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Mailbag: Adjustments On Offense & Defense?


Is it weird to say the defense is playing TOO fast? We all know that Coach Marinelli demands absolute hustle 100% of the time, but to me it looks like they've just given up fundamentals for speed with constant over pursuit, not breaking down, just flying all over the place to try and slow them down and assuming the next person behind them makes the tackle. - ALEX KYLES / LAS VEGAS, NV

Lindsay: Maybe more like, 'thinking' too fast? I agree with the giving up fundamentals part: I imagine it takes an insane amount of discipline to simply do your job, when things aren't going your way – which is solely what the defense is predicated on. Players have said it themselves, guys are trying to 'do too much,' and be the hero, and step out of their lane and make something happen, instead of staying 11 guys on 11 assignments, and it's costing them.

Rob: I don't think effort is the issue. I do think you're right: This defense is heavily dependent on gap control and fundamentals. It's the same thing we've been talking about at points throughout the season: Sometimes guys try to make the big play instead of the simple one, and opponents have, at times, used their aggressiveness against them with screens, swing passes and scrambles.

As much as I love the aerial attack of the new offense, how hard would it be for Dallas to get back to the run-first and move-the-chain offense, wearing down defense through time of possession? - SCOTT DUNIVAN / WASILLA, AK

Lindsay: As we saw in the opening drive against Chicago, Dallas churned out 17 plays for 75 yards and 3 ticks shy of nine minutes, capped off by a Zeke TD. Huge start for Ezekiel Elliott. But as we've seen on this three-game losing skid, you can't run first when you're behind. Unanswered points, quick 3-and-outs and rare turnovers doesn't leave much room for run-first, and it's tough to see because we saw a glimpse of Zeke in Chicago and it was pretty.

Rob: You have to keep the score relatively close in order to do that. The opening 17-play drive against Chicago (10 runs, 6 passes) is exactly the type of balance they want to achieve. Ezekiel Elliott has ripped off explosive runs in each of the last two games. They want to keep him involved, obviously. But he had nine combined carries in the second half against Buffalo and the Bears because they've been playing from behind so much.

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