How can the Cowboys stop the bleeding on the outside runs without affecting their great pass rush? – Candy Reagan/Abilene, TX
Nick: That's usually where the linebackers come into play. Linebackers that can run sideline to sideline and chase the ball can definitely help with those outside runs. But it also comes down to the interior of the defense. I'm a believer that everything in football is played "inside out." The interior of the line has to be strong first. That will cut down the middle runs and force teams to the perimeter. From there, the edge rushers and linebackers are free to roam and make plays. So the inside linemen and linebackers have to hold their own there first.
Patrik: I love this question, mostly because it's one not many consider when asking the Cowboys to sell out to stop the run. If they were to do that, they'd give up exponentially more in the air and, ultimately, gas their pass rushers. The best way to balance it all is to throw another big-body nose tackle into the mix – e.g., Johnathan Hankins – and to play him alongside Quinton Bohanna at times to delete interior runs altogether. From there, ask one of your LBs to seal an edge and use one of your three safeties (Donovan Wilson) to crash down on the other – effectively keeping your pass rush/pass defense intact while also negating the opponent's rushing attack.