FRISCO, Texas – As usual, here's a look at the two matchups I think will say a lot about how this week's game plays outs.
Dallas Cowboys OT Tyron Smith vs. Baltimore Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs
This is a classic matchup of one of the best pass rushers this league has seen against the model of left tackle play – it's as good as it gets. Terrell Suggs has tormented opponents in this league since 2003, when scouts didn't believehe had the foot speed to have much success. No player was more unfairly graded coming out of college than Terrell Suggs.
Even with his advanced age and injury history, he is still a dynamic pass rusher that is capable of taking over a game if not handled properly. The skill is still there, as is the experience. He has the rare ability to rush from all levels, whether he has his hand on the ground or from a two-point stance. His combination of quickness and power makes him unique. He has the ability to break blockers down with a wide variety of pass rush moves, as his strength is not to show the same rush over and over. He does a great job of pressuring the edge with his initial burst and can dip his shoulder to turn the corner.
Suggs is a very good closer — can adjust to a quarterback's moves. He's an explosive athlete and he's quick off the ball — fires off with good forward lean. Has good balance and body control. Protects his legs well. Speedy. Chases with effort. Active in backside pursuit. Disciplined. Hard guy to fool.
It will be a test to handle him when Dallas goes with their boot and waggle packages.
Dallas Cowboys DT Terrell McClain vs. Baltimore Ravens OG Marshal Yanda
Marshal Yanda is one of the top offensive linemen in the league, regardless of position. He has missed three games this season due to a shoulder injury, but he is back to full practice this week in getting ready for Dallas.
He lines up at right guard. He will roll his hips and flashes explosiveness in the run game. He's good with hands to control defender when he gets locked up. He will flash nice punch and jolt. But I would not say that he is a big technique guy -- more about the fight than the finesse. There is some power in his hands. Big-time competitor and physical -- solid effort player, has some maul to him. Works his base to mirror and slide in pass protection. He tends to play over the tops of his feet, but he is able to adjust.
There are snaps where you see struggle to adjust back to the twist. Movement gives him some problems and he's not as clean as he needs to be. He is used in their scheme as the puller. He can get on the edge and get movement. He doesn't get knocked back, and he can hold his ground. This guy can easily get to the second level and will work to finish blocks -- will finish more than he misses.
There are snaps where he ends up on the ground, as his body control is not always where it needs to be. Honestly, that is surprising, but even when he struggles with that, you don't see his man near the ball.
Like Zack Martin, he was an offensive tackle while at Iowa, then made the shift to guard. McClain has to get him on the move if he wants to have a chance to give him problems. No chance on his rush if he just tries to rush him down the middle.