Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins Review: Defense

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The Secondary

– This unit is taking a lot of criticism this week; some of it is warranted and fair, some of it is not.

– The secondary deserves some of the credit for keeping the Dolphins to only 6 points in the first half. They may have given up some first downs, but they kept the Phins out of the endzone.

– They allowed Matt Moore to toss for almost 300 yards and achieve a QB rating over 99. But, they only give up one TD.

– The Cowboys have still only given up 3 plays of over 40 yards this season. Only New England (2) and Pittsburgh (1) have given up less plays over 40.

– As I argued last week, if you go back and watch the plays where Moore was able to get the ball down-field more than 10 or 12 yards, you will see that on almost all of those plays, Moore had more than 2.5 or 3 seconds to throw. At least one exception was the 35 yarder on Newman; there was pressure on Moore that play, but Newman was beat really bad.

– According to the play-by-play offered at NFL.com, the vast majority of Moore’s completions and attempts in the second half were “short”; only 3 attempts, all successful, were considered “deep”.

– I think part of what is skewing people’s perception of the secondary this week is that all 3 of the aforementioned ‘deep’ passes were completed on 3rd downs which amplifies the importance of the play.

– This is not a great secondary, but I think everyone, including the back-ups, are at least average for their place on the depth chart. I think that most of them are better than average. Many of the long receptions they have given up, especially on 3rd downs, were at least partially because the QB was given too much time to survey the field and wait for receivers to get open. No secondary can cover receivers for 3 and 4 seconds.

– Also, lets not forget that Michael Jenkins is not back yet. ESPN reports that Jenkins is hoping to be back for the December 4th game. I am not sure how much we should count on Jenkins because, as Seth Jones pointed out, Jenkins has been accused of “getting injured every time he sneezes”.

– The most important thing about this secondary is that it is part of the Dallas Cowboys Team.  They don’t have to be spectacular.  As I have argued since September, they only need to play ‘better than average’ ; they need to stop opposing offenses from the scoring quickly on big plays and tackle well in run support.

If the front 7 can get pressure on the QB and this secondary plays average, they should be able to keep teams from scoring more points than this talented offense.

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