First and Foremost, I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Best wishes to you and your loved ones. What a fantastic way to celebrate this special holiday of thanks, enjoying a nostalgic battle of Cowboys and Indians on the beautiful home field in Arlington, TX.
There is no denying the fact that the Cowboys limp into this fine Thanksgiving Day severely short-handed. Three offensive line positions could be without the regular starters. Third wide receiver Kevin Ogletree is on the shelf, and it’s highly likely starting running back DeMarco Murray will join him.
On the defensive side of the ball it gets slightly better. Most of the banged up starters will likely participate, yet star defensive lineman Jay Ratliff may have to sit this one out. There’s no hiding this Cowboys squad is lining up handcuffed today.
Fortunately their Redskin counterparts are quite banged up in their own right. Not to mention the Redskins defensive unit is far from gracing the class of league leaders. There is one surefire path to expose these pesky Redskins and defeat them on this great holiday…ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK.
FAST AND FURIOUS AERIAL ATTACK
Washington fields one of the most generous pass defenses in the NFL. They rank 29th against the pass allowing a whopping 289 yards per game. For comparison that’s 78 yards per game worse than the Dallas pass defense. They’ve surrendered 20 passing touchdowns on the season, 9 more than the Cowboys’ total of 11.
A special blessing for Dallas’ thin offensive line comes in the form of the Skin’s relatively docile pass rush. Their 18 total sacks land them at 24th among NFL defenses. While that total is only 2 sacks less than the Cowboys’ 20 sacks, it still bodes well for new starters holding their ground in the Cowboys’ patchwork offensive line.
Jermey Parnell, Mackenzy Bernadeau (newly at center), and Derrick Dockery all handled themselves quite well in the second half of the Cleveland game. Let’s not forget, that was exactly when Dallas began to go up tempo and aggressively attack through the air with urgency.
When facing a defense that is less than impressive rushing the passer, and certainly struggles in pass coverage, the best way to expose these weaknesses is attack fast and hard. Dallas needs to give their new lineman as much of an advantage as possible.
And how do you slow down a pass rush? Line up at a quick pace and air it out, forcing them to rush the passer over and over and get winded. Not to mention it greatly reduces the frequency in which a team can alternate defensive linemen to get fresh legs in. Tony Romo will be deadly avoiding defenders pursuing on rubbery legs.
START THE ASSAULT ABRUPTLY
It’s no secret Dallas tends to enter games half asleep and play down to overmatched opponents. This approach has reared its head greatly in recent close wins. Against Carolina, Dallas scored 3 points by half. Versus Cleveland the Boys had logged a big fat donut by half. In those games the offense forced itself to score 16 on the Panthers and 23 on the Browns in order to avoid an ugly, season-crippling loss.
To further illustrate the point, these are the Cowboys average points scored by quarters:
1st quarter – 2.7
2nd quarter – 4.3
3rd quarter – 5.7
4th quarter – 8.1
As the game progresses, the score increases by quarter. The first quarter average of 2.7 points per game is ridiculously inept. The first half points average is 7.0, while the 2nd half total is 13.8. Dallas scores on average almost 2/3 of their points in the second half. Waiting a half to seriously engage a defense is what leads an NFL team to a mediocre 5-5 record, and desperately chasing the playoffs with little room for error.
This Redskins’ vulnerable pass defense, a crucial home divisional game against a major rival, and the excitement of Thanksgiving holiday…if the Cowboys cannot bring the heat and attack from square one in this spot they never will.
It’s time for Garrett to prove he knows how to expose a very vulnerable pass defense, while at the same time maximizing his own offenses’ strengths when battling key injuries.
Another bout of sleep-walking just won’t cut it against a dynamic Redskins offense bringing fire into Texas to beat their old rival. Make no mistake, the Dallas Cowboys are the better team here. They are fresh off a stunning comeback full of late game excitement and success.
Now they must bring that same intensity for four quarters of the turkey feast. Provide their loyal Cowboy fans a happy day of full bellies and enjoying aggressive, attacking Cowboys football from start to finish. Happy Thanksgiving to all…and as always, GO COWBOYS!!!
DALLAS COWBOYS 31, WASHINGTON REDSKINS 23