anything else.
We gotta finish it up.
It's time for predictions.
Mickey, this green bay packers team is the one you thought that would give the cowboys the most problems. how do you feel about the game?
>>mickey: i still think they'll give 'em the most problems because they have the ability to score points.
And i think if you gotta win a playoff game and you need to score points, you need to score 30 maybe to win, that, that's a tough chore especially for a young quarterback.
I still think that they can play well enough to beat the green bay packers somehow, some way.
But they better not come in here with 20 points and think they're gonna win the game.
>>babe: and mick, last week you said you didn't wanna see the packers.
I said i didn't wanna see the giants.
For the first half i was right.
(chuckling) >>babe: i was watchin' the giants defense dismantle that green bay offense and i said ah, i'm gonna tell mickey i was right.
And then i watched the second half and i said turns out mickey was right.
But yeah, i think the big key here, wess, is cowboys obviously with the ground game.
Zeke rushed for 157 in that first game against green bay.
That's a, a lot to ask for in a playoff game.
But if he goes above the 100-yard mark that means he's probably got 20 to 25 carries.
That means cowboys are controlling the football.
And i do think they're gonna be able to run the ball on 'em, mickey, because they've run the ball on everyone this year.
And i do see the cowboys just winnin' this one 3, 4 points.
Somethin' like that, yeah.
>>mickey: if that cowboys' offensive line plays well and gives dak time and zeke room cowboys win this game.
>>wess: very quick.
Who do the cowboys want next week?
Atlanta or seattle?
(chuckling) >>babe: mick, you go ahead 'cause you were right last week.
>>mickey: i, i'm gonna keep saying this.
I'll take the team that doesn't score as many points on a consistent basis.
That means i don't wanna see atlanta.
They're averaging almost 34 points a game.
Seattle has struggled much of the year to score points especially when they're on the road.
>>mickey: so i'll take the seahawks.
The one thing that scares me about seattle they've been there, done that.
Russell wilson, pete carroll.
Mostly a lot of those football players have been in, played and won super bowls.
So i'll take the team that isn't as experienced.
I'd rather face atlanta.
But i'm gonna be wrong again, mickey.
You know that.
(chuckling) >>mickey: well, one of us is gonna be right.
>>babe: hey, i just hope, hey wess, i just hope they have someone to face.
That means the cowboys won.
>>wess: alright, mickey, babe, great job as always.
Thank you for being with us.
If the cowboys win we'll be back next week with a preview of that nfc championship game.
We hope to see you then.
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