The Dallas Cowboys are playing against the New Orleans Saints this weekend. This is the first of many good teams the Cowboys will face this season, however, both teams have been underachieving on the defensive end. How will that affect the game this weekend?
Coming into the season, it was hard not to expect the Cowboys would be 3-0 heading into the matchup with the Saints. The annual week one meeting with the Giants was expected to be a domination, the Washington win was more convincing than Josh Norman said it would be, and the Cowboys covered the 20 point spread against the dumpster fire Miami Dolphins.
None of these teams are as good as the teams… Or so we think. There’s no denying the skill of Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas but is a Drew Brees-less offense really that potent? The defense has Cameron Jordan but the front seven is dealing with injuries and the pass defense has been atrocious.
The 2017 defensive rookie of the year, Marshon Lattimore, has not played like it. This season he’s been targeted 27 times, however, the worst thing about that is he’s allowed the second most receptions, 20. While he leads all cornerbacks with 21 tackles, tackles from members of the secondary are a discouraging sign especially if the secondary is allowing so many yards.
Similarly, slot cornerback PJ Williams has been targeted 15 times and allowed 10 receptions. The number doesn’t compare with Lattimore’s, but the catch percentage of 66% doesn’t send the message of a lockdown cornerback. Oddly it’s been cornerback Eli Apple that has played the best for the Saints. His 4 receptions out of 8 targets is the lowest among starters in percentage and targets.
While this looks good for Dallas, the Dallas defense was having a similar issue in the secondary. Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown each have been targeted 14 times and have each allowed 8 receptions. (Quite the coincidence) At this point, it begs the question why Jourdan Lewis has yet to see major minutes on the field.
The defensive line has been trying to make its presence felt, and while they did a good job against the Dolphins, they’ve only seen 5 sacks in 3 games. A big reason for that is because DeMarcus Lawrence is being double teamed a league high 35%. This should’ve helped other’s get to the quarterback, but losing key players Antwaun Woods and Tyrone Crawford can make it hard.
The addition of Robert Quinn really helped the Cowboys pass rush last week. Unfortunately, the Cowboys pass rush will be going up against a really good Saints offensive line with tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk.
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Then there is the linebacker room. Leighton Vander Esch has noticeably improved from his weak week one showing, but the same can’t be said about middle linebacker Jaylon Smith. While Smith has been used more on pass rushing situations, he’s struggled in coverage this season while also missing tackles similar to the 2017 season. The regression was the last thing the Cowboys needed after signing Smith to a massive extension.
Lastly, Sean Lee has largely been a non factor as he has played the strong side spot to start the season. Playing the SAM spot and on special teams, Lee has recorded 1 solo and 1 assisted tackle. Backup SAM linebacker Joe Thomas has recorded 4 tackles sharing similar responsibilities as Lee.
Each teams individual talent hasn’t lived up to their potential leading to fewer turnovers for both teams. The Saints have recorded 2 fumbles, the exact same as the Cowboys, and have recorded one interception on the season. While the Cowboys have had multiple opportunities to intercept passes, they have yet to come away with a single one. In fact, the Cowboys are the first team to start the season with 3 double digit wins and not record a single interception.
Last season, the matchup between the Cowboys and Saints was a defensive grudge match. 3 games into the young season, both teams defenses are no where near their best form. Could this battle be a shootout for the century? (Probably not, but it should be entertaining nonetheless.)
- Published on 09/28/2019 at 12:32 PM
- Last updated at 09/28/2019 at 12:33 PM