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Dabbing Those Cryin' Eyes

  • than the defense. You know where those quarterbacks are going to be, and none really have one of those double-threat running backs. 

Hey, the Cowboys can play against an Edgerrin James all day long. Ask yourself, has Shawn Alexander ever hurt the Cowboys? In four games against the Cowboys, he's gained 229 yards, or 57.25 yards a game. (Might want to remember that, just in case.) 

But get this team out there against a running back who scatters around the field with the quickness of an exposed mouse, and one who can burn them bad catching passes out of the backfield, then you had better hang on tight to your seat. There's going to be problems. 

And if the team just happens to have an explosive tight end, please. 

Look, here are the top five rushing performances this year against the Cowboys: Westbrook, 122 yards; Barber, 114 yards; Deuce McAllister, who happens to play with Brees and Bush, 111 yards; Barber, 90 yards; and Clinton Portis, 84 yards. See what I mean? 

Now then, how about the top five passing performances: Brees, 384 yards; McNabb, 354 yards; Eli Manning, 270 yards; Peyton Manning, 254 yards; and Garcia, 238 yards, but only because the Eagles didn't need to throw any more during their final two possessions with a 23-7 lead. 

Oh, and by the way, that Bush character, he had six catches for 125 yards, most receiving yards against the Cowboys this season. 

See what I mean? 

By the way, just what the Cowboys need, the 2-13 Detroit Lions coming to town with their three-receiver sets. Good thing Barry Sanders doesn't still play there. The Cowboys' defense would be toast, considering Lions quarterback Jon Kitna is 79 yards away from throwing for more yards in a single season than any Cowboys quarterback in history - and two of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

"What concerns me here, this offense were playing here, runs the ball 31 percent of the time and throws 69 percent of the time," Parcells said, "and their formation recognition is very complex because they are going to spread you out. If you're not alert, you can be beaten by some of that stuff." 

Now I'm not some X and O expert, so there's probably some football guru out there - or right down the hallway out here, either way - laughing, but to me, when you play a 3-4 defense, your main pass rushers are your outside linebackers. Agree? But if they are your main pass rushers, then who is covering these pesky backs out of the backfield? If they do, then who is rushing the quarterback with any effectiveness? There goes DeMarcus Ware. 

Or, and I'm not trying to be a smart-aleck here, who covers the fullback if the linebackers are rushing the quarterback? 

Furthermore, because the Cowboys can't trust either of their safeties in coverage, then they get caught zoning some of these types of players, which then gets wide receivers on their cover-two safeties. 

Sure seems like a dilemma to me when matched up against these unconventional offenses, and frankly, me thinks that's the blueprint New Orleans head coach Sean Payton spread out for all those coming after him - that is, if you have the personnel to pull this off. Attack the flats, pull 'em up and go deep. 

"You can't just take a dominant player out of the game," reasons Aaron Glenn. "At some point, they will make a play. The thing is, you got to make plays, because you know they are going to make plays." 

So for these Dallas Cowboys (9-6), still hanging on to an outside chance of winning the NFC East if they can defeat the Lions and Atlanta beats Philly at The Linc later in the afternoon, it's time. Time to start making plays. Time to, as Glenn says, pull themselves "out of this rut." 

"We've had a bad stretch," Glenn says. "The timing might be bad, but you can't let the media make you think you're a bad team. It's simple, really. Got to dig yourself out of it."  

And while they're at it, they might want to stick a shovel in there on their third-down defense. Check this out, which will further shed light on the matchup problems of late: Over the first nine games of the season, the opponents were converting third downs at a 36-percent rate, with only three teams doing better than 38 percent. 

But in the past six

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