FRISCO, Texas – As usual, here's my weekly look at the two big matchups I have my eye on for this weekend.
The New York Jets figure to provide a test for the Cowboys along their offensive line, as well as a familiar challenge for the Dallas secondary.
Dallas Cowboys C Travis Frederick vs. New York Jets NT Steve McLendon
It's not often you see Travis Frederick matched up one-on-one during a game, but this week is one of those situations. Veteran nose tackle Steve McLendon will be on him throughout this game and it will be a battle worth keeping an eye on. As Frederick continues to work his way back from Guillain-Barre' Syndrome, guys like McLendon will test his recovery.
I was impressed with the way McClendon was able to handle Jason Kelce last week. There were several snaps where he just bulled Kelce and was able to affect the play. What Frederick will need to be ready for is the power McLendon plays with. On tape he appears to be a strong guy that understands the use of leverage and how to use it to his advantage.
Frederick is one of the best in the league when it comes to dealing with an opponent that attempts to use leverage on him. He is a belly-to-belly blocker, so he will do the same thing in return. The closer that Frederick can bring McLendon to him, the better chance he has to deal with him.
I don't believe McLendon can throw Frederick like he did Kelce. Frederick is not a light guy, plus his lower body power will help him anchor down when the two are locked up.
McLendon will try to bully him, but I don't think Frederick will allow that to happen.
Dallas Cowboys CB Anthony Brown vs. New York Jets WR Jamison Crowder
Jamison Crowder is no stranger to the Cowboys. He was a productive player against this defense while he was with the Washington Redskins. Earlier in the season, Crowder was targeted 17 times in a game against the Buffalo Bills, coming up with 14 receptions. The quarterback that day was Sam Darnold, who returns to the lineup after sitting out three games with mononucleosis.
Crowder's numbers have been poor due to a lack of quality quarterback play. With Darnold returning, I guarantee they will improve.
Crowder primarily works from the slot, which means he will draw coverage from Anthony Brown. What Brown has to be ready for are those routes underneath where Crowder likes to start-stop, then start again. He will try to freeze Brown, then explode across the field. Darnold will hang in there until Crowder has a chance to clear and then get him the ball.
He's especially dangerous when Darnold can avoid the rush and buy a second chance. Crowder understands how to stay active and find space. Darnold will also use him as a "hot" receiver if he sees a blitzer, allowing him to get the ball quickly off the snap.
Brown needs to be ready to chase him all over the field and from different spots in the formation. The Cowboys defense will also need to be ready for Crowder to run the jet sweep. He can be shifty in space and difficult to bring down when one-on-one in the open field.