The Dallas 2 defense wasn’t built in 5 weeks but that doesn’t mean it won’t be.
Now, I’m not saying that the Dallas Cowboys are going to come together and be the most dominant defense in the league but I am saying that this scheme has proven itself over the years and the Cowboys have the players to execute it.
It’s all about adjusting, learning and staying confident in your teammates.
For the most part, the Cowboys defensive woes aren’t about the scheme. There are two variables that have plagued the defense and have hindered gaining any traction to move forward. The first variable is playing top notch offenses. I mean, you have to face Peyton Manningtron and an all-of-the-sudden talented again Phillip Rivers; both of which have emerged to be in the elite class of quarterback in this season’s NFL.
The second variable? Fundamentals.
That sounds cliche but the Cowboys defense are really killing themselves. As we’ll break down below, the Cowboys are simply making mental errors. One of the biggest struggles this season has been passing off coverages. The Dallas 2 defense relies on players being accountable to their zones and having the patience and awareness to essentially let the play come to them. What’s happening is that players aren’t trusting fellow defenders to overlap coverage and it’s allowing offensive skill players to exploit empty zones. Add that to the fundamental inability to form tackle or take proper angles in pursuit and you have a losing equation, every time.
Lets take a closer look:
In this play (3rd and 4) the Bronco’s look to convert a first down. What you’ll see is Julius Thomas flexed out and Eric Decker to the left of him in the slot. Sean Lee is playing at the LOS showing blitz and Orlando Scandrick is playing about 5 yards off the LOS and splitting Thomas and Decker.
As Manning snaps the ball, Lee drops back 10 yards while carrying Julius Thomas through the seam. Eric Decker runs a 5 yard (give or take) drag route across the middle. Orlando Scandrick initially carries Decker on his route. This is where things get tricky. Both players continue to carry Thomas (if only for a split second) which leaves Decker wide open in the middle. Scandrick and Lee react but it’s too late, Completion. Luckily, the Cowboys force a fumble on the tackle.
This may seem like a futile example because the play resulted in a turnover. However, this play highlights exactly what the disconnect is defensively for this team. It’s imperative that the Cowboys defenders know their assignments and trust their teammates to overlap coverage. This isn’t the first time this team has made this mistake and likely won’t be their last. But until they can fix it, they’ll continue to give up big plays against slot receivers/tight ends.
Now, all is not lost. The good news is that there is some really strong young talent and veterans who can still turn this thing around. The defense is new, not extinct, and these players have mostly developed in the Rob Ryan defense which was very detailed and required a lot of work. The Dallas 2? Simple. Sit back and react.
Sean Lee’s leadership along with the young developing stars on this defense are going to get it together and when they do watch out.
This season hinges on the defense and I don’t think they’ll let us down.