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The Blueprint to Paint the Big Blue Black and Blue

Dallas Cowboys

The Blueprint to Paint the Big Blue Black and Blue

“Whoever gets the mismatch gets the ball with us,” Bennett said. “I think it’s a great tool and a great weapon we showed.”  Martellus Bennett dead panned.

Personally, I think this may have been the definition of tipping your hand, but then again, I think most defenses in this league expect the mismatches to get picked on.  And then, to take that a step further, how will defenses applying that information use it against us?  Honestly?

Here’s what opposing defenses, provided our weapons can stay healthy, are up against.

Wide Receivers

Roy Williams (6’3″ 215):  I think we can, at least, all agree he is a clutch possession receiver.  Though, I have to say, that Touchdown early in the second half looked alot like the Touchdown Larry Fitzgerald scored late in the Super Bowl last season.  Romo throws a beautiful rope hitting Roy in stride, effortlessly pulling in a ball that would break my hands off.

Patrick Crayton (6’0″ 204):  He has often been regarded as having the best hand’s on the team.  But after that 80 + yard touchdown against the Bucs, I’d say his offseason work added quite a bit to his explosion and overall speed.

Miles Austin (6’3″ 214):  Speed has never been a concern.  It’s what earned him a look from the Cowboys in the first place.  But last year, when he turned up field rather than keeping his orginal direction allowing the defense to thrwart his otherwise touchdown against Green Bay, we all saw why he was still a work in progress.  But against the Bucs, he showed the speed and the moves to complement him, as he took a 40+ catch in for a Touchdown, making two players miss one shortly after the first, to take the lead shortly before the end of the 1st half.

Sam Hurd and Kevin Ogletree (6’2″ 208 & 6’0: 192):  Unless one of the above see injury, it’s unlikely we see much of either this year.  But as a quick reminder, Hurd was the receiver who arguably had the best training camp of all the receivers making acrobatic catch, one after another and Kevin Ogletree played the best in preseason, unseating a fairly rooted 3rd year receiver Isaiah Stanback who was much better in Special Teams than Kevin; that mean’s the coaches must have thought alot of Kevin to drop Isaiah, considering the 5th receiver spot typically goes to the Special Teams standout.

Tight Ends

Jason Witten (6’5″ 263):  He won’t wow you with speed or explosion, but he find’s the soft spots in coverage and does not drop balls, as a general rule.  He is also a fairly dominant lead blocker out of the backfield and from the standard TE lineup.  Furthermore, he is Romo’s favorite target.  That speaks volumes to Witten’s reliability.

Martellus Bennett (6’6″ 265):  Big mouth.  Big personality.  But he is all business on the field.  He, too, has displayed the ability to make some clutch catches, even when contested by a would-be defender.  This teamed with his wide receiver like speed, makes him extremely dangerous after the catch.

John Phillips (6’5″ 255):  Think Jason Witten in the early years.  Of course, rather or not he can maintain intensity through severe adversity, such as a deabilitatant injury, remains to be seen, but in terms of his hands and his ability to block, he certainly seems to have the tools to be described as Witten-esqe.

Running Backs

Marion Barber (6, 0″ 222):  Has proven on a fairly consistent basis that he is a reliable target out of the backfield.  If we are being honest, we haven’t really seen the Barbarian like play, a moniker earned in the 2007 season, but he is still solid and can typically pick up 3 to 4 yard’s after the 1st contact with the opposition.

Felix Jones (6’0″ 218):  The first thing you notice is his explosion.  In space, he can turn a check down from Cowboy’s 5 yard line to a touchdown 95 yards down the field in about 10 seconds.  After his initial explosion, you might notice that second gear he hit’s when turning the corner.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about look for Romo on a pitch to Jones on 4th and 3 against the Bengals on youtube or google it.  If you can, watch it in slow motion; when he turn’s the corner watch as it seem’s as though for a brief moment he is running in real time while everyone around him is still moving slow.  Lastly, there is his vision.  The ability to set up the next defender while making the 1st defender miss.  It’s a rare ability that among Cowboy great’s, only Emmitt Smith had and, though I’m not sure on this, perhaps Tony Dorsett.  But outside of those two, I don’t think any RB’s had vision that rivals that of Felix.

Tashard Choice (5’10” 212):  A combination of Felix and Marion, is the best way to describe him.  And, yes, he too can be threat out of the back field in screen and check down situations.

Deon Anderson (5’10” 245):  His colleague’s describe him as a devastating lead blocker.  Considering his compact size and, yet, considerable weight, I don’t doubt it.  But I’ve also seen him be pretty reliable in catching situations, as well.  So, he is something else an opposing defense has to think about.

Now, let’s think of the above as a big odd number that a team has to find a common denominator to divide the Cowboy’s by utilizing the combination of size and weight  and the respective talents of their own defensive players.  Quick note:  some players, regardless of size, play big, so you can’t always just compare size and say it’s a mismatch.  How do they match up to the various looks the Cowboys can create utilizing the above weapons?  I feel a series coming on.

Let’s take a look at our next week opponents the Giants starting unit in the secondary.

Corners

Cory Webster (6’0″ 202):  Clutch, but by no means what you would consider a lockdown corner.  So Roy Williams and company, with precise route running, will have opportunities.

Terrell Thomas (6’0″ 199):  A second round pick by the Giants from 2008, you could say he’s on Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick’s level, which means, once again, Roy Williams and company will have opportunities.

Aaron Ross (6’0″ 197):  According to the injury report, Aaron has a hamstring injury and is definitively out for next week’s game.  Though, it would not be the first time Coughlin had a player miracously recover from an injury to play afterall.

Bruce Johnson (5’11” 182):  Who?  Oh, that undrafted rookie free agent.  Not much can be said, other than he beat out the rookies DeAndre Wright and Stoney Woodson drafted in the 6th and 7th rounds respectively to make the 53 man roster.

Linebackers

Danny Clark (6’2″ 245):  A 10 year veteran, he is solid, particularly against the run, but I can’t see him running with any of our TE’s down the seam.

Antonio Pierce (6’1″ 238):  A 9 year veteran, same issue as Danny Clark.

Bryan Kehl (6’2″ 237):  Logged the least amount of tackles in his first year with the Giants last year, despite starting all 16 games.  If a Safety doesn’t move up to cover our TE’s, he will likely be the unlucky soul charged with the responsbility.

Safeties

Kenny Phillips (6’2″ 210):  He’s my favorite Giant, in a weird “I still hate you because of the team you represent” kind of way.  Not only is he good in coverage, but he can still lay the wood like the orginal prototypical SS.  Think 1st and 2nd year Roy Williams, with the coverage ability of  Gerald Sensabaugh.

Michael Johnson (6’2″ 207):  I don’t know much about him, but looking at his stat’s, I’ll say he is, at least, solid.  I would expect nothing less from a Coughlin staffed defense.

Four corners, with one definitely out for the game and the other an undrafted rookie, 3 safeties, and 4 linebackers.  That is the price the Giants paid to win battles at the line of scrimmage.  But for that ideaology to be effective, they have to win every battle at the line and, honestly, I don’t think they can do that against the Cowboys, particular when the Cowboys show the 12 formation (i.e. two receivers, two TE’s and one RB).  Considering the aforementioned, we will likely see a much more effective version of the Bucs defensive gameplan.  The Giants are going to force us to beat them deep, which also means the Cowboys offensive line is going to have to give Romo time; and that, admittedly, considering the talent and depth on the Giants defensive line, is going to be a tall order.  I said it of the Bucs game, and I’m sticking to this philosophical belief, the Cowboys will also need to employ some screens to back off that blitz, but I would not be suprised if Jason Garrett didn’t come out of the gate wanting Romo to sling it deep to test that very thin secondary.

Now for the fun part.  Consider the above described 12 formation.   Webster and Thomas will likely pick up RW and Crayton.  Brian Kehl will likely pick up either Bennett or Witten, dependent on their alignment.  Who pick’s up the other TE, particularly if they get motioned out wide?  The Safety.  What does that leave?  Either Crayton or William’s in a one on one situation.  Are we getting the picture?  All of our receivers last Sunday displayed the ability to beat single-coverage.  It come’s down to protecting Romo long enough to take advantage of the obvious mismatches:  The receiver in single coverage and/or the TE matched up with Kehl.  Pretty simple, actually.  I could do this all day, but I hope most of my reader’s can read the above and imagine the amount of different alignment’s the Cowboy’s can do that will create several different undesirable situations for the Giant’s defense.

The other side of the ball is a different question entirely.  Given the Cowboy’s performance last week and considering the above, one could surmise that Sunday could turn into a shoot out.  I seriously doubt it, though.  It will be a close game, that will likely be decided by Special Teams and the turnover ratio.

Prediction:  Cowboys 24 Giants 20


I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

4 Comments
  • Joe C

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ndsUZ6guWM&feature=fvw

    Link to Felix’s play you talk about here, also a few other of his highlights.

    Reflecting on that video, I am glad T.O. is gone, but no one can deny he was a workhouse until the end of every play, check him out @ 1:46-1:56… that is hard to replace, but I think we will be ok.

    Can’t wait or Sunday, hopefully we can come out with the W.

  • Mick

    Hi Jonathan, thanks for the invite to your site, and congrats on the forum to contribute. I see your tune hasn’t changed regarding your fascination with the Martellus Bennett matchup vs. Giant LB’s. Pass-defending Linebackers are truly the weakspot for the Giant defense at least until Michael Boley gets up to speed. The problem with this alignment is that it leaves your average OT’s on islands with Tuck and Osi (Flozell is average at best at this stage of his fine career). Considering Romo’s compromised escapability (ankle), it will make for edge-of-your-seat action to see if he gets it off on time. My tune hasn’t changed either: Though the ‘Boys may win this game, personel will not be the Cowboys eventual undoing this year – Wade’s inability to lead and prepare his team will. Unfortunately for you and your comrads, JJ’s steadfast insistance at having a weak Headcoach to manipulate, and absorb the blame is what continues to pull the rug out from under the blue star. When it all falls apart this year, you all need to take some action to voice your displeasure . . . or don’t. Fine with me if the Cowboys continue to fall short of expectations – twelve years and counting . . .
    BTW, the player of the game last week for the G-Men was Corey Webster, who blanketed Santana Moss the entire game. Expect him to be covering your boy Roy.
    BTWW, the guy I fear the most on your offense is Felix the friggin’ cheatah – Dude is deadly! Garrett would be wise to get him alot of touches.

  • Jonathan

    Thanks for the response Mick.

    1st, just because the 12 alignment presents the Cowboys the opportunity to send up to 5 capable receivers out, doesn’t mean all will be sent out. A quick chip by each of our TE’s very well may be all that Romo need’s to find the open receiver. In defense of Flozell, he was average last year, because he had to play all year with injuries to his legs and hand, due to the lack of depth behind him. Are depth is better this year, and so is he.

    A team doesn’t alway’s need a coach to lead; sometimes the players can take that upon themselves. Watch for Demarcus Ware and Tony Romo to step up in a big way.

    I give the Giant’s defense their due, which is why I’m saying it’s going to be a close and moderately low scoring game. Corey Webster may keep Roy in check the vast majority of the day, but it only takes one mistake to change the outcome of a game.

    • Mick

      I agree with that. Truth be told, I predicted on our blogsite (NY Giants 101 – MVN) that Dallas would win this game. Giants usually perform poorly in early-season primetime. I’m sure Eric, Mike D and the boys will try to banish me, but who cares? I also said that the Cowboys’ won’t be able to handle their success. This is where Wade’s true liability will become glaring. Though Romo’s improv skills are tremendous (and he’s a great guy too), I don’t believe his leadership skills are enough to keep a whole team from going Twitter-happy. Though Ware’s a beast, he’s relatively soft-spoken – how’s he gonna convince youngsters like Felix, Martellus, et al to stop getting drunk on their Sportscenter highlights. Players such as Ray Lewis, Mike Strahan and Drew Brees possess the ability to fill the void of a headcoach that cannot lead. Jerry Jones doesn’t recognize the NEED for people like that (especially in his coach). JJ – great talent evaluator, poor mixologist.

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