Cowboys Need To Be Aggressive Moving Ahead


The Cowboys offense and defense need to use an aggressive approach from this point forward.

When starting quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant were lost to injuries, everyone knew that the Cowboys were going to take a step backwards. The offense would lack firepower while the offense would lean more on the running game and back-up quarterback Brandon Weeden would be a game manager.

The expectation was that Weeden would do enough to win games and keep the Cowboys in contention.

On the defensive side of the ball, the idea was to continue to play at a high level. The Cowboys defense played extremely well against the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, especially against the latter. In the Eagles game, the Cowboys defense shut down DeMarco Murray and the running game and created turnovers.

A blocked punt by linebacker Kyle Wilber was returned for a touchdown.

With the defense playing well and Weeden finally looking like an NFL quarterback, life seemed bearable without Romo and Dez. Wide receiver Terrance Williams looked good against the Eagles while scoring the game clinching touchdown. Williams appeared to up his game as a true big-play threat for opposing defenses.

Well, reality struck over the next three games as the Cowboys’ offense and defense resembled preseason scrimmage efforts. For whatever reason, the Cowboys coaching staff went ultra-conservative on offense and beyond bland on defense.

That’s awful because that defense had a built in excuse because of injuries.

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Being too conservative is the primary reason the Cowboys are on a three game losing streak. For the Cowboys to stay in contention and win the NFC East, they must play aggressive, not ultra conservative.

It’s that simple.

If they continue to play conservative, the losing streak will continue and they’ll position themselves for a top 10 spot in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Limiting Weeden’s options against the Atlanta Falcons was one of the worst decisions head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan could have ever made. Not only did Weeden play well enough to win that game and the one against the New Orleans Saints, but playing conservative allowed the Falcons to score 22 unanswered points in the second half to steal that conest.

The Cowboys still played conservative against the Saints, except for when Weeden found Williams for a game tying touchdown.

Those two losses might come back to haunt the Cowboys.

Instead of going deep or using a stacked formation with the wideouts, Linehan allows the receivers to get dominated at the line of scrimmage. With Matt Cassel as the new quarterback, the Cowboys offense must take chances down the field and be creative with the receivers.

Linehan must use more five receivers sets, bubble screens, and other simple passes that get the ball into the hands of players that kind run after the catch. There is nothing wrong with using trick plays either.

The objective is to score points and win the game.

Being more aggressive will help the Cowboys more than hurt them. If Cassel goes deep with regularity, two possibilities open up for the Cowboys: Either a receiver catches the ball or there could be a pass interference call on a defensive back. Most football game have at least two or three pass interference calls.

Either one of these outcomes changes field position, a lost art for the Cowboys as of late.

Furthermore, this makes opposing defenses adjust rather than the offense looking predictable.

Utilizing a five receiver set forces linebackers to cover speedy wideouts like Cole Beasley and usually puts tight end Jason Witten in single coverage against a safety or a linebacker. The goal is to keep the defense guessing while creating mismatches. The key is not to allow defenses to stack the box and take away your options.

Linehan needs to be creative with running back Joseph Randle and get him the ball in space. In addition to running the ball, Randle needs to catch the ball more on screen plays or in the slot. Yes, the Cowboys need to use him like injured running back Lance Dunbar. Randle can be a lethal receiving threat out of the backfield.

Randle might not be as fast as Dunbar, but he still runs very well. His quickness and speed can be a nightmare for opposing linebackers. The Cowboys are more than capable of using this scheme if power-runner Christine Michael is the primary back.

The Giants have one of the worse pass defenses in the league with a non-threatening pass rush. This is the game where the Cowboys can be really aggressive with their play calling and trying new schemes. Beating the Giants will keep them undefeated in the division and in no worse than second-place in the division.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys need to create more turnovers and use more blitzes. Yes, I said more blitzes because the Cowboys are in a must win by any means necessary mode. Of course, defensive linemen Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory, Demarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Jeremy Mincey will pressure Giants Eli Manning and disrupt the running game.

However, good defenses use all types of schemes to get to the quarterback and create turnovers. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has his primary weapons on defense, so he needs to make things happen quickly.

Because if the Cowboys don’t play with aggressiion, they’ll have a nice seat waiting for them in the 2016 draft.

Next: Should Dez Bryant Play?

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