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Mailbag: Why Less Tempo? Backing Down Defenses?

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I'm scratching my head wondering why Dallas did not appear to utilize any up-tempo until they absolutely had to (and barely at that) against Arizona. Seems to me that our offense is much more efficient in up tempo and it also seems to help us find a rhythm, which was obviously lacking on Sunday. – KURT KUNST / COLCHESTER, CT

Nick: I think this narrative is getting overblown. If memory serves me, I do recall them doing that even in the first drive. It was maybe not full up-tempo, but it was a no-huddle approach that keeps the defense from changing personnel. But the problem is, the offense wasn't being productive. You can only play fast for three plays until you punt. And, if you keep doing that over and over, you're putting a tired defense back on the field to try and chase Kyler Murray around. So, it sounds like an easy plan but when it's not working, you're also hurting the team. More than anything, the receivers must get open and Dak must hit them. They need to execute better for starters. Once they can do that, then a faster pace is only tougher to stop.

David: If I had to take a guess, it might have something to do with what they're seeing before the snap. The Cardinals batted five or six balls the other day, with a lot of those coming early in the game, when the two teams were still feeling each other out. It might have been in an effort to prevent some type of mistake based on the amount of disguise they were seeing. But overall, I agree with you. It's a strength of this offense and I'd like to see it as often as possible – within reason.

What can the Cowboys do to neutralize teams that crowd the line of scrimmage on defense? We always do poorly against teams that do that to us and we seem to not have an answer for it. – JASON TABANAN

Nick: Plain and simple, the receivers need to make plays on the ball. And unfortunately, the best guy they've got in terms of contested catches, is now out for the season. But when teams stack the box or blitz a lot, you beat them by going over the top. And if they're not open initially, there's generally trust they're going to make a play. We just haven't seen CeeDee Lamb do that much in the season like he did at training camp. That was an every-day occurrence, and it really hasn't been consistent here. But I firmly believe the Cowboys are not taking enough shots down the field. No longer is this just a 50-50 play. It's turned into 50-25-25 play. Maybe 25 percent that you're going to make the catch, 25 percent it will be incomplete and 50 percent that there will be a pass interference call. I'm not great at math, but if there's a 75 percent chance the ball at the spot or even greater, I'm going to do that a lot more. Throw a few more deep balls and see how long the box is stacked.

David: The Cardinals might have crowded the line of scrimmage with various pressure looks, but they still looked like a team that was still keeping plenty of guys back to clog the passing game. Vance Joseph likes to get creative, and we seemed to see a lot of false pressures and creative pressures from multiple position groups, but I'm not sure they did that at the expense of their coverage. To answer your question more directly, I think they need better execution from their offensive line and their running game to take the pressure off of Dak Prescott.

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