JOEY ARNEL SAYSON
SANTA MONICA, CA
After watching Rams-Chiefs and thinking about Rams-Saints earlier this year, will this week's game against New Orleans vindicate Coach Garrett's philosophy of building this team to control the ball and the clock with the run and play solid defense or will we discover that we can't hang with the teams constructed to play a high-octane offense? Historically, can you remember how ball control and strong defensive teams have fared against the high-flyers?_
Bryan: I don't know if I'd go that route? To beat these teams it requires you to finish drives and play tremendous defense. You can hold the ball all you want, but if you don't score, you're likely going to lose. To beat the Saints you have to play perfect on both sides of the ball because that's how they play. Any mistake you make they take advantage of. This is going to be a difficult game.
Rob: I understand your question, but you're leaving out the fact that this team brought in Amari Cooper to balance out their offense and add another big-play threat. They've always wanted to get Ezekiel Elliott involved in the run game, but the feel like they can stretch defenses now, too. You can't win consistently just one way in this league. For this particular matchup, I don't think you can say, let's play keep-away. Sure, you want to keep their playmakers off the field, but as Jason Garrett said this week, you have to score points and cash in on your drives, no matter how long or short.
I feel like the tables should be turned this week against the Saints. The Cowboys' philosophy is to run first, but would it behoove them to have a pass heavy game plan this week, especially now that Cooper has established himself as a true No. 1 and the Saints' defense is ranked 30th against the pass but first against the run?
Bryan: I wouldn't read too much into that. Teams don't run because they're generally behind. Their offense puts a ton of pressure on you to keep up. It's hard to maintain balance when you're behind from the jump. Both teams are going to be counting the number of stops they get in this game.
Rob: What they want is balance. The Saints are the league's best example of that. They've got the great Drew Brees, and yet only one team (Seattle) has more rushing attempts. Their 30th ranking against the pass is a little misleading. They've been much better in the secondary since adding Eli Apple. To win Thursday, the Cowboys have to make plays down the field and keep Ezekiel Elliott, their best player, involved. That also means keeping the score down. The Dallas defense is looking forward to the challenge.