Last week, we discussed how Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are going to create the “Mo-Carr” Islands in the 2013 season for the Dallas Cowboys and shore up the defensive weakest link. With superior man-press coverage, the secondary won’t look like the diet Swiss cheese that Rob Ryan puts on his sandwiches nowadays.
When reveling in how shutdown-awesome the secondary is going to be this upcoming season, the first thought that came to my mind was, ‘DeMarcus Ware is going to break Strahan’s record…‘ I spent a few gleeful minutes imagining DeMarcus Ware sacking Robert Griffin III on Dec 30th with the game on the line to bring his season total to 23.0 sacks. The game will stop, momentarily, as it did for Drew Brees when he broke the single season passing record, and Michael Strahan will walk out onto the field and congratulate Ware for such a tremendous accomplishment.
Reality always seems to set though, and I was snapped out my day dream by a glaring weakness; underneath coverage. Last year, although we had Sean Lee prowling the middle underneath routes (and picking them off quite frequently with 4 INT’s in 2011) the Cowboys were killed in the underneath routes. Brent Celek comes to mind. He was labeled an NFL Fantasy sleeper by ESPN for a reason; he hasn’t done all too much on a consistent basis. But the Cowboys/Eagles game when Sean Lee injured his wrist was a horror. As close as our front seven got to sacking Vick, he would dump a short pass right by an aging Brady James or Keith Brooking, and there goes another first down, and a good chunk of yardage.
This year is different, however. Back in 2010, Bruce Carter was ranked the top linebacker coming into the 2011 draft by Sports Illustrated. The particular words used to describe him was “sideline to sideline speed andexcellent pass coverage”. A horrific knee injury dropped his draft status right into the lap of Jerry Jones (Owner/GM) and his Dallas Cowboys. His 2011 campaign was very uneventful. There were a couple of walloping hits on special teams, but with a shortened training camp, no off season, and still rehabbing his ACL injury, Bruce Carter rode the pine. This season will be different. His knee fully rehabbed and a full off season of “beast mode” with six-time Superbowl Champion Strength & Conditioning coach, Mike Woicek, will leave Bruce Carter fully prepared to roam the middle with his crazy q-tip buddy, Sean Lee.
I think they should be called “The Puddle Jumpers”. These linebackers will never really be able to create an island on their part of the field such as defensive teammates Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr; but they will be able to bridge the gap from Island to Island, securing the underneath routes with their superior pass coverage (relatively). The personnel that this 2012 Cowboys defense will place on the field is exactly what Rob Ryan wants; a pressure defense. The down the field throws will be taken away by Carr and Mo Islands, while the underneath, check down routes will be negated by our athletic linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. This formula will lead to defensive success, and a nice pause in game play to celebrate a defensive milestone that has lasted for the past ten years.
What do you think about the pass defense for the 2012 Cowboys? Put your questions and comments below and I’ll be sure to respond.