JAM Week 9: Surprise performances against the Eagles, looking ahead to Cleveland

Cowboys Blitz staff writers Jonah Tuls and Cami Griffin have started a new series of JAM sessions (Jonah and Cam combined. . . get it?) to deliver each week. In the third JAM session below, we discuss the potential trap game in Week 9 against the Browns, along with surprise performances from the win against the Eagles last Sunday.

Cami: The Cowboys mustered an important comeback win to remain atop the NFC East standings last Sunday, but not all was positive. Cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Barry Church both suffered injuries that should sideline them each for the next several weeks, while rookie Dak Prescott may have had the worst game of his young career. Many view the Cleveland Browns as the winless team that the Cowboys should convincingly handle, but I don’t necessarily feel that way. The Browns have several playmakers with nothing to lose heading into this matchup. How confident do you feel heading into Cleveland on Sunday? Other than the obvious playmaker in Terrelle Pryor, who has a chance to exploit this under-the-radar Cowboys defense?

Jonah: Although it seems hard to believe the Dallas Cowboys could have their six-game winning streak snapped against the winless Cleveland Browns, I also would not be surprised for it to be too close for comfort. One player for the Browns who could make a big impact is running back Duke Johnson. The Cowboys defense has shined bright in big moments as of late, but one position they have had trouble with is the scat back. In three out of the four games the Cowboys faced a team with a true scat back, Chris Thompson, Giovani Bernard and Darren Sproles all had success. With that being said, I think Duke Johnson, who has a similar skill set to all three players, will give this team fits on the defensive side of the ball. Dak Prescott had an up and down performance on Sunday night as I thought he hit the “rookie wall” at times, but he once again found a way to win. Is this just the magic of Dak Prescott, or do these kind of performances worry you going forward with them on track to make a playoff run?

Cami: I think if anyone says it doesn’t worry them, they would be lying. That’s not a knock on Prescott, as he’s just simply a rookie. The team as a whole showed the fight and magic to pull that off in every phase. Prescott had a hard time getting his feet set, while sailing high or not having enough heat to reach the receiver on at least half of his passes last Sunday. In the playoffs, a team would most likely take advantage of those mistakes. I’m surprised the Eagles weren’t able to. There will come a time this season where the Cowboys are going to have to make a decision at quarterback, whether Prescott struggles or not. It’s obvious that Romo’s experience, knowledge, and big play ability would be helpful to have in the playoffs. But keep in mind, I don’t see Romo ever dressing as a healthy backup quarterback. It’s also important to note that Romo doesn’t make that decision. The coaching staff will. I truly feel the staff will make that decision in the next few weeks, by either claiming Romo isn’t healthy enough to return or dress him to start and see what happens. If we ever see him dressed as a backup quarterback, I believe it will be after he had shown he is no longer the same quality player. Dallas had an impressive showing on the defensive side of the ball against the Eagles, which player surprised you the most with their performance?

Jonah: The biggest surprise and boost to the defense this entire season, let alone the Philadelphia game, has been Terrell McClain. After missing all of last year due to injury, he was the forgotten piece on the defensive line for most of the summer. This was the case until he lined up against the Giants in week one. He has been a one-man wrecking crew ever since. He made arguably the biggest defensive play of the game against the Eagles by forcing a Wendell Smallwood fumble in the fourth quarter, giving Dallas huge momentum to turn the game around. Overall, McClain has proven to be one of the best one techniques in the league in terms of his play this season. The only thing that has held him back in the past has been his health. Other than Sean Lee and a healthy Morris Claiborne, Terrell McClain is playing as good as any defensive player on the Dallas Cowboys right now. Transitioning to the other side of the ball, which player on offense surprised you the most with their performance on Sunday night?

Cami: We’ve already discussed the surprise of Prescott’s underwhelming performance for the majority of the game, and Dez Bryant was. . . well, Dez Bryant. So i’m going to have to go with Terrance Williams here. He’s been flying under the radar at times and his instincts have been questioned since Week 1, but he’s been involved in several key plays this season. He didn’t necessarily have the best game blocking or even record a touchdown on Sunday night, but his quick instincts to turn into a defensive back and knock down the likely interception in the red zone literally saved the game for the Cowboys. Williams also came down with an impressive reception that looked to be overthrown in overtime. I’d have to add Lucky Whitehead as someone who surprised me last Sunday also, due to some of his questionable decisions and ball handling on special teams.

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