Bye By Birdie: Cowboys come out of bye week to play Ravens

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The Cowboys limped into the bye week after a tail whipping at the hands of the Chicago Bears. This week we will see if the Cowboys learned anything from that game and if they made any changes to their approach to the football field. After a five turnover game , playing the ball-hawking Ravens defence is not the best remedy. Facing Baltimore may be a double edged sword, because the challenge presented by the Baltimore Ravens forces the Cowboys to focus and we will see if this Cowboys team has the structure, discipline and “marbles” to be a serious contender in 2012.

This game being played in Baltimore may be the best gift for the Cowboys. Having this game in Baltimore, not the “Billion Dollar Play Pen” called Cowboys Stadium, keeps the Cowboys from being “booed” by their home fans. If they start slow, coming off their last display Cowboys fans would throw the kitchen sink at the offense, defense and coaching staff. At least being in Baltimore the team will want to hear the home crowd “booing” the home team.

Oct 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan yells to a referee during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. The Bears beat the Cowboys 34-18. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

A big key to the game this week will be the play of Tony Romo and the wide receivers corps, especially Dez Bryant. No one blitzes like the Baltimore Ravens, and the last time we saw the Cowboys,  blitzes from the Bears caused communication issues between the quarterback and receivers, resulting in at least two of the five Romo interceptions. Hopefully in the bye week Romo and Bryant got together to work on issues to help them beat the Ravens blitz. Romo will have to display the ability to beat the blitz at the line of scrimmage by directing the offensive line to protect him. The last thing Romo will have to do on Sunday is play under control. Cowboy fans and Romo supporters love his “gun slinger” mentality, but against a blitzing team there are going to be times where throwing the ball away, or taking a short sack is a better play than trying to force a ball into coverage, or extending a play that ends in a deeper loss of yards or even worse, a turnover.

The Ravens are known for their dynamic defense, but they also have an explosive offense. Ray Rice has been one of the best running backs in the league for the last two years. Sean Lee and the rest of the front seven will have to keep an eye on him in the run game and the pass game Joe Flacco has become a better player in 2012 than he has ever been in the past. The one thing he is not and has never been is elusive. DeMarcus War and the rest of the pass rush will have to show up and put Flacco on his back. Anquan Bolden and Torrey Smith are not as good as Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears, who torched the Dallas secondary, but as a duo they form a potent attack. The Dallas corners, Brandon Carr and Maurice Claiborne will have to play tough, run with the Ravens receivers and make plays on the ball when they get their chances. The biggest member of the defense, both figuratively and literally is the man running the show, Rob Ryan. Sunday will be a referendum on the defensive coordinator’s tenure in Dallas. This is the chance to show the Cowboy Nation that his scheme can stop an efficient offense.

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