When I worked in the pro department for the Cowboys I would always sit down when the office was quiet and pick out two or three games to study just to get a feel for the upcoming opponents. I had a good understanding of the NFC East but there were several AFC teams that I might have see two or three years back so I always used my summer's to try and get a jump on the season. Now that I am with DallasCowboys.com, I plan to go back and study like I did before. Here are some matchups I am looking forward to.
On Monday, I dissected the **first four matchups** of the season, followed by the **next four games**. Today, we'll focus on games 9-12, which features three division games, including two against Philadelphia.
Week 10 doesn't get any easier with the first meeting of the year with the Eagles. Like the Giants and Falcons game, the Eagles have their own problems you have to deal with on the outside at receiver but my focus will be on the matchup between defensive end Jason Babin and Doug Free. Babin plays in that wide nine-technique and is always attacking up the field. We all remember in the first matchup last season the problems he gave Tyron Smith with those spin moves for a sack and some pressure. Free really struggled with his technique last season and will need to get back to those games he had in 2010 if he is going to handle Babin in this matchup.
Week 11, the Browns will most likely be starting rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden when they make their first trip to Cowboys Stadium. The one bit of confidence that Weeden can carry into this game will be at his left tackle spot with Joe Thomas, who will be matched up against DeMarcus Ware and this one should be a classic. Thomas is an outstanding athlete with the ability to move and slide. It's rare that you see him off balance or out of position Ware is not a one trick pony and he can break tackles down in the way he rushes. Thomas will have his hands full with Ware but is more than capable enough to handle him without help. If Ware is able to get the best of Thomas in this matchup, there will be big time problems for the Browns to move the ball.
Week 12, there seemed to be a consensus among the scouts that whatever team was able to land Robert Griffin III was going to get a rare player. Griffin throws the ball better than Michael Vick ever did but he has similar ability to escape. With this matchup coming this late in the season, it could be a disadvantage for Rob Ryan because of the confidence factor of Griffin could gain throughout the season. I expect Griffin to have the same type of success that Cam Newton enjoyed last season. I know that Newton didn't win the majority of his starts but I think the Redskins defense is better overall and they will keep him in games with the chance to finish the job.
Week 13, in a short turnaround, the Eagles travel to Dallas after meeting in week 10. When you play the Eagles you have to deal with so many weapons both offensively but defensively as well. My focus on this match up will be on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys and Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson against Brandon Carr. Jackson is one of the most explosive players in the league so when he lines up on the outside it's important not to allow him free access in the route. Carr is physical enough to get his hands on Jackson and make him fight for space. Carr doesn't have the speed or quickness to run with Jackson but he can stay with him if he doesn't allow him to get off the line. Carr has the ability to frustrate Jackson with his physical style of play.