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Mailbag: Too Predictable On First Down?; Playing More Man Coverage?

JOHN FLORY
HARRISBURG, PA
I understand and agree with the need to run the ball often, but that does not mean we always have to run on first down. I think we are becoming too predictable again and we need to mix things up more to keep them guessing.

Bryan:This team has had great success running on first down which has allowed them to have success at third down as well, because of the manageable distance in which they have had to convert. Where things have gotten questionable for me is on those third downs when they need two-to-three yards and they empty the backfield. I would still be okay running the ball there.

David: We've actually asked Jason Garrett a good bit about this in recent weeks. His philosophy seems to be that it's not too predictable if it's working. Up until Thursday night, it's hard to argue – the Cowboys have averaged five yards per carry for the vast majority of this season. I wouldn't be surprised to see them mix it up down this final stretch, but running the ball to set up manageable second and third downs is a huge part of what this group does, so don't expect them to stray too far.

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ARMANDO MARTINEZ
ALBUQUERQUE, NM
Why does this defense continue to play Cover Two if they stink at it? They were torched by the Eagles, 49ers, Redskins and Cardinals when they play zone. Is it going to take another blow to realize they need to just play man?

Bryan: It wasn't all zone coverage against the Eagles, and if you remember against the Seahawks, they played zone in the first half of that game as well and were outstanding. So just to throw a blanket statement out there and say they were just torched in it is not accurate and looking for an excuse why the defense struggled against the Philadelphia. If it does you any good, I believe that you will see more man coverage against the Bears because of their personnel.

David: It doesn't always go well – hello, Jeremy Maclin --  but zone coverage is a big part of Rod Marinelli's scheme. I honestly agree with you, but firstly, I don't think you would see the coaching staff shelf such a big part of what they do. Perhaps even more important than that: as much as they might struggle in zone, I don't think the Cowboys' secondary has the horses to successfully play man for an entire game, either. So what do you do? Mix and match seems like the best option.

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