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Gameday: Saints Rookie Safety Vaccaro Showing Versatility
In four career games against the New Orleans Saints, DeMarcus Ware has six tackles and four sacks to his credit. Facing the Saints, always seems to bring out the best of Ware’s game and they will need his best as he returns to the lineup after missing the last three games and part of another one with a Quad injury. For a defense that is desperate for pass rushers, Ware should be the perfect tonic against a Saints squad that throws the ball all over the yard with Drew Brees. Ware will be matchup with Charles Brown, who on tape, has had his share of issues this season when it comes to pass protection. What Ware can do to Brown is take advantage of his lack of movement. I did not see a great foot athlete here and when he tried to work to the outside, he tended to be a little slow to secure the edge. I believe that Brown will be looking to guard his edge and Payton can even give him help to the outside with a back or tight end but I have also seen Brown give up a sack on an inside move and the Buffalo game which resulted in a sack. If there was ever a time where a player with Ware’s ability to effect a game, this is it. Working next to Jason Hatcher should create some nice opportunities for some pressure.
The Weapon: Dez Bryant
The last time that Dez Bryant lined up against the New Orleans Saints, he gashed them with nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. For Bryant, it was a career day yardage wise and I am sure one that these Saints defensive backs surely will remember. In watching the Saints play the last several weeks, Bryant will get press man coverage like he saw in Kansas City and it will come from either Keenan Lewis or Jabari Greer. From my experience with Rob Ryan he is going to try and lock Bryant down with one of those corners and worry about not allowing Jason Witten to beat him in this game because he knows that is the direction that Romo will go to when he is trying to beat the blitz. Of the two Saints cornerbacks, Lewis appears to be the better player, so I believe that is the direction that Ryan will go. Where Bryant can hurt these Saints corners is by catching routes on the move whether its slants or ins but getting him the ball in stride will be the ticket against this man coverage because he can run away from them. As physical as these corners try to be, these Saints corners like to play with their hands Bryant can fight right back and by doing so, he can draw some calls down the field. I really like the matchup that Dez Bryant has here for some plays.
Under The Radar: Lance Dunbar
I understand there are questions about this Cowboys offense, whether Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan will strive for more balance as they tell us they desire. As much as I would like to see DeMarco Murray have a huge game running the ball, I believe that using Lance Dunbar is actually a better option. In this 3-4 scheme the Saints play, they have big inside players that can hold the point of attack with their size. Where Dunbar has a chance is if the ball hits quick before these linemen have a chance to react. As well as these Saints linebackers have played, there has been some plays where they have been caught on blocks and ball carriers have been able to get outside of them. Both the Jets and Bills were able to hit them with some read option runs for some nice gains. I expect Callahan to spread this Saints defense across the field and try to hit them with some runs, if he can get them in some light box situations and pop some gains. Dunbar is not as physical as Murray when it comes to running the ball but where he is better is how quickly he hits the hole and is able to get up the field. Attacking this Saints front seven, quickness is going to be better than power and with Lance Dunbar you will get that.
New Orleans Saints
The Nemesis: Drew Brees
Since Drew Brees moved from the San Diego Chargers, to the New Orleans Saints, he has made four career starts against the Dallas Cowboys. In that time period, he has tossed 10 touchdown, with only two interceptions. This is really nothing new for Drew Brees who has been outstanding, no matter who he has faced in his career. What makes Brees special in my opinion, is his command of the position. He truly has a gift in the way he plays the position. No quarterback in the league takes advantage of the physical traits like he does. He is not the tallest nor the quickness but it’s rare that you see him making a mistake. His accuracy and touch are amazing when you watch him play. You do not see receivers have to work to catch the ball. He can hit receivers on the move and you see them never breaking stride. He can throw the ball deep with touch. He throws a very easy ball to catch. He can process a defense quickly and if he feels like he is going to get pressure, he can get the ball outside quickly to allow the receiver to make the play. He is a difficult quarterback to sack because he is always moving in the pocket. Teams that have trapped him have been able to do it through the middle of the pocket. This Cowboys defense has played against some great quarterbacks but he might be the best.
The Weapon: Jimmy Graham
As difficult as the Calvin Johnson matchup was for this Cowboys defense, having to find a way to deal with Jimmy Graham, could be worse. The decision that Monte Kiffin and this defensive staff is going to have to make is how to do play Graham? He has a tight end build with wide receiver moves and catching ability. He is nimble up the field and for how tall he is, he can get in and out of his breaks with ease. No matter where Drew Brees throws him the ball, he is going to find a way to come down with it. He is outstanding in space when in the open field but he can also make contested catches with a man on his back. He works very well in a small area around the goal line or they can put him out wide or in the slot as a receiver and let him operate that way. Kiffin might choose to treat him like a receiver and walk Brandon Carr over the top of him and handle him that way. If Orlando Scandrick was taller, you would even consider putting him over him like he did last week against Kyle Rudolph of the Vikings when he was on the backside. Regardless of the direction that Kiffin goes in whether its Carr, Church, Heath or Carter they have to be ready for the ball going their way a bunch because he is that important to this Saints attack.
Under The Radar: Kenny Vaccaro
There were thoughts on draft day last April that the Dallas Cowboys were in serious discussions about selecting University of Texas safety, Kenny Vaccaro. The Cowboys, since the days of Roy Williams and Darren Woodson were struggling with their safety play and Vaccaro was viewed as a player that could not only play in this Cover 2 scheme but if also asked, could cover down in the slot and carry a receiver up the field. The questions about Vaccaro were not about the athletic things he could do but how well could he tackle when he had to make a play. There is no question that he is a physical player and when given the chance to stick his nose in there, he will. But there are times, like in college that you see him go low on tackles and not completely wrap up. I do like the way that Rob Ryan is using him in this scheme. He is walking him down in the box and playing him like an extra linebacker to handle the run or deal with the routes underneath. My feeling is that Ryan is not going to allow Jason Witten to beat him in this game and he will take Vaccaro and put him over the top and physically cover Witten that way. Ryan could also use him as a blitzer off the edge in some packages to try and get home before Romo has a chance to get the ball off. The bottom line is for a team that struggled so badly at the safety position like the Cowboys, the Saints were just as poor and the drafting of Kenny Vaccaro has at least given them a chance to be better in the future.