IRVING, Texas -In last week's win over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys recorded just one sack. It's been a problem all season. The defensive line has been unable to produce on a high level and DeMarcus Ware has been held in check, at least in terms of what Cowboy fans have grown used to seeing from him over the years.
While opposing quarterbacks are often given the proper time needed to find the right receivers, many people are calling for more blitzes from the linebackers or secondary players.
The thought process is that the pass rush has to come from somewhere and if the typical positions are not getting to the quarterback then you have to bring the pressure from elsewhere.
But defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has been hesitant to send a lot of blitzes in recent games, instead opting to let his players sit back in coverage. On Friday, Ryan explained his logic, citing something he learned from Al Davis during his time in Oakland. Ryan added that it was one of the few things Davis told him that he could say out loud.
"Al Davis always told me this … he said, 'If you give up a big play, a huge play, on max pressure then the whole team deflates.' And it does. The thing is, you think we're bad, you ought to watch the film that I watch when I watch other teams play. The whole team goes to crap when they give up a big play. It's third-and-15 and, oh, they got beat, there goes a touchdown. You don't want to do that and (still) play good football."
Ryan claims that it's not about blindly sending players on blitzes, rather you must choose the correct times to send added pressure.
"Guys, we'll pressure when it's right. And we will," he said.
Ryan feels a certain responsibility to not take constant risks on defense.
"I think you want to play the game a certain way and that way is don't give up big plays," he said. "Now, we give them up in double coverage and that happens, but that's not supposed to happen. Can you blitz some people? Sure you can. But you want to be smart about it. You want to be in these games all the way to the end."
Ryan also went on to cite the fact that there have been numerous injuries to the defense, and lingering injuries to DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer have affected the sack numbers.
"Our outside linebackers, both of them have been battling through injuries, both of them were hurt last week," Ryan said. "I don't even know who was behind them to play. But these guys are hurt, they've been hurt and they're still playing hard.
The Cowboys have been adhering to the "next man up" philosophy, but that has not exactly produced a high number of sacks.
"(Ware and Spencer) are giving us everything they have," Ryan said. "If the pass rush hasn't looked good, Jay Ratliff hasn't been out there. These other guys are playing, they're giving everything they have. … But, we need to get after the pass rush, there's no question."