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3 Questions: Empty Formations, Biggest Surprise & Carter/Sims


IRVING, Texas -  Football analyst Bryan Broaddus takes a stab at three pressing questions about the Cowboys after the first five games of the season.

Are empty formations the way for the Cowboys to move the ball?

Broaddus:I thought that Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan had a very creative plan in the way they attacked the Broncos. I do like the options of spreading defenses out and giving Tony Romo options with the ball and these weapons, it is an inviting way to attack. Where theses coaches have to be careful is that not all opponents are going to struggle with pass rush and coverage like the Broncos did. When you play with an empty backfield, you are asking teams to blitz you, because you have one less protector, which is an area that DeMarco Murray can help you with. In listening to Jason Garrett talk about his offensive line and how well they have played in front of Romo, he and this staff clearly believe that it is an option. What will be interesting is how they play their personnel if they decide this is the best way to attack. Bryant, Austin, Williams should all be in the mix along with Beasley. Witten will be on the field as well. Harris is a nice option as but not before Beasley. If Callahan wants, he can go with a bigger lineup by taking Beasley off the field and adding Escobar or Hanna to create some size problems down the field. There are plenty of options, but again, you have to be aware of potentially putting your quarterback in the line of fire more but if you protect, as we have all seen, they can make big plays.

Bruce Carter or Ernie Sims going forward?

Broaddus:In speaking with some folks last week, if Justin Durant was healthy, he would have started that game against the Broncos with Sean Lee and Ernie Sims. There is no question that Bruce Carter didn't play his best against the Chargers but for whispers out there to say that his lack of effort was poor and the reason for the benching on the nickel, makes no sense. If you want to bench him because of the plays against Danny Woodhead, the coaches have that right. My thoughts of Bruce Carter have always been of a player that plays with great effort and ability. It wasn't that long ago that Carter had to step into a role for Sean Lee when he went down with injury and was the best player on the defense until he too got injured late in the season. He was one of the main reasons, that this defense was able to hold things together for that playoff push. As much as I respect Ernie Sims and what he has done since he arrived on the scene last year, he is not a better player than Bruce Carter. There are plays that Carter can make that Sims can't. Maybe I was wrong about Carter and what he could do in this scheme, but to be honest it has been an adjustment period for all these linebackers, just ask Sean Lee. Bruce Carter is not the only defensive player that is hurting this defense and to blame him for that [embedded_ad] is not right.      

What has surprised you the most through the first five games?

Broaddus: I didn't expect this defense to struggle the way it has for the last two weeks but I do understand that those things can happen when you play quarterbacks of the skill level of Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. What has surprised me the most has been the lack of use of Lance Dunbar on offensive snaps.During our times of covering OTAs, minicamps and training camp in Oxnard, there was nothing that led me to believe that Dunbar was not going to have a large role in this offense. I understand that the coaches might not have had confidence in him because of the fumbles against Arizona and Kansas City but he still is a dynamic player when it comes to those explosive, and elusive plays. Going forward, it is possible that we will see Dunbar more, if Garrett and Callahan decide that they want to spread defenses out and pop Dunbar on some nickel runs on 3rd down. In my view, there is just too much in Dunbar's game not to try and get him more touches in these games because of his ability to make things happen in space either running or catching the ball. The goal is to always create issues for the defenses to have to deal with and Lance Dunbar is the kind of player that can do just that which surprises me why he is not getting more of an opportunity.

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