Three questions with Cowboys beat writer Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Q. Who is the Cowboys’ best defensive player?
A:DeMarcus Ware was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, but Anthony Spencer and Mike Jenkins were the best defensive players on the field Saturday.
Ware still is good, don’t get me wrong, but he has had an injury-plagued season. He will tell you he hasn’t played as well this season as last when he had a league-leading 20 sacks.
Jenkins started the season alternating with Orlando Scandrick, but that lasted only two weeks. Jenkins has been the team’s best cornerback, and Wade Phillips said this week that he should be in the Pro Bowl. He has five interceptions.
Spencer, who is starting full-time for the first time in his three-year career now that Greg Ellis is in Oakland, started out slowly. That probably didn’t help Ware either as he was seeing constant double teams. But in the past four games, Spencer has 31 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 13 quarterback pressures, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Q. The Cowboys are 1-2 in December. Will they have their first winning record in December in memory?
A: The Cowboys are 20-36 in December, dating to the 1997 season. They have Washington and Philadelphia left on their schedule and have to win both to have a winning record for the first time since 1996 when they last won a playoff game. (Among NFC teams, only the Lions have gone longer without a playoff victory.)
If the Cowboys do win both, they’ll be NFC East champions for the second time in Wade Phillips’ three seasons. The Cowboys, though, have beaten only two teams with winning records this season. They won at Philadelphia and then lost the next week at Green Bay. They beat New Orleans and now go to Washington, probably thinking the Redskins have quit on Jim Zorn. If the Cowboys aren’t ready to play, they will have another losing record in the month and a lot of change after the season.
The Eagles, we know, are going to play Dallas tough. It’s not going to be easy, but the Cowboys certainly have a chance — with the Eagles game at Cowboys Stadium — to go into the playoffs on a roll.
Q: What does coach Wade Phillips have to do to keep his job?
A: Phillips is in the last year of a three-year contract. The Cowboys hold the option for a fourth season. Jerry Jones has said all season that he will decide Phillips’ future when the season ends. If the Cowboys a playoff game, I think Phillips is back. Anything less than that, I think Jerry Jones is looking for a new head coach. The question then would become: Does Jerry give Jason Garrett a shot at the head coaching job?
— David Elfin