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Breaking Down the Dallas Cowboys

| September 15th, 2010

Just spent the last couple hours watching the Cowboys’ opening game against the Redskins – a game I all-but missed Sunday night due to an overzealous Sunday afternoon.  It stunk but here are my thoughts on this Sunday’s opponent.

Offense

  • According to Wednesday’s injury report, Cowboys offensive linemen Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier participated fully in practice on Wednesday.  We have to assume the disaster of a line – they were far worse than our line – will be greatly improved by the return of two starters.
  • Because of the limited ability their offensive line, the Boys relied almost exclusively on quick-tosses to their wide receivers: Austin, Bryant and Williams.  The Redskins were able to limit their offensive progress by tackling well on the outside.
  • When Romo looked downfield, two or three times total all game, he was essentially launching jump balls into double coverage and hoping his athletic receivers made plays on the ball.  There was not a single pass connected to a wide receiver moving in-stride, vertically down the field.   
  • When Romo looks to the sidelines, mostly to Miles Austin, the Jersey-native is basically beating corners one-on-one.  If the Bears give him a cushion, Austin will take it and the Cowboys will cut the Bears for eight-a-clip.
  • Austin ran a beautiful out route when the Skins were in cover two for an easy completion.  It scared me.
  • The Cowboys run game exists primarily on the perimeter.  They run stretch plays, pitches and even went to a three-back option in the second half against the Skins.  Against speedy, athletic linebackers I can’t see this working.  The few times they attacked the middle of the defense, usually with Tashard Choice, it worked for minimal gain.
  • No matter who is playing on the offensive line Sunday, the unit itself is not great and the Bears will have their opportunities to pressure Romo.  Romo, even when protected with an unbalanced line, still looked unstable and tentative when he’s surrounded in the pocket.  The Cowboys seemed to have no handle on attacking linebackers.

Defense

  • DeMarcus Ware might just be the defensive player in the sport.  If he’s not, he’s in the conversation with Darrelle Revis.  Coupled with Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer, the Cowboys pose arguably the most imposing threat Jay Cutler will face all season long.  The Bears will need to overload the line to protect the edges and keep a back stationary to chip whomever gets through. 
  • While their pass rush is intimidating, it’s also creates massive holes for a mobile quarterback to step into and deliver the ball down the field.  They don’t have a very good secondary and if Donovan McNabb weren’t wretched at throwing the football, the Skins could have struck for twenty-yard gains at two or three big moments in the game.
  • Mark my words: the Bears will have an opportunity to hit something big down the sideline.
  • The move terrifically from sideline-to-sideline but like most speed defenses they tire late.  Clinton Portis was ripping through them with cut-back runs in the fourth quarter.  If the Redskins didn’t commit a few dumb penalties, his numbers would have looked even better.
  • The biggest mistake the Bears can make Sunday is running tired, up-the-gut runs on first and second down and allowing this pass rush to know what’s coming.  They need to spread these guys out early and often.

Special Teams

  • Their kicker, David Buehler, missed a thirty-four yarder like it was a sixty yarder.  I have a feeling he’s awful.

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