IRVING, Texas – It feels strange to be writing this at the tail end of the weekend, rather than the beginning. But those are the quirks that come with Monday Night Football.
Here is my final notebook for the Cowboys' Week 8 matchup against Washington:
- After what happened in the Giants game last week, with the lack of defensive pressure, I expect Rod Marinelli and this staff to come up with some different rush combinations with their defensive personnel in order to attack this Redskins blocking scheme. As a group the defense was technique-poor with their stunts and second level blitzes, which gave Eli Manning time to throw the ball. With all of the bodies available there are several different ways they can line up by mixing and matching their front to get that pressure.
- Keep on an eye at the right offensive tackle spot for the Redskins during this game. If there is a soft player on this line, it is veteran Tyler Polumbus. In studying their offensive line he is the one player that is consistently pushed into the lap of the quarterback or beaten quickly around the edge. It has become such a problem that third-year man Tom Compton has seen some snaps there, but he too has had his share of issues. The Redskins might decide to give these tackles some help by putting tight end Logan Paulsen there to give them some assistance.
- In the Week 16 matchup between these two teams last season, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett went to bringing pressure off the edge with some slot blitzes from nickel corner E.J. Biggers. In the previous season Haslett went with the delayed blitz from his inside linebackers to create problems for Romo through the middle of the pocket. With the strength of this Cowboys offensive line being in the middle with Leary, Frederick and Martin, look for Haslett to work off the edges against Jermey Parnell to see if he and DeMarco Murray are on the same page protection-wise.
- I really like the matchups of these Cowboys tight ends against the Redskins safeties, but on the flip side of that Jordan Reed and Niles Paul present similar challenges. Rod Marinelli has shown some dime packages in the past several weeks with Tyler Patmon in the mix. I anticipate that we will see this more against the Redskins to match their receivers -- but to handle these tight ends as well. Where Reed and Paul hurt defenses is their ability to line up in multiple spots and operate just like a receiver down the field. If Marinelli doesn't go with his nickel or dime packages I expect him to put Barry Church on them and use J.J. Wilcox to handle situations out of the middle of the field, much like they have in the past. This Cowboys defense is going to have to worry about the Redskins ability to run boots and waggles to create those mismatches with their tight ends.
- Of those things that only interest me – Jason Garrett has never been a big fan of running trick plays while he was the play caller and that is okay. I always get a kick out of watching Dez Bryant warming up in pregame throwing the ball and wonder if he could one day get that shot to launch one to Terrance Williams down the sideline? As a matter of fact we need to include Dwayne Harris in that group of receivers that have a really good arm. From my experience in the league, it is in coaches' DNA to call creative plays on these nationally televised games. With the way that Scott Linehan has been calling these games, maybe Garrett lets him have a go -- but then again it might be wishful thinking on my part.