IRVING, Texas – These are my two big matchups for this weekend's trip to Tampa Bay.
As is often the case when I do these breakdowns, one of my two matchups is a very obvious one. The Buccaneers boast one of the best players in the league at the defensive tackle position. On the other side of the ball, we're going to see a new role for everybody's favorite rookie, Byron Jones.
Let's dive into it:
Cowboys guards La'el Collins and Zack Martin against Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy
This will be one of the better matchups of the entire weekend. When they draw up how three-technique should play in a 4-3 scheme, guys like Aaron Donald of the Rams and Gerald McCoy are the first names mentioned.
McCoy is a combination of explosive quickness and power. The way he comes off the ball presents issues for blockers to have to deal with. He is disruptive at the point of attack and if not completely taken care of on the backside, he will chase the play and finish. Outstanding lateral agility and body control. Can really change direction and pursue. Can be difficult to handle when he is on the inside charge while on the move.
When he hits the gap – he is a load to have to stop. He plays with lower body bend and balance. Understands how to keep his pads down and not give the blockers much to work with. Can anchor down at the point of attack in the running game. Will strike and explode with his hands to control blockers. Is consistent in his technique and how he goes about his job. Not good one play then bad the next three. Nice run game instincts. Finds the ball and gets in position to make the tackle.
He's a disciplined run defender. Plays with pass rush moves. Athletic enough to be used in games and stunts. Will see him rush in some three-man games with some effectiveness. Can defeat blockers one-on-one, which is why is he is doubled the majority of the time and believe that we will see Travis Frederick keeping an eye out in his direction as well.
Cowboys S Byron Jones against Buccaneers WR Adam Humphries
This matchup could go a couple of different ways depending what Rod Marinelli has in mind for Jones in his different sub packages. We have seen Jones at times this season line up and play the opponent's tight end, but with Austin Seferian-Jenkins banged up – Marinelli could opt to put Jones inside against in the slot and that would match him with Humphries.
When you study Humphries' game – you see a little Cole Beasley in him. He wears No. 11, he is short and very quick. Like Beasley, he is quarterback-friendly and finds ways to get open. He plays with lateral quickness and a burst. His change of direction is his best trait when it comes to running routes. He has that stop-start quickness that the good slot receivers possess. I think he plays with nice situational awareness – knows where the sticks are and is able to play beyond them.
Humphries shows courage in a crowd to make a play -- not afraid to go get a ball. Will make the contested catch. Reliable in his routes and receptions. Shows the ability to catch the ball in his hands. Not much run-after-catch due to his size – like Beasley in that he gets what he can, then heads for the ground.
I would not say he has a large catch radius, but if the ball is near him – he has a chance to make the play. This will be a different situation for Byron Jones to have to deal with, given most of his experience has come dealing with big tight ends.