The Dallas Cowboys shocked a lot of people and used Noah Brown as a secret weapon last week, so who might be their secret weapon this week?
In the Dallas Cowboys wild card win over the Seattle Seahawks, Scott Linehan shocked the world when he used Noah Brown as a red zone receiving option instead of a red zone blocker. Forget for a moment the play didn’t work. It’s the strategy we’re focusing on here today.
All season Noah Brown has been leaned on heavily as run blocker. Of Brown’s 131 snaps this season, only 39 have been passing plays. In short yardage situations, his role has been even more pronounced. And when used in motion in short yardage, it’s a virtual guarantee he’s in there to pave the way for Ezekiel Elliott.
So when the Dallas Cowboys called Browns number on 1st and 15 inside the redzone, it’s no wonder Brown found himself open for a touchdown downfield. It’s clear Scott Linehan was keeping this play in his back pocket for quite a while. He repeatedly showed one thing on film, only to do the opposite when it mattered most.
For as much crap I give Linehan on a daily basis, it’s only fair I point out the good stuff. Many in Cowboys Nation denounced this call. But that’s probably because the result was so unsavory. If the pass would have led Brown it would have been a TD. If Brown would not have been interfered with,he would have easily caught it (BTW: K.J. Wright admitted it was pass interference after the game, backing up what we so clearly see on film).
The only way this play doesn’t work is if Wright mugs Brown and the refs crap the bed on the call (which is exactly what happened). The play call itself was a thing of beauty because it went against all of Linehan’s tendancies during the regular season. That’s what we call “out-scheming” and that’s what you want in a playoff coach.
Note: Just because I’m singing Linehan’s praises for this does not mean I think he should remain the OC after this season. Linehan calls an archaic game that leans far too much on disproved run-heavy theories. I digress…
This week’s secret weapon no one sees coming?
How about Rico Gathers? I can hear the collective eye roll of Cowboys Nation as I type these words, but hear me out:
“Secret” is the operative word here. Tavon Austin does not qualify as a secret to anyone, especially the LA Rams. Michael Gallup is a starter who’s often targeted for big plays. Nothing secret about him either. Blake Jarwin lost secret status in Week 17 when he exploded for 109 yards and three touchdowns.
There aren’t many secret weapons remaining on this Dallas Cowboys roster. And aside from using the 6’3” 245lbs Rod Smith as downfield receiving target (which I think Dallas should definitely do), Rico Gathers has the best chance at drawing a favorable matchup and becoming an unlikely target downfield.
First we have to respect the ability. We’ve seen Rico Gathers flash big plays in the past. He’s just been unable to do so with any consistency. His unreliable ways has relegated him to a bit player who’s only played six snaps in each of the last three games.
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When Gathers does play, it’s almost always in running situations. In fact, after averaging one target per game the first six weeks of the season, Gathers has only been targeted one time in the past 10 games. While it’s perfectly possible the Dallas Cowboys simply don’t trust the former Baylor basketball player, it’s also possible they’re saving him for a rainy day – much like they did with Noah Brown last week.
Rico may be an undisciplined route runner and not someone a team can trust to read a defense, snap after snap, but it’s possible the Cowboys scripted a play or two specifically designed for Rico. Plays that don’t involve making educated coverage reads. Plays designed to catch opponents off guard.
There aren’t many “secret” weapons this time of year, but Scott Linehan proved he’s willing to go against tendencies in big situations in order to gain an advantage. He did with Noah Brown and it was a great call and clearly something he’s been planning for quite a while.
Who will be this week’s “Noah Brown”? Who will be Dallas’ secret weapon?
I’d put big money that Rico Gathers will make little-to-no impact in Saturday’s upcoming contest against the Los Angeles Rams. But that’s basically what makes him a potential secret weapon. If Dallas is holding one play in their pocket designed to catch opponents off guard, they could do a lot worse than calling Rico’s number. Because he’s a big play threat that no one will see coming. Not even Cowboys fans.
- Published on 01/10/2019 at 13:01 PM
- Last updated at 01/10/2019 at 13:14 PM