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Mailbag: Keys To Defending Russell Wilson?


Under Rod Marinelli the Cowboys' defense tried to keep Russell Wilson in the "cup" and not let him scramble out of the pocket for big plays. Do you think this is still a valid concept against Seattle when Wilson is so productive this year completing better than 86% of his throws as more of a pocket passer? — BILL CONWAY / PALM SPRINGS, CA

Rob: Watching Wilson's first two games, I wouldn't say he's significantly more of a pocket passer. He's averaging over 30 attempts and he's been ridiculously productive, but he's still doing the same things that drive defenses crazy: when he senses pressure and sees an opening, he's gone. Marinelli's concept was more about staying true to your rush lanes so he doesn't find space to run. That's still very important. Pressure, maybe interior pressure more than anything, is so important to keep him from stepping up and making throws. This is the Cowboys' biggest challenge yet, and maybe the biggest all season.

Jonny: I think it's valid in the sense that you ultimately have to pick a poison against arguably the best player in the NFC. If you can keep Wilson from scrambling for first downs then you've at least taken something away from Seattle. But if your front four doesn't get pressure on him in the pocket then he's ultimately going to pick you apart. The only small consolation is that the Seahawks' defense has a similarly stressful decision in trying to contain Dak, who just passed for 400 yards and rushed for three touchdowns.

What happened to the duo tandem between Zeke and Pollard? Pollard is an amazing running back and if we have the weapons on offense, let's use them. We have Seattle coming up next.JOSE QUINTERO / ROCHESTER, NY

Rob: The Cowboys did open the Falcons game in a two-running-back set, and Pollard got the first touch of the game. But I said this all offseason: there are only so many opportunities when you're playing behind a great player. Sure, he and Zeke have been in the backfield together on occasion, and he can help them some in the passing game. But this is the best I've seen Zeke look since arguably his rookie season, and that's saying something. If we see the Cowboys build leads in the second half, that's where I think we might see more of Pollard helping Zeke finish off games.

Jonny: Pollard got multiple touches in the first quarter last Sunday. He saw time before Zeke needed a breather and even shared the field with him. He was also loose with the ball and didn't break off a big run. You can't just look at the box score and blame the coaching staff when both those guys don't have big games. Pollard will keep getting touches because he's good enough to warrant them, but ultimately he's going to have big games when he plays well. There are so many touches to go around and we can't just will 20-yard runs into existence. Dallas also hasn't held a decent lead yet. Expect more from the running back duo if the Cowboys can manage to jump out to a 10-point lead in a game.

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