There were a few things in the Dallas Cowboys win that were missed if you weren’t paying very close attention, they could show a way forward.
I couldn’t put my finger on it, but, something was different at times during the game. It was bothering me, and when the Cowboys came up with some crucial stops near the end of the game, I was bent at figuring out what was different. I had to go back and watch the game again. It was then a few things hit me.
On defense, Rod Marinelli did a few interesting things with his defensive line. There were times when the Cowboys had four defensive tackles on the line at the same time. While looking for a pass rush, the Cowboys found a way to get some interesting pressure.
Sure, the Cowboys are really short on true defensive ends. It looked like when they wanted to add bulk and power to the line against the run game or to collapse the pocket a little more, they used this lineup. The size mismatches confused the Redskins and worked well at the end of the game.
This could be a sign of things to come moving forward now that the Cowboys will be without Randy Gregory until week 15. This type of lineup adds some interesting matchups and allows for more lanes for blitzing by the secondary or linebackers. In the search for more pressure, the Cowboys may have found a small glimmer.
Marinelli loves to blitz his corners, however, it doesn’t seem to work well. What this lineup could do is allow the linebackers to rush holes. The offensive line has to match up differently to combat the size. It won’t probably generate a ton of sacks, but it could generate pressure and some confusion for offenses.
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The second thing that came up was on offense. Jason Garrett is still a little overly cautious and his call for an onside kick when he did was an odd one. However, there was something new that could be used going forward.
Jason Garrett could allow Dak Prescott to take a few more deep shots. He could also allow a few more run plays designed for Prescott. Garrett could also do with moving the receivers around more than he currently does.
However, what they did with Cole Beasley and Geoff Swaim shows that they are starting to understand how defenses play Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. While it isn’t an in-game adjustment, it is a small tweak made to help Prescott.
The Cowboys used Beasley and Swaim to run under Bryant quite a bit. Most of the time Beasley’s big catches were on Bryant’s side, but the Redskins were actually using Norman to shut down Williams, not Bryant. They were attempting to use over the top cover on Bryant, begging the Cowboys to find another option.
The Cowboys had figured this as part of their gameplan and used Beasley, Witten, and Swaim as a way of making the Redskins have to change their plans. Once they would change, this would be when Bryant would get thrown to. Since the Redskins still didn’t move Norman to Dez it opened Dez up to some of the plays he had.
For the next few games it will be interesting to see if these are things the Cowboys develop while they find ways to help their defense and their rookie running back and quarterback. If against the Bears we see more linebacker pressure on the quarterback, we need to see what the line looks like when they do this. If it is four defensive tackles it is an adjustment Marinelli has made.
Time will tell if these small changes were just for the Redskins or if it something the coaching staff is actually trying to figure out. For all the issues Jason Garrett has for adjustments in game, there could be some changes during the week. These small tweaks need to be developed and not rested upon. The ability of the coaching staff to change these tweaks during the game could prove fruitful. Time will tell.