In a tale of two halves, the Cowboys were defeated by the Green Bay Packers. Despite having a 23 point lead going into halftime, Matt Flynn was able to to drive down the field 5 straight possessions for touchdowns. With fans in disappointment, many pointed fingers at multiple players, coaches, and even management. DeMarco Murray was getting seven yards per rush going into halftime. But after intermission, the Cowboys only managed to run the ball three times. Just three. That is unacceptable. But, week 14 is over.
The Cowboys will now go on to face the Washington Redskins. This year, the Redskins have been an absolute disaster. Not only are they 3-11, but they also have been the laughingstock of the league. Mike Shanahan is on the outs, as well as his son Kyle. There have been multiple incidents regarding Robert Griffin III‘s father coming into the locker room. To say it is complete mess is an understatement.
Even though the Redskins may be one of the worst teams in the NFL, they will still go about this game as their playoff game. There would be nothing better for the Redskins than to knock Dallas out of the playoff race. With the addition of Kirk Cousins into their lineup, the Redskins played much better against the Atlanta Falcons. Cousins threw for a little under 400 yards and three touchdowns in their 1 point loss versus the Falcons. In the 2012 draft, RGIII was chosen in the first round. But his injury history prompted Washington to select Cousins in the fourth round. In his 3 NFL starts, he is 2-1. In fact, Cousins was able to beat the Baltimore Ravens late in the season.
In this game, the Cowboys will have to shut down Alfred Morris. Cousins is a better passer than RGIII, but he is not nearly as dynamic. The Cowboys would rather have Kirk Cousins try to beat them, than Alfred Morris. The Cowboys have seen Morris punish them in the past. When the Cowboys played the Redskins on week 17 in a win-or-go-home game, Morris ran the ball 33 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns. If you remember, the Cowboys were playing with backups everywhere.
Once again, the Cowboys find themselves in the same situation playing with linebackers like Cameron Lawrence & DeVonte Holloman. Injuries have depleted this defense for a third straight year. To make matters worse, DeMarcus Ware & Brandon Carr are playing below their level of what they are capable of. These are two players who are relied upon to create turnovers.
With his freak neck injury Sean Lee could be out for the season. The good news for Dallas is that Bruce Carter & Morris Claiborne may be practicing this week. The Cowboys need a linebacker even more than a cornerback. Carter has had a really bad year this his third year in the league. Yet his ability is still a drastic improvement over his replacement, Cam Lawrence.
The Cowboys are in need of another good performance from one of these “off the street” guys. Against Green Bay, Sterling Moore had himself a day. Dallas will need production from another player. They have gotten the best out of George Selvie, Nick Hayden, and Everette Brown. But, George Selvie could even be out this week. For Dallas to win the game, they must stop the run. Below is a solution that could help this Cowboys successfully do that.
Use Barry Church more as a linebacker
The Cowboys may be very reluctant to do this because it will leave the them without their most consistent defensive back. Barry Church has had an excellent year as the starting strong safety for this team. Church rarely misses tackles in the open field. Although Church is good in pass-coverage, his best skill is his ability to come up and stuff the run. Safeties are a bit like linebackers, they are always reading and reacting on every play. In 2013, Church has 120 tackles and three forced fumbles. He is a tough, hard-nosed player that helps out this Dallas defense drastically.
By moving Church to linebacker for around 20 snaps, he can be very productive. This Cowboys could use him best by putting him as a linebacker in the early runs to shut down Alfred Morris. Church has instincts similar to Sean Lee. By using him as a linebacker, this will benefit the Cowboys’ defense against the run. Also, this will greatly help rookie DeVonte Holloman in the middle.
Holloman is an exciting player, but his skill-set is best suited for a weak-side linebacker. But because of the injuries, the South Carolina-grad has had to move to middle ‘backer. By using Barry Church as a linebacker in the early downs, it will be much easier for the Cowboys to shut down Morris and the Redskins’ running attack.