The Dallas Cowboys are going to blitz more, according to owner and coach-wannabe, Jerry Jones. Well, as Bob Sturm very thoroughly points out in his blog, it turns out that Dallas is absolutely dreadful at blitzing. Not only do they seldom get home, but their coverage usually gets badly beaten.
But it isn't the blitz by Dallas that is the play to which I refer. It's the screen pass by the opposing offense.
Because, to my eye, Dallas is pretty horrid at dealing with screens. With Sean Lee out, the linebacking corps is ill- equipped to cover running backs in the passing game under any circumstances. But with a new emphasis on blitzing and two very good screen teams on the schedule (Green Bay and Philadelphia), it would appear that the table is set for Dallas' patch-work defense to be shredded by screen passes. And my guess is that Kirk Cousins will have plenty of dump offs to his running backs next week as well.
In Bob Sturm's recent post about the Dallas defense, you will find that the second gif perfectly illustrates the problem with Dallas as a blitzing defense. What is most worrisome about that play is how slow the defense is to recognize the screen and then how easily Brandon Carr and Ernie Sims are blocked.
The reason the screen pass is so devastating to a weak defense is that its really a form of psychological warfare. Just as the defensive line thinks they are earning their money and getting home, they realize they have been had. Made to look foolish as well as getting burned for big yardage. With a defense that is supposed to thrive on a penetrating, aggressive front four, the screen is almost legalized taunting.
While a great many offensive plays work well against the Dallas defense this year, the timing maybe perfect for the screen pass to become the final straw that breaks this team. Hopefully Marinelli has spent sufficient time this week preparing his troops for this possibility.