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Mailbag: Why Not Use More Play-action?


I realize with both tackles being out they have to make some game adjustments. Wouldn't it be beneficial to go back to calling a heavy amount of play-action? I believe this helps the running game and helps Dak getting out of the pocket so he's not stuck in the pocket taking hits. - TYLER BAEM / SAN ANTONIO, TX

Bryan: Prescott got rid of the ball quicker in that Jets game than he did all season and still took hits. I get the whole 'they have to run play-action' outcry. It's all that everyone is talking about as the answer. But you do have to protect your quarterback, and the longer you can sustain drives the more you wear the defense out. It's more than just play-action. It's about holding onto the ball and finishing drives, whether that's run or pass. Figure that out and you'll keep your quarterback upright more. 

Rob: Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was asked about this on Thursday, because the play-action percentage has dropped. He said part of it is the way defenses play them, but they've also been behind at least two scores in the second half the last two games. I agree with you that good things seem to happen when they use play-action, but they've got to be in better circumstances for it to really be effective. I did like how they stuck more to the run in the second half against the Jets to maintain some level of balance.

How can the Cowboys' defense get that middle-of-the-line push? I watched each of the last few games and it seems as quarterbacks were moving up in the pocket, making it harder for ends to get to them. How can they fix? - STEPHEN GRAYSON / GREENVILLE, MS

Bryan: They're not winning many one-on-one battles in the middle of that line, and you're right, it's a big problem. I honestly thought that Maliek Collins would have been more of a force, but that hasn't been the case at all. With Tyrone Crawford now out that's going to hurt as well. The best plan might be for Kris Richard to continue to attack the pocket with Jaylon Smith and hope for the best, because other than that his options appear to be limited. 

Rob: Ideally it's better if you can get pressure from your front four first. They didn't seem to blitz a whole lot against the Jets, and while they're not a heavy blitzing defense, they've had success doing so selectively in the past. With Crawford out, this might be an opportunity for Trysten Hill to step in and provide quality snaps as part of that defensive tackle rotation. They could use a boost from their second-round pick.

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