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By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers Week 2: What to Watch for Dallas

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Jonathan Bales

Taking a look at some things to watch and DOs and DON’Ts for Dallas in their Week 2 matchup with the 49ers. . .

Will Rob Ryan continue to blitz on nearly every snap?

Last week, Ryan dialed up far more pressure than I anticipated.  The results were varied, with the Cowboys generating a fair amount of big plays, but allowing some as well (they did not give up the “home run,” however).  All in all, I was impressed with the defense’s effort on Sunday night, particularly without the top three cornerbacks for much of the contest.  Let’s see if Ryan continues to blitz this week in San Francisco.

How effectively will Dez Bryant play?

Bryant will likely give it a go for Dallas, but his actual health is still not quite known.  He doesn’t have a serious injury that will nag him all season, but it could still hinder him this week.  We should know how the coaching staff feels about Bryant within the first quarter or so, depending on the number of targets he receives.  Both he and Miles Austin have prime matchups.

Will Jason Garrett run the ball more in the red zone?

Most fans clamor for Garrett to run the ball more at all times, but I actually think the overall pass rate should increase a bit.  Inside the 10-yard line, however, I’d like to see Garrett run the ball more often, particularly on first and second down.  In that range, the real estate available on which the offense can work is small enough that the advantages of passing the ball are minimized.

The Cowboys’ 2010 red zone success improved dramatically over that in 2009 due to smart play-calling from Garrett.  You can see my study on that here.  Expect the Cowboys to take advantage of the Niners’ weak cornerbacks to move the ball up the field, then rely on the power running game and Jason Witten to get the ball into the end zone.

Will David Buehler garner touchbacks?

As I said in my review of the Cowboys’ Week 1 game, Buehler’s value to this team is effectively nothing if he doesn’t consistently kick the ball into the back of the end zone.  A lot of his success this week might be determined by the wind.

How often will the 49ers test Alan Ball?

Orlando Scandrick and Terence Newman will be out again, meaning Ball will start opposite Mike Jenkins.  Even with Jenkins’ injuries, the 49ers figure to test Ball early and often.  Judging from last week’s effort, San Fran will probably run at him as well.

DOs and DON’Ts

DON’T let the play clock drop to one second too often.

Here’s the study on the Cowboys’ play clock woes.  It needs to be fixed.

DON’T respect any wide receiver except Braylon Edwards deep.

Even though Edwards hasn’t lived up to his potential in the NFL, he’s still a dynamic receiver who can beat you deep at any time.  I don’t think the 49ers can win unless they get multiple big plays, and only Edwards and Ted Ginn can really do that for them on offense.  If the Cowboys play a lot of Cover 1 and roll the free safety to Edwards’ side, they should be fine.  That way, they can still blitz often.

DO put Sean Lee or Gerald Sensabaugh on Vernon Davis.

Keith Brooking or Bradie James on the stud tight end will be a problem.  Lee played magnificently in Week 1, and his primary objective this week should be containing Davis.

DON’T let Frank Gore get hot.

Gore is the obvious guy to stop this week.  He’s a talented player, but I don’t think it will be too difficult to limit his production if the Niners can’t pass the ball.  This will be all about pass protection–if San Francisco can protect Alex Smith and find even a little success through the air, it will open up things inside for Gore.

DO throw early and often.

Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown make up one of the league’s worst starting cornerback duos.  With Patrick Willis patrolling the middle of the field, I’d throw it outside quite a bit.

DO run right at Patrick Willis, but away from Justin Smith.

When Dallas does run the ball, they need to neutralize Willis.  The best way to do that is to make his speed and sideline-to-sideline ability a non-factor by running right at him.  They also need to steer clear of Smith, who is one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL.

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10 Responses to Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers Week 2: What to Watch for Dallas

  1. bW says:

    JB,

    You don’t think that Coach Joe De is asking Buehler not to kick it out of the endzone? I didn’t replay the game but I thought they were asking him to kick it high and to the corner.
    I thought I heard Coach Joe De mention in an interview during training camp that even with the new rule they might go with the plan of kicking it high to try to pin them before the.

    on a side note concerning the site. there are times I look at an article and in the comment section where you are supposed to enter your name and email i sometimes see the name and email of someone else. In the past it would just “save” my email address. which is fine…saves a few secs… but it shouldn’t be showing someone else email (security reasons and all). Not sure if its anything you can do anything about but thought I’d bring it up.

  2. bW says:

    * pin them inside the 20

  3. JJ says:

    JB
    When you start to list the names: Gore, Ginn Edwards, Davis, Crabtree…it’s not a bad list of offensive weapons for the 49ers.

    I’m anxious to see if the Cowboys can mount a sustainable running game. They did not in game 1 and we can credit that to the Jets but a return performance of that output will only put more pressure on Tony. Frankly, if Dez doesn’t go, do you think the niners will worry about Ogletree?

  4. john coleman says:

    JW- I think coach DeCamillas needs to do something/anything to win a game. If he feels THAT GOOD about the coverage teams, maybe he should work on punt protection.

    Article:
    Blitzes-I think with the injuries we have at CB, that Rob has no choice. He may also be trying to show blitzes and bring them to mask some holes. With that said, I was happy with the way the D played week 1. Especially with the solid run play and no embarrassing beat bad deep plays. Sean Lee was a beast and looks like a keeper. He still needs work for sure especially in filling the hole and getting off blocks. In filling the hole, I’m speaking of reading and stuffing things in the backfield. IMO it’s simply a thing of more playing time while healthy. He continues to be, by far, the best at covering we’ve had in a while. If Bruce Carter turns out to be a player, we might be set at ILB. I like seeing Brook and James rotating. It should be a big benefit late in the year.

    Dez- I would have to seriously consider his health. If he is legimately hurt, and I think he is, he would have to be near 100%. I also hope that we have learned our lesson on punt returns. That’s twice now on returns. Harris looks solid, let him be the man.

    Running the ball- I would have to take exception to running less. #1- Effective running keeps the D honest. #2- It takes pressure off of Romo. Both with him having to carry the team and with the learning curve of the retooled oline. #3- How can we expect to run the ball in the redzone and not be able to do it elsewhere? If we prove we can in fact run only in the redzone, so be it.

    Touchbacks- To me the whole issue is simply overplayed. I’m seeing guys bringing it out from the back of the endzone. The NFL did us a favor by guaranteeing us a 20 yard line start on offense. We have been in need of a returner for years and now we don’t need one. Coverage wise, the percentages are in our favor of stopping guys at the 20 or less. With the new rule I’m also seeing guys like Folk boom it in the endzone. You simply don’t need the super leg anymore.

    Ball- Whew! I would test him, if I were them.

    Do’s and Don’ts- Agree totally, even with the throwing. With their DB’s it’s a no brainer. I do want a heavy dose of run, if we get up 14 or more. Definitely run at Willis to take away his strong suit, which is pursuit. Must do- If we can limit Vernon Davis with any combination we win. The only exception would be if we make Edwards or Ginn look all world and they actually catch it. Edwards hands are a little worse than Buehlers FG kicking.

    As a side note- I still believe we will be week 4 or week 5 before we have a good gauge on the D. I do believe we will like the finished product.

  5. john coleman says:

    BTW, I also hope to see Tanner get some carries soon. Most of you know I have been a supporter of Choice, and I still am. However, if we have a younger guy with more upside, why wait?

  6. john coleman says:

    How do you all feel about Dockery? Maybe JB can did up some history and how he ended up available.

  7. Vince_Grey says:

    “… but I actually think the overall pass rate should increase a bit.”

    Jonathan have some philosophical differences on football and this is one of them. While there are a few, and I do mean a few, (Two, really, Manning (When healthy) and Brady) who can not only survive but thrive with little or no running game, the vast majority of NFL QB’s, even most of the elite ones, need that balance, or at least a semblance of one.

    Not only does a successful running game make QB reads much easier, but it helps the offensive line, helps to control top pass rushers, and, most of all, brings a toughness to a team that passing just doesn’t do.

    Garrett also needs to understand that you have to stick with it. In the 1st quarter, those 1-2 yards runs, become 2-3 yarders in the 2nd, 3-4 yarders in the 3rd, and 4-6 yarders by the 4th. Too often I see JG all but forget his running game, or the running game vanishes on it’s own mediocrity and the offense is put ALL on Romo’s shoulders. It happened again in the Jet’s game. 4th quarter, 11 carries for 11 yards. THAT is what hurts TR and the Cowboys most often. Don’t misunderstand. While I think Tony’s a fine QB, top ten for sure, I don’t see him as Brady/Manning elite. Tony NEEDS that running game to be at least marginally effective to really beat the top teams.

    What amazes me is how so many Dallas fans and media types who diss Romo and worship at the feet of Aikman forget how poorly Troy played when Emmitt wasn’t on the field.

    Tell you what, let’s give Romo the best O-line in the NFL and a 1400-1700 yard rusher and THEN let’s compare the two. Hellfire, even Roger had very productive runners and excellent offensive lines for most of his career. Far better than what Tony has had to work with.

  8. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    VG,

    Agree w/ ALL your points (except for one) and it’s nice to see others notice the same things I have noticed.

    Now, about your assessment of TR being a top 10 QB. I disagree. My list is:

    Brady, Manning (Peyton, of course), Rivers, Brees, Vick, Roethlisberger, Rogers, Ryan, Schaub and Flacco. Yes, I think that both Matty Ice and Joe Flacco are better than Romo. They both can make throws TR can’t make, their teams have had more success as of late and they both had higher or similiar per game passing yards averages last year (and look like they will again) with far less talented receivers.

    Romo is what I would call a SOLID QB. He can make some plays but he will also make bad decisions – as well all know. I think it’s actually somewhat pointless to ask him to make better ones; doing so is NOT in his DNA. While we applaud the play that he made (that he probably should’ve never even attempted), we should expect the play that he doesn’t likewise.

    The reason for the lack of success of the Cowboys is NOT due to Romo. He’s the 11th best QB in the league (if you can’t win w/ that, then you can’t win). The reason for the Cowboys’ woes is DEFENSE – in particular, defensive secondary. Jenkins, Newman, Scandrick, Sensabaugh and Ball/Elam just aren’t very good.

  9. chris stallcup says:

    I don’t think that we should really run the ball more considering that a lot of plays are short passes or screens which is pretty much a run play. I do believe we need to run the ball more efficiently though.

  10. Vince_Grey says:

    Chris – More/more effectively. Two sides of the same coin, IMO. Bottom line, running game must be more productive and that would help TR a lot.

    Tyrone – We’ll just have to disagree. I rate Tony above (Well above, actually) Flacco, Schaub, and Vick, and at least even with Rivers and Ryan. BTW, all of these guys, except Vick, have top running games to support them. Flacco has that AND a top defense to lean on.

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