Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants, Week 17: How Dallas Can Win the NFC East
In addition to my article for the Times on how Dallas can beat Cover 2 Man Under this weekend in the Meadowlands, I also did a piece for the Dallas Observer. Head over there to check out my DOs and DON’Ts for Dallas. Along with more analysis of the coverage which irritated Dallas in Week 14, I add a full game plan for the ‘Boys. Here are some of the highlights:
- Don’t blitz often. Eli Manning’s passer rating against the blitz is very comparable to that when four or less defenders rush him, but the Cowboys do not have the talent in the secondary to deal with a blitz that fails. The team should be in the business of playing aggressively while still allowing for a chance to win the game late, and yielding quick scores due to unsuccessful blitz attempts won’t help.
- The ‘Boys should mimic the Giants’ Week 14 game plan by playing a lot of Cover 2 Man Under. By keeping everything in front of them, the defense can maximize their chances of halting Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz and force either a tight end or a running back to beat them. Although Brandon Jacobs wore down Dallas in the teams’ last meeting, Ahmad Bradshaw is the more likely of the two to give Dallas fits this week.
- The Giants pass a lot out of double-tight formations, so the Cowboys cannot sell out to defend the run when they see the look. The G-Men used a double-tight set 34 times in Week 14, so the ‘Boys better be ready for it.
- The Cowboys, on the other hand, do tip their play calls via their formation, personnel package, or down-and-distance. Jason Garrett could benefit from being a bit less predictable this week. Garrett’s predictability could be utilized to get the ball downfield with play action. But since 2009, Dallas quarterbacks have thrown for 20-plus yards on only 8.7 percent of play-action passes. And in two-plus years of passes, Garrett has called a play-action pass only eight times with 1-4 yards-to-go for a first down — the situations when faking a run would actually work. Instead, he’s called for a play-action look on 11 plays with 20-plus yards-to-go, when showing a running play is either an obvious decoy or hopeless.
For additional analysis, head over to the Observer and leave your comments there.