Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin isn’t having the best week so far. On Saturday night, his son, Lane, was fired as the head coach of the University of Southern California football team. That was followed by his defense giving up 402 yards to the San Diego Chargers and letting them score 20 unanswered points. The 73-year-old coach will now turn around and face a hall-of-fame quarterback that is on pace to shatter the record books. What a big week for Kiffin and his famed Tampa-2 defense.
The Tampa-2 defense was supposed to be weak against read-option teams and do well against the traditional style offenses that you would see in the NFL. But after last week’s offensive explosion led by Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, the Cowboys might be in trouble this week. The Denver Broncos are in town and have Peyton Manning as their quarterback. Usually facing Peyton is scary enough, but this year he is playing on a ridiculous level and he has some great weapons surrounding him. How can you stop a man who has already thrown for 16 touchdown and 0 interceptions through four games? Add in the fact he’s averaging close to 370 yards a game and this is going to be a long afternoon for Cowboys fans.
With the doom and gloom out-of-the-way, there are a few sure ways of slowing down Manning and trying to steal a victory. Yes, I said slow down and not stop, because you can’t stop Manning. All you can hope to do is slow him down enough to where your offense can take over the game.
First and foremost is getting after Manning himself. The one good thing for pass rushers is Manning is like a statue back in the pocket. He isn’t quick on his feet and he is by no means an elusive quarterback. You hit him once and he will go down and help throw him off his rhythm. That means Cowboys defensive ends George Selvie and Demarcus Ware need to be relentless in facing this Broncos offensive line. A consistent pass rush and constant pressure on the line will make Manning nervous and you would hope it makes him forced in his decision-making. There have been injuries along the Broncos offensive line, but that still hasn’t slowed Manning down. The key is to keep attacking, one play off and Manning could hit his receiver for a touchdown.
Second of all, the linebackers and defensive backs needs to hold down their zones and get the receivers off balanced. Manning can effectively read a defense, but it doesn’t help if the receivers are not getting to where they need to be. Causing confusion with the receivers is another way to help slow down the offense effectively.
The third way to slow down this historic passing attack is play defense by offense. That means that the Cowboys offense needs to methodically push the ball down the field and eat up as much clock as possible. Run the ball a lot and when passing make sure you stay in bounds. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo needs to play game manager in this game and do it well. Just read what the defense gives you and attack when you see an opening. Also, we should never see the Cowboys’ punt unit out once during this game. Punting just gives Peyton more and more opportunities to keep scoring. The job of the Cowboys’ offense is to keep up with the scoring and make sure to keep the clock moving.
The plans above can help the Cowboys come up with the upset, but it isn’t a guarantee. Either way, it figures to be a historic day for both teams. Let’s just hope the Cowboys are on the winning side of history.