Perhaps the biggest strength of the Dallas Cowboys’ defense is their depth and ability to rotate personnel throughout a game, subsequently keeping certain units fresh (primarily the defensive line).
The Dallas Cowboys’ lack top-end talent on the defensive line, but Rod Marinelli makes up for that by using a steady rotation of eight players across the line. The general theory is – if you can’t be more physically gifted than your opponent, you better work harder than your opponent. And that’s exactly what the Cowboys have been doing.
If staying fresh because of a deep rotation is the Dallas defenses super-power, then the no-huddle offense is its kryptonite. The no-huddle offense has some obvious and well-documented advantages:
- QB Friendly: Chip Kelly’s no-huddle offense is particularly QB friendly. It allows the QB to make calls at the line that fall within the particular QB’s comfort zone. Kelly doesn’t ask Sanchez to do things Sanchez isn’t comfortable with.
- Diagnose the Defense: Running a no-huddle gives extra time to the QB to diagnose the defense and the coverage scheme. Barking at the line with extra time on the play lock forces the defense to tip their hand early and tips the scales to the offense. If a QB knows the exact coverage scheme, the game becomes exponentially easier, and even a poor QB like Mark “Butt Fumble” Sanchez can carve up a defense with ease.
What is often forgotten is the disproportionate amount of exhaustion that befell the opposing lines. On a play-for-play basis, the defensive line expels more energy than the offensive line. That’s why you see offensive lines get stronger as the games progress, while the defensive lines clearly wear down.
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The no-huddle offense keeps opposing defenses from substituting into the game. If the defense tries, the offense will just snap the ball and either catch the defense out of position or get a call for too many men on the field. Either way, the offense wins, and the defense is stuck on the field when they’d normally be substituting out.
The no-huddle offense takes away the single biggest (and possibly, lone) strength of the Dallas Cowboys’ defense: a competent rotation of fresh bodies on the D-line. This was all-to-apparent last match-up, and will certainly be used to an extreme amount once again tonight.
Luckily, it’s perfectly beatable…as long as you are willing to sacrifice a little self-respect.
Faking injury remains the best way to neutralize the no-huddle offense. If a player shows signs of injury and cannot leave the field, the officials are required to stop play so the player can be safely removed from the field. Legitimacy of the injury is virtually impossible to determine beyond a reasonable doubt, but speculation of fake injuries is commonplace.
When a player falls to injury resulting in an official’s stoppage, the player is required to sit out for at least one play. For top-heavy teams without a regular defensive rotation, this could prove costly, but to a team like the Cowboys who regularly shuffle linemen in and out anyway, this is no problem at all.
Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) in the pocket against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
If the Cowboys unabashedly faked injuries every other play, they would stop the no-huddle and all of its inherent advantages. While tasteless, it would be effective and tip the balance back into the Dallas Cowboys’ direction.
Let it be known, this unsportsmanlike tactic will be obvious and will surely be met with scrutiny by the league, media, and fans, if it’s used to excess. But when so much is at stake, and this particular gray-area loophole advances your team’s chances of making the playoffs, shouldn’t the idea be explored?
We all know it happens around the league on a fairly regular basis, but what if we took it to excess and used it as a consistent rebuttal to the no-huddle?
I guess the better question is, How much do you hate the Eagles?
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