IRVING, Texas – A look at the two matchup that I think will play a big part in whether the Cowboys can grab a win against the Jets this Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
The really obvious talking point is the strength of this New York defense against the Cowboys' woeful offense. But there are other aspects of this matchup we have to consider. Rod Marinelli and his defensive staff are going to get some favorable looks on their side of the ball, and they're going to need to take advantage.
On the other side, it's pretty straightforward. The Cowboys have not been executing this season on offense, and they're going to need to if Saturday is to go well.
Let's take a look:
Cowboys DT Tyrone Crawford against Jets OG Brian Winters
If there is a matchup that the Cowboys can win along their defensive front, it is Tyrone Crawford against Brian Winters. Winters is clearly the weak link of a line that has some nice pieces to it. Winters doesn't play with much initial quickness or foot speed. He tends to get over extended and knocked out of position easily. He is a poor athlete and the majority of his snaps are him grabbing and trying to hold.
I don't see much lateral range or the ability to adjust. His lower body flex is poor and he really struggles when he has to deal with a rusher that plays with quickness. He doesn't adjust well in space and his body control is really not where it needs to be. He also struggles with power. I don't see a player with much upper or lower body strength and it shows in the way he plays.
Winters has a hard time finishing his blocks. He is a mauler-brawler type of player. There is nothing fluid or pretty to his game. Regardless of who lines up in front of him – whether it's Crawford or someone else -- he needs to keep the pressure on him the entire game. The coaches need to work to get him in as many one-on-one situations as possible and attack that spot, because he will struggle to hold up.
Ryan Fitzpatrick does show some mobility in the pocket when pressed, but the majority of the time he will stand right there in the middle of the pocket to deliver the ball. Getting to him quickly will be necessary to having to deal with these Jets receivers.
Cowboys WR Terrance Williams against Jets CB Antonio Cromartie
This New York secondary benefits greatly from its pass rush, but on the flip side – the front benefits from the secondary's ability to cover on the back end. Todd Bowles is able to roll out three quality cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine, which all present their challenges.
These cornerbacks don't normally travel with receivers, they just set up on the left and right sides. If the Cowboys are going to have any success throwing the ball in this game, it will likely have to be with Terrance Williams leading the way. Teams tend to stay away from going at Revis -- and as we all know, that's for good reason. So that means Cromartie sees his share of balls.
Bowles had Cromartie in Arizona and one of the first moves he made when taking over as the head coach was to bring Cromartie with him for his scheme. Like Revis, Cromartie is able to play either up or off with equal ability. When up tight he can be physical and difficult to get away from. He has a long, rangy build with body control and quickness to stay in the route. When he is in off coverage, it is almost like he is baiting the quarterback into a throw. He will turn his rear to the sideline, shuffle sideways, then drive on the pass.
Williams will have to work hard to finish his routes. If he is short or sloppy – Cromartie will eat him up. Matt Cassel has to also be careful that he is not late on his throws. Cromartie is not one of those corners that will miss a mistake if one is made.