Scout's Notebook: Watch For These Changes In Dec.


IRVING, Texas -- Some thoughts from the Scout's Notebook:

Interesting Decision

With Justin Durant possibly due back from his injury this week, Jason Garrett and these defensive coaches have a decision to make: whether to allow Durant his spot back in the starting lineup at Sam linebacker or stick with Kyle Wilber, who in two starts has been very steady and was outstanding versus the run last week against the Raiders.

It appears Wilber has found a home on that strong side and is playing with some nice awareness and some stoutness at the point. What makes this call interesting, is that Durant has not done anything to say that he is clearly better than what we have seen from Wilber the last two games.

Where Wilber can also help this defense is with his ability to put pressure off the edge when he blitzes, which is something that we have not seen from Durant. When the team gets back to the practice field on Wednesday, we will know their answer.

Attack Out Of Slot

It's the coaches' responsibility to put their players in the best position to succeed.

It goes without saying that Dez Bryant is the best player on this team when it comes to making those explosive plays down the field. It was Jason Garrett's and Bill Callahan's job to find ways to draw coverage away from him, and they have by playing him out of the slot on certain down and distances.

Any opportunity you have to get Bryant the ball on the move, you have a chance for a huge play. By putting him in the slot, you can give him a two-way go by allowing him to see the coverage, then adjust his route. It's harder to double a receiver in the open field when you play them out of the slot because of the distance you have to cover and the ability to run the route at any level.

Other than his work in the red zone, I feel like that Bryant is most dangerous is in the middle of the field. He is starting to develop that feel for how to work through the traffic and find space. It also helps that you can line Miles Austin up to his outside, who understands his responsibilities .

By the way Austin runs his routes, he can be an option for Romo as well, because it puts pressure on the safety to have to deal with two options. After what we have seen from Bryant in the slot these last two weeks, look for Garrett and Callahan to come up with some more combinations of routes to buy Bryant even more space.

Directional Running

There has been a great deal of conversation about the type of season that Tyron Smith has had on the left side for this Cowboys offense.

Smith has improved in two areas from what I have been able to observe on tape. He has done a much better job of adjusting his set when defenders attempt to take an inside rush on him. There were times early in his career where he just didn't do a good enough job of taking that power step to his right and shutting down that rusher from coming inside on him.

Where Smith has also improved is in his run blocking. He has always been athletic and powerful enough but the technique just wasn't there. He is now on point with his steps, hand placement and the results are showing. [embedded_ad]

When this offense runs the ball behind him, they are eighth in the league in yards per attempt. As a matter of fact, if you look at the numbers when the ball goes between him and Ronald Leary, they are averaging 6.6 yards per shot.

What Is Balance?

Taking a look at the numbers offensively for the Cowboys, they are 44.5 percent to 55.5 percent run-to-pass on 1st and 10 this season.

If you look at those numbers a little closer, they are 42.1 percent to 57.9 percent run-to-pass on their own side of the field but a more balanced 48.7 percent to 51.3 percent on the opponent's side of the field. If opponents can get the Cowboys in a 2nd and 1 or 2, they are going to get a run more than 60 percent of the time.

What is strange is that in 3rd and 2 or 3, this offense is going to throw the ball 90 percent of the time. The confidence that Garrett and Callahan have in their running game appears to go away on third down, and they are more willing to put that down and distance in the hands of their quarterback than to hand the ball to one of these backs.

With the success that we have seen from Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary and Travis Frederick on that left side, we might see this plan of attack change in the coming weeks.

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