Both OCC and I posted about Jason Garrett's news conference yesterday; we focused mainly on the issues internal to the Cowboys. We wanted to get a feel for how Jason Garrett would be as a coach, and relay that back to you. We'd be remiss if we didn't remind you that Cowboys play the Giants at 4:15 on Sunday at the Meadowlands. See, not only does a football team start to take on the character of its head coach, but those who write about the team do too! One thing we didn't discuss were Justin Tuck's comments about the Cowboys offensive line, so let's take a look at that now.
Here's what Tuck had to say when asked about what he's seen that is different for the Cowboys offensive line this year.
"Just more confusion. It seems like sometimes they're not on the same page, but when they are, I've seen them move great," Tuck said. "I don't know what the case is as far as communication. That's the only thing I've seen different."
A few things about that statement. Generally, it's true. Sometimes you don't get an honest evaluation from an opposing player - no one likes to give out bulletin board material - but in this case Tuck was direct and correct. But, this isn't something new for the Cowboys offensive line, we've been writing for a few years about the best way to beat the Cowboys line. Use stunts, delayed blitzes, disguised blitzes and keep your defensive formation hidden for as long as possible pre-snap. That was the formula in past years; every time we did films reviews you'd see the same thing. Any kind of defensive play that forced the Cowboys line to make decisions about who to block, and when to shed a double-team to pickup another defender, was a problem. Basically, confuse them.
What's different now is they're getting beat on straight ahead rushes, They're getting beat on one-man blitzes that aren't even cleverly disguised. The running backs have been horrible in picking up free blitzers. Previously, if the Cowboys line could get engaged with the defenders, they stood a pretty good chance of being successful. Now, basically rush someone and you got a 50-50 chance of creating pressure.
It may be age, it may be injury, it may be that they have caught the malaise that has infected this whole team. Maybe it's a combination of all the above. Whatever the case, Justin Tuck is mostly right in his assessment. Jason Garrett's challenge is to somehow reverse that. If he can't do that, good luck with being the head coach in 2011.
For a post-script, let's return to the theme of Jason Garrett's press conference. How did he respond when asked about Tuck's scouting report?
"Well I know as a coach, I have a lot of respect for Justin Tuck, as a football player," Garrett said. "I know the challenges he's going to present for us on Sunday. We're trying to get ready for those."
When pressed about the accuracy of Tuck's comments, Garrett stuck to his guns.
"I'll speak about Justin Tuck, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a football player. We've got to get ready to block that guy."
He responds in typical Garrett fashion - reminding us that Justin Tuck will be out there on Sunday, and we got to get ready for that guy. Don't forget, Sunday at 4:15 PM (that would be at the Meadowlands).