Thursday, December 9, 2010

How the Cowboys Can Stop Vick

With the Eagles coming to town Sunday night the Cowboys will have their work cut out for them this week. Last year the Cowboys dominated the Eagles and were able to shut down the Eagle offensive attack with ease. But it will be much more difficult this year now that Vick has reverted to his pre-prison form. The task on Sunday night will be to contain Michael Vick.

So the big puzzle the Cowboys will have to solve is how to deal with the unique skill set that Vick brings to the quarterback position. They can't sit back in their zone coverage like they have been regularly over the last few weeks or Vick is going to beat them running or throwing the ball deep because he'll have time to wait for his speedy receivers to get behind the defense. They can't blitz every down or Vick will kill them with his legs if the blitzers don't come up with the sack. And blitzing typically leaves your secondary at a disadvantage if you can't get to the quarterback and disrupt his passes.

So what should the Cowboys do to stop Vick? I think defenses have started to show the Cowboys a winning game plan over the last few weeks. There are several things that have to be done on defense to slow down the Eagle attack.

1. Get pressure on the quarterback without sending extra defenders. I'm not just talking about Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer here either. It is important to get pressure on the quarterback from all angles with Vick so he doesn't have room to escape and run wild. So Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Igor Olshansky and Stephen Bowen all need to put pressure on Vick on a regular basis.

2. Force Vick to scramble to his right. When Vick rolls to his left he can still throw with great accuracy. But when he has to move to the right he is forced to throw across his body and his poor fundamentals get exposed. That means it is vitally important that Demarcus Ware does not lose contain on his rush.

3. Don't let Jeremy Maclin or DeSean Jackson get open deep. Vick has a tendency to wait for the big play to develop even when there are receivers open underneath. As long as the secondary can protect against the deep ball it will keep Vick waiting in the pocket and give the pass rush a better shot at a sack.

4. Don't let the Eagle running game become a factor. You can successfully stop Vick if the entire defense is able to focus on just Vick. But if the Eagles run the ball successfully the defensive line and outside linebackers suddenly have to worry about the run first so Vick will have more time to slice up the defense.

5. Allow Sean Lee to spy Vick in some situations. I don't think you can use a defender on every play to focus only on Vick. But in situations where you know Vick is likely to run it would be a wise move to devote a defender to spying Vick. When the Cowboys beat the Falcons in 2006 with Vick at quarterback Bobby Carpenter was able to contain Vick's running because he was able to just focus on Vick. I believe Sean Lee is faster and more athletic than Carpenter so he could be successful in the same role on the defense. Carpenter came up with one and a half sacks in the spy role and we all know that Lee is a far superior player to what Carpenter will ever be.

This is going to be a tough game for the Cowboys even if they can minimize the damage that Vick does in the game. Losing Dez Bryant changes a lot of things on the offensive side of the ball because defenses were committing extra defenders to Dez. The offense will need to run the ball consistently and score some points because the Eagles will score even if the defense plays well throughout the game.

I don't have the best feeling about this game based on the way the defense has been struggling this year. But the Cowboys are rolling now so I can't pick against them. I think the game will be a hard fought battle but I am picking the Cowboys to win 28-24.


  1. So very very painful.


  2. I can't be too upset with the boys. The game was within reach, we played them tough for the most part. I thought we did a good job of containing Vick most of the game. We obviously need help in the secondary as we gave up too many big plays.

    Jason Garrett consistently keeps us in a position to win games, and I think that's huge. Sooner or later we're going to put it all together.

  3. Sorry for the double post, but we need a Deon Sanders type player. Somebody fast, dynamic, and a ball hawk. We need quarterbacks to fear the repercussions of throwing it up to our secondary. Back in the day, quarterbacks would think twice about throwing it Primetime's way lest they get a pick 6.

  4. I'm definitely not mad at them. But just let down. The eagles talk more smack than any other fan base we go against hands down.

    But that was partially rewarded because of the massive sacks on Vick. Jackson was smart to take a dive instead of getting hit by Ware.

    We need to get some D going quickly. hands down what lost the game (despite many errors) was not getting another possession on the ball at the end of the game all they ahd to do was contain the running game.

    Also I scoff at you kitna lovers. You see now the difference between romo and kitna. Romo would have won that. I mean how many times can D turn the ball over to you and you not get the points up on the board.


  5. @ the person that posted "
    Jason Garrett consistently keeps us in a position to win games, and I think that's huge. Sooner or later we're going to put it all together. "

    I seem to remember Wade Phillips still having us in positions to win many games. Just because it was someone else doesn't mean that the fundamental issue with the team is covered. Other than the blow out at Lambo (which has happened from Tom Laundry to Jimmy Johnson to now), there is a fundamental problem with this team and that is philosophy. I hate the fact that once we start winning everything is okay to fans and the problems are small and vice versa when we start losing.

    As I have been saying all along, and said last week, there are tremendous holes in this team and not a single coach can fix it.

    Some things I liked about the game were that we went back to the draw play that worked well last season. Didn't do much though and I hate the fact Kitna is the leading rusher on this team in terms of YPR. Beuhler is kicking well (although that 50 yarder was barely in) and seems to be hitting a groove. We'll probably be saying the opposite after next game when he misses on. I think league average is around 85% and I think he is floating right around that.

    I am convinced Choice should be the starting running back. I absolutely hated what he did at the end of the game, but objectively players across all teams are friends, but I would've liked to see that happen after Week 17 or over the phone; his nephew is two years old and I'm sure it could've waited. Felix tried to bulk up too much and it's hurt his explosiveness. Barber tried to slim down and it hurt his power. These two backs need to stop trying to do it all and stick to their specialty. I understand Barber wanted to earn his money, but bulking up is how he got paid- FG turn into TD's when we can score on 1st and goal at the one. It's disgusting to watch us not punch it in, but I think that has a lot to do with the heart (or lack there of) of this offensive line.

    Building on what I said last week about drafting particular players for needs, we need someone that is just nasty. We need someone or someone to develop the nastiness that someone like Ray Lewis has. Not only for accountability, but as we can all see, this team struggles at times to get themselves internally motivated. There should be NO WAY we let up that kind of play the first offensive play of the game. Two great open field tackles, but DeShawn single-handedly destroying us and not getting a stop at the end of the game shows the lack of heart. Three straight first down runs I believe we saw. Reminiscent of the Ravens game two years ago, but they didn't go for touchdowns. Brooking provided that to some degree this year, but it's clear he is past his prime. Watching film shows him constantly behind TE's and not a chance against receivers (to his credit, not many LB's can match Jackson and Maclin)

    I took the loss pretty badly because all three of my best friends are eagles fans and they let me have it yesterday, but we have to start looking at the situation that we are in objectively and not flipping back and forth depending on if we are winning and losing. These are the same players and very much the same coaches.

    I like how Garret is handling himself and I am more comfortable with him as HC, but I stand by him hiring an OC. If Chargers don't make playoffs I'm fairly certain Turner will be fired and we may have a Cowboys reunion here with Garret, Turner,

  6. and potentially Reeves coming in as a consultant for personnel.

    WBF, you are spot on with Romo. Looking past how our gameplan is very different with limited down field plays; Romo is one of the best at selling the play action (which is why the draw and quick screens work so well for us) and you mean to tell me that Romo couldn't exploit a defense where three of their starters are hurt including Samuels? Kitna is a great back up, but I believe I saw a graphic that he is averaging around 6 yards per pass.

    Ultimately, O-line and secondary are the problems. Nothing ground breaking there, but I think more than anything it comes down to motivation. We need a player on each side of the ball that will get in people's faces and bring that passion and nastiness that is needed in football. If you look around the league, you have those guys on every team that looks like contenders. I would love to see Ware be that guy, but it could be anyone, just someone who will grow a pair and get players motivated.