Can the Dallas Cowboys Defense Stop Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells?

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When you look at Arizona's suffering since his retirement, it is hard not think about the post-Aikman but pre-Romo days.

At the time of writing, it appeared that Kevin Kolb was going to be healthy enough to start, but there was nothing official. While it is generally agreed that Kolb is a more capable player than John Skelton, Kolb has not lived up to the expectations that were created by the big trade.

The Cardinals have been desperate for a QB since Kurt Warner retired. After the Matt Lienhart disaster, they were so desperate they decided that Kevin Kolb, with all of 7 NFL starts, was the guy who would turn the franchise around. They traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plus a 2012 second round draft choice for Kolb. Then they signed him to a 5 year $64 million ($21 million guaranteed) contract. It is far too early to label Kolb a bust in his first-ever role as a starter, but he certainly hasn’t played as well as he is being paid to play.

Kolb started the season 1-6; he has missed the last 4 games due to injury. When you look at his stats, it is the miscues that stand out, for his other numbers are average at best. He has fumbled at least once in every game he has started this season except for one. He has also thrown at least one INT in every game he has started except one.

Even though Kolb has been rather pedestrian this season, both Rex Grossman and Matt Moore have shown in recent weeks that the Cowboys secondary can be beaten if QB’s are given more than 3 seconds to sit comfortably in the pocket. With a WR like Fitzgerald who can be double-covered and still be open, getting to Kolb in a hurry will be more important than usual.

Click here to read about the Cowboys pass-rush.

Can the Cowboys get to the QB?

He could have another multiple sack day.

Any talk of rushing the passer has to begin with the Cowboys’ best player, DeMarcus Ware. Just in case anyone forgot, this column predicted, way back before Week 1, that towards the end of the season, Ware would be in a position to beat his personal record for sacks in a season.

Ware has logged more than 1 sack in four games already this season. The Cardinals have given up the 3rd most sacks in the NFL. I will be watching to see how often they double-team Ware. I presume that when he lines up in a predictable location, they will chip him with a TE or RB when he is not doubled-teamed.

I will be watching to see where Ware lines up and where he seems to be most effective at getting pressure from. I have been surprised by the frequency with which he has lined up in his traditional spot over the LT the last couple weeks.

Will Ryan continue to blitz more on 1st and 2nd down than on 3rd? Will he continue to bring just 3 pass-rushers on 3rd and long?

Will he continue, on first and 2nd downs, to successfully blitz a DB?

Anthony Spencer had a great game last week. It seems like Spencer has kicked it into a higher gear the last 2 or 3 weeks. I will be watching to see if he can continue to play at that levelI will also be watching to see if Spencer gives us reason to believe that he has ‘turned a corner’ this season.

Kenyon Coleman had some big tackles, and a sack, last week, so it will be worth it to keep on eye on this week as well.

Victor Butler continues to make big plays at important times despite limited playing time. I will be watching him this week to see if I can determine how he is able to have such a big impact.

Ratliff has not been a huge factor in many games this season. I am not sure why. I know that he gets double and triple teamed with Ryan only rushes 3 players, but that is only a small percentage of the plays. I will be watching to see if Ratliff can bring any sort of pressure up the middle and whether he can even muster a slight push of the pocket.

He can use the stiff-arm effectively on DB's.

Can they stop Beanie Wells?

As you have likely heard by now, the St. Louis Rams rush defense surrendered another record-breaking performance, this time to the Card’s RB Beanie Wells.

As I reviewed the Cardinals vs Rams game, I kept thinking, “Wow, this is the most unspectacular 200 yard rushing performance I have ever seen.” Neither Wells nor his OL was dominating. There were plenty of times when he was dropped for a loss or negligible gain.

On the two long runs (71 and 53 yards) he had pretty big holes, he wasn’t required to make any tough cuts, incredible moves, or break any tackles.

He was brought down from behind on both of the long runs.

Now I understand and appreciate why everyone was saying it was “Just the Rams” after The DM Expresses’ record-breaking day.

The Cardinals have been pretty quick to abandon the running game at times this year when they have fallen behind on the scoreboard.

The Cowboys rushing defense started out this season extremely well; they led the league in rush defense for weeks.

They had a few fairly poor outings against the run recently until last week in Miami when they held Reggie Bush to 61 yards.

Click on the link to read some random thoughts about the defense and Arizona’s offense.

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