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Cowboys vs. Chargers: Key Matchups for Dallas

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At Bleacher Report, I posted some of the matchups I’ll be watching in Week 4:

LT Tyron Smith vs. OLB Dwight Freeney

Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney has only 0.5 sacks through three games, but he’s found himself around the quarterback often. He’s pressured the passer on 12.7 percent of his pass-rush snaps. Sacks tend to add up to one-fourth of pressures for most players, meaning Freeney’s most likely sack total through three games is actually three.

If we look at Freeney’s production over the past few years, we see an obvious decline in efficiency up until this year. He’s really playing well right now, so it’s imperative for Dallas to limit his effectiveness.

The Chargers’ outside linebacker lines up primarily on the right side of the defense and almost never drops into coverage, meaning he’ll see a heavy dose of left tackle Tyron Smith. The third-year pro hasn’t been outstanding in pass protection thus far in 2013, but he’s performed better than last year—his pressure rate has decreased by 50 percent—and he’s been great in the running game. The ‘Boys could probably find success by running right at Freeney on third downs.

WR Dez Bryant vs. CB Johnny Patrick

It’s looking like cornerback Shareece Wright won’t be able to suit up, leaving Johnny Patrick to start. The Cowboys should attack Patrick because he’s a small cornerback at 5’11’’, 191 pounds, and he’s already given up 12.5 YPA on 11 targets in 2013.

The Cowboys can really take advantage of Patrick if he’s ever lined up on Bryant. San Diego might use starting cornerback Derek Cox—who stands 6’1’’—to shadow Bryant, but we don’t know if that’s the case just yet. If Patrick is indeed on Bryant, particularly in the red zone, the receiver should be able to physically outmatch the cornerback.

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