Hay ciertos partidos que se quedan grabados en los recuerdos de los aficionados por años y más años. La última vez que nuestros Dallas Cowboys se vieron con los Denver Broncos fue en el 2013. Un juego en el que, entre las ofensivas de Peyton Manning y de Tony Romo se pusieron 99 puntos totales en el marcador. Dallas perdió por tres, pero fue un enfrentamiento inolvidable.
Este domingo, los Cowboys tomarán el campo buscando venganza contra los Broncos en Denver. Sin embargo, esta vez será algo muy distinto. Los dos equipos lucen completamente diferente. Sólo con mencionar a Dak Prescott y a Trevor Siemian nos damos una idea.
Y mientras disfrutamos ser un equipo de 1-0, los Cowboys se preparan para visitar a otro equipo del mismo récord. Y hoy en Cowboys en Español, nos preguntamos... ¿Cuáles son las cinco claves para ganar el partido?
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Controlar el Reloj
La semana pasada, los Cowboys se llevaron la victoria sobre los New York Giants 19-3. La defensiva de los Giants es muy buena y los Cowboys no pudieron anotar los puntos que querían.
En un partido que probablemente sea de pocos puntos, controlar el reloj con la ayuda de Ezekiel Elliott va a ser indispensable para este equipo de los Cowboys.
La defensive de los Broncos es especialmente buena contra el juego aéreo. Los Cowboys tendrán que establecer el juego terrestre desde el inicio del juego para poder vencer a Denver.
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La'el Collins Contra Von Miller
Uno de los cambios más importantes esta temporada para los Cowboys es la posición de tackle derecho (RT). Collins no se vio mal cuando se enfrentó a la bestia de los Oakland Raiders, Khalil Mack. ¿Pretemporada? Quizá, pero detener a Mack no es fácil ni en un entrenamiento.
Contra los Giants, Collins no tuvo problema alguno bloqueando a Jason Pierre-Paul, un DE de calidad.
La'El Collins making JPP pay for attempting to rush inside. #Cowboys https://t.co/CMuAQr09zm
Este domingo, Collins se enfrenta a uno de los mejores caza cabezas en la NFL... Von Miller. Sí los Cowboys quieren ganar contra los Broncos, La'el Collins tendrá que detener a Miller para que Dak no sufra alguna captura. Si La'el Collins tiene una buena actuación frente a Miller, será una excelente señal para el futuro de los Dallas Cowboys.
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Explotar la Línea Ofensiva de Broncos
La semana pasada, los Cowboys sorprendieron presionando a Manning en muchas jugadas. Los Giants no tienen una buena línea ofensiva y fue algo que la defensiva de Rod Marinelli dejó muy en claro el domingo pasado.
A pesar de que la línea ofensiva de los Denver Broncos no es buena, la verdad es que tampoco es tan mala como muchos dicen.
Sin embargo, Menelik Watson, el tackle derecho de los Broncos no tuve el mejor juego de su vida este lunes contra el Melvin Ingram de los Chargers. Ingram lo dominó gran parte del partido.
Watson será el jugador encargado de bloquear a DeMarcus Lawrence que promete mucho después de verlo dominar la primera semana contra los Giants.
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Duo Dinámico: Jaylon Smith y Sean Lee
La ofensiva de los Broncos no es de primer nivel, pero demostraron que eran capaces de avanzar constantemente contra los Chargers. Siemian tuvo un muy buen juego, pero sin su juego terrestre, no hubiera sido nada fácil.
Tras establecer un juego terrestre con CJ Anderson, los Broncos no tuvieron problema moviendo las cadenas con pases simples y cortos en terceras oportunidades.
Sean Lee y Jaylon Smith tienen que dominar el segundo nivel para evitar que Anderson tenga ganancias grandes. Si los Broncos no pueden establecer un juego terrestre, será mil veces más difícil para Siemian y compañía conseguir primeras oportunidades.
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El Subestimado Chris Jones
Hace unos días escribí un poco sobre Chris Jones y los equipos especiales. Cuando vemos la actuación sorprende de parte de esta defensiva en la primera semana, nos fijamos mucho en el juego de Lawrence, el debut de Jaylon Smith y la gran intercepción de Anthony Brown.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
Sin embargo, en mi opinión el jugador más valioso de la defensiva, fue el pateador (punter) Chris Jones. Gracias a él los Giants comenzaron dentro de su yarda diez en cuatro ocasiones. Pateó de una manera increíble forzando a los Giants a estar acorralados gran parte del juego.
Esto sin duda alguna ayudó a los Cowboys a frenar a la ofensiva de Eli Manning. Es más sencillo defender a un equipo que comienza dentro de la 10 a uno que comienza en la 20.
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En lo personal, creo que los Cowboys ganan de nuevo en un partido de pocos puntos. Los Broncos son un oponente difícil, pero no creo que sea un equipo que pueda llegar a vencer a los Cowboys. Mi predicción... los Cowboys ganan por segunda consecutiva y se preparan para Arizona con un récord de 2-0.
Linebacker Group Key to Cowboys’ Defensive Success in 2018
In 2017, it was evident just how much the Dallas Cowboys were hurt by their lack of linebacker depth. When Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens were injured, especially Lee, the defense struggled. Look to the games against the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams and it's easy to see just how ineffective the defense was without their top two linebackers.
With more and more teams employing RPO and read-option concepts, more is expected of linebackers as they read the quarterback.
With teams like the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans all on the 2018 schedule, the Dallas Cowboys' linebacker corp is going to have their hands full each and every week defending quarterbacks who are really good at utilizing these concepts.
While the edge defenders are instrumental in containing the run concepts in the read-option and RPO, the linebackers are the next line of defense against the run and their discipline in the run-pass action is monumental to defending the passing concept of the RPO.
Jeff Ratcliffe from Pro Football Focus broke down who the best and worst teams using RPOs were in 2017 by quarterback yards per attempt and quarterback yards per carry.
The Philadelphia Eagles ran the most RPOs and, as Ratcliffe described in his article, "For Doug Pederson, no run concept could not have an RPO attached to it."
The Kansas City Chiefs were second in the NFL in the amount of RPOs utilized with quarterback Alex Smith, now with the Washington Redskins, under center. Speaking of the Redskins, with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, they accrued the highest yards per attempt of any team in the NFL when throwing out of an RPO.
So, if you do the math, you can bet that the Washington Redskins will utilize a lot of RPO and read-option concepts in their offensive game plan.
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, the Cowboys' week one opponent, ran RPOs the fourth most of any team in the NFL and had 5.5 yards per carry when Cam Newton kept the ball himself. Cam is one of the best running quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Newton is the only quarterback since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to rush for double-digit rushing touchdowns twice in his career. Before he did it in 2011, no quarterback had accomplished the feat since Daunte Culpepper in 2002. The Dallas Cowboys and their front seven will have their hands full containing Newton in week one.
Also according to PFF's Ratcliffe, the New York Giants were the fifth best team in 2017 when the quarterback decided to keep the ball and run as they averaged 5.5 yards per carry out of RPOs. That has to be the most shocking element of his post. When you think of Eli Manning, you don't think of a running quarterback.
That just shows you how effective the RPO and read-option can be in the NFL.
With the speed of the game light years faster than it was 20 or 30 years ago, teams are having to use more and more misdirection to gain an edge in the run and pass game.
Another team on the Dallas Cowboys schedule was very effective throwing out of RPOs: the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the AFC Championship Game, they made a lot of headway against the New England Patriots using this concept.
Will be interesting to see how the Pats gameplan for the Eagles RPOs. Jaguars shredded them with same RPO 4 times in first half last week https://t.co/gYJWIPYIjj
In 2017, the Jaguars averaged 8.2 yards per attempt, the fifth best number in the NFL, just 0.3 yards per attempt behind the Philadelphia Eagles, who were fourth in the league when throwing out of RPOs.
This note from Jeff, I found particularly interesting:
"When the quarterback did pull, league-wide last year, the average yards per attempt was 6.52 and there was a 78.8 completion percentage. Once again, easy money."
Jeff Ratcliffe - Pro Football Focus
Most of the NFL is beginning to employ more and more RPO and read-option concepts into their offensive game plans, making the defense's job a lot more challenging. Especially at the linebacker level.
No longer can the linebacker just simply read run or pass based on the way the quarterback drops or turns to hand off, but they have to determine:
- Is the quarterback giving the ball to the runner?
- If the quarterback kept it, is he looking to run?
- If he's going to pass, where's the ball going?
All of that has to be decided within one to two seconds of the play. A linebacker is taught to read and react to the play as quickly as possible, which can create a significant advantage for the offense if the linebacker reads wrong.
The whole point of the read-option and the RPO is to create a lose-lose situation for the defense.
No matter what they do, it's a wrong choice.
If they read pass and drop into coverage, the ball carrier gets an advantage as he begins to go downhill. If the linebacker reads run and begins to attack the line of scrimmage, the QB pulls it and throws it to the spot vacated by the linebacker.
Having linebackers with elite athleticism, range, and coverage ability, like the Dallas Cowboys do in Sean Lee and potentially Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, will help them minimize the damage potential as they face increasing RPO usage.
Even if we talk about standard run and pass play calls, the defense was a much better unit when Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens were in the game. Points per game, rushing yards per game, and passing yards per game were all lower when those two were available. When the team had to rely on Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson as their top two linebackers, they were lit up like a pinball machine.
The Cowboys hope Jaylon Smith can return to the All-American type of player he was with Notre Dame, but if he doesn't, Vander Esch is a good insurance policy for 2019.
The Boise State product is good in the run game, but he excels in the passing game when he drops into coverage.
Having three linebackers that can play the run and pass like these three potentially can will be a huge key to the Dallas Cowboys success on defense in 2018. They will make life a lot easier for the rest of the defense if they are able to maintain play discipline against the read-option and the run-pass option.
Having these three linebackers and their dual-threat ability in the run and pass game will help the Dallas Cowboys be in far less lose-lose situations than they might otherwise be. And for the Dallas Cowboys to achieve the goals the hope to achieve, namely a sixth Lombardi Trophy, these three will be the key to that success.
Can TE Rico Gathers be More Than a Just Receiving Threat?
Rico Gathers is trying to follow in the footsteps of Tony Gonzales, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham as someone who has successfully made the transition from college basketball player to tight end in the NFL. Unfortunately, that transition hasn't gone quite as smoothly as he probably would've hoped.
To date, Gathers really hasn't been able to put a lot on tape. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad with the Dallas Cowboys, but did gain some valuable experience working with Tony Romo. Last year he was just beginning to show what kind of threat he could be in the passing game when he unfortunately sustained a concussion in practice, pretty much ending his season.
As you can imagine, Rico Gathers still has a lot to prove heading into the 2018 season. In no way is his roster spot guaranteed right now. He may still be the most talented and physically gifted TE on the Cowboys roster, but that will only get him so far.
I for one think Gathers can be a tremendous threat in the passing game. I think the flashes we saw in preseason a year ago are exactly the kind of weapon he can turn into for Dak Prescott. He is even working a route running guru, David Robinson, to become even better in the passing game. But, we all know the Cowboys coaching staff demands a lot more from their tight ends.
In the Cowboys offensive scheme, the tight end is an important position. They have to be able to block in several different areas depending on the formation, especially at the point of attack as an in-line blocker, sometimes being left one on one against a defensive end. That means they have to be assignment sound pre and post snap, with the ability to make the right adjustments in a split second.
For Rico Gathers, this is the area of his game holding him back the most right now. We all know what kind of threat he can be in the passing game, but the Cowboys coaching staff wants someone they can trust to leave on the field down after down. This is where Gathers will have to prove himself the remainder of the offseason.
The Dallas Cowboys knew Rico Gathers was a developmental prospect when they drafted him in the sixth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They didn't know how long it would take for him to be be able to contribute, but that time may be running out. Year 3 could be his last chance to prove himself in Dallas.
Gathers is a mismatch player in the passing game against smaller defensive backs, but that might not be enough for the Cowboys coaching staff to keep him around. I would personally get him involved in the receiving game, especially with all the new faces Prescott will be throwing to this season, but unfortunately I'm not making those decisions.
Do you think Rico Gathers is more than just a passing game threat?
Tony Romo Documentary in the Works
If you've missed seeing Tony Romo on the field, an upcoming documentary may be the cure. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback is reportedly the subject of a film chronicling his football career going all the way back to high school.
"Now or Never" will tell Romo's incredible story, going from undrafted to one of the top passers in the history of the Cowboys' storied franchise. It's being produced by a Texas-based company run by Christian Hanna (no known relation to James).
According to an article from MyRacineCounty.com, Romo's hometown newspaper, the tale of Tony's football career will be told going back to his days at Burlington High School in Wisconsin. It will follow him to Eastern Illinois University, the same QB hotbed that more recently produced Jimmy Garoppolo.
But what most of us will want to relive is Tony's amazing NFL career, which stands out among the most unexpected rises to stardom of any player in league history.
Romo, who was an undrafted free agent signed by the Cowboys in 2003, didn't play in a game for three seasons. He rose the QB depth chart through practice and preseason play, eventually becoming the backup and earning the respect of then-coach Bill Parcells.
In Week 7 of 2006, Parcells pulled struggling starter Drew Bledsoe at halftime and went with his intriguing young prospect. Tony's first pass in the NFL was one to forget; an interception.
About a decade later, Romo would retire as the Cowboys' all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He currently ranks fourth all-time in NFL history for passer rating.
Tony's career never saw the playoff and Super Bowl success of predecessors Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, but he remains a beloved figure in team history. The controversial end to his football career, losing his job to rookie phenom Dak Prescott in 2016, created a major rift among Cowboys fans.
While no longer playing, Romo remains one of the hottest names in football. His charisma and football acumen have him in a featured role with CBS Broadcasting.
From obscurity to "anointing oil" to one of the most discussed names in sports, Tony Romo's story is fascinating. This documentary crew picked a great subject, and we look forward to enjoying their work and revisiting the Romo Era once the film is released.
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