FRISCO, Texas – Just like last week, we're dealing with a team the Cowboys don't play very often.
A lot has changed since the Cowboys visited Baltimore back in 2012, and virtually everything has changed since the Ravens' last trip to Dallas, way back in 2008.
As usual, you should be familiar with some of these names. But here is my weekly look at the guys that give me concern as the Cowboys begin their preparations for this Week 11 tilt.
Weapon:QB Joe Flacco
Another NFC North quarterback, another very competitive player and leader. His teammates rally around him and make plays for him. He plays with intelligence and is smart – Flacco doesn't make many mental mistakes.
He will deliver the ball at all angles. Release is generally over the top but will drop down side arm for underneath passes. Likes to work the ball in the middle of the field. I honestly wouldn't say that his arm talent and strength is top shelf. There are snaps where you see his balls float. But he shows touch for screens and passes to the flat. His accuracy can be good, and he is not afraid to throw the ball into tight windows. Nice accuracy when he throws the balls outside the numbers, especially on passes down the field. He could be more accurate under duress. He will hang in the pocket to make a throw – maybe too long. Has taken plenty of sacks due to his willingness to hold onto the ball.
Despite that, Flacco has good poise and awareness. Shows vision to see the field. Will come back to receivers while in the pocket. Can process the info and get the ball out. Shows the durability to hang in there and make the throws. Takes hits and comes back the next play.
For a tall guy, he can move well. Strong guy to hang in there. Strong in the upper body. Mobility in the pocket. Play maker. Clutch in big games. Finds ways to get the job done.
Nemesis: DT Timmy Jernigan
One of my favorite players in the 2014 NFL Draft, coming out of Florida State. Jernigan has a non-stop motor and effort level. Top-level inside instincts and agility. Good lateral quickness and hand use to stack and shed head-on running plays. He has the quickness to get rid of blockers in a hurry and then get to the ball.
This is not the tallest defensive lineman in the league, so he plays low and with leverage to hold his ground. He has good interior instincts and tackle-to-tackle agility. He works hard not to stay blocked. He can work through traffic to make a play. Presses the pocket and gets up field push – this helps him penetrate the pocket quickly. He plays on his feet with good flexibility, base, and quick hands, and he plays the inside gaps. He's tough to push back because of his leverage and strength. Has outstanding footwork, which gives him incredible quickness and speed for the position.
Jernigan does a nice job of sending the initial punch with a strong pair of hands, keeping his base low so he can control the engagement with the blocker. Well-developed technique, knows how to get off blocks using moves and positioning. A disruptor who has several ways to beat a blocker.
Despite his less than ideal height/weight numbers, he can play multiple roles along any defensive front. Will be a handful to have to deal with due to his relentless style. The Cowboys have to make sure that he's secured along the line of scrimmage or he will find his way to the ball. Has five sacks through 9 games in 2016.
Under the Radar:CB Tavon Young
Young is a Maryland kid that went to school at Temple. He is not the biggest corner at 5-9, but he is super competitive. He ran a 4.40 coming out of college and he plays to that speed.
Quick pedal, maintaining cushion. He is a hard guy to run away from due to his speed. Very good in off-man coverage with good reactions to receivers' cuts. He changes speed to maintain leverage. Physical in press coverage, quick with his hands at stabbing the receiver. Fluid in transition with a quick break and drive. Loose hips. Good ball skills with the anticipation to break up a pass. He will round off a lateral reaction at times.
His size is a limiting factor, but he is a playmaker with outstanding cornerback skills and technique. He will drive on the ball. Plays with lateral quickness. Missed some tackles in college but doesn't miss many of them in the NFL. He can rally to the ball, and he can break out of zone. Relaxed pedal then shoots out of it.
I've noticed he is locating the ball better down the field than he did in college. Quick to read. Plays with balance in the way he stays in position. Can play out of the slot. Had some problems in college while playing in the red zone when he had to deal with big receivers inside. Has found a spot in this Ravens defense due to his aggressive style.