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Dallas defense diagnosed?

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Here's the story that is the most interesting thing to come out of the Detroit game. The Lions' receivers are laughing at how easy it was to beat the Dallas coverage schemes.

Here's how Mike Furrey put it, when referencing how the Seattle Seahawks will be game-planning for Dallas.

Mike Furrey won't be asked to take part in those sessions. But the Detroit receiver doesn't have to be in the room to know what's coming. Furrey, receiver Roy Williams and the rest of the Lions became the latest offense to expose the Cowboys secondary for the flawed, predictable unit it has become.

"I think you're going to see Seattle come out with three wides and spread them out a little bit," Furrey said of Saturday's first-round matchup. "You've got Shaun Alexander up there, so they're going to be able to run the ball. They're not going to be able to close the defense enough. I think they [the Seahawks] are going to be able to ..." Furrey paused. Maybe he sensed Detroit's season-high 39 points were indictment enough and anything else he said would be piling on.

"Dallas has a great team, though," Furrey said.


Here's their main indictment of the Cowboys secondary.
But what's happening with the Cowboys goes deeper. They haven't altered or disguised their scheme to compensate for the fact they're not getting consistent pressure. Not only does the quarterback have time to read the play, he doesn't have to worry about the Cowboys throwing a defensive wrinkle his way in coverage.

What the Lions did - and what other teams did in December - is flood a zone with three receivers. Most teams will alter their coverage in that situation.

The Cowboys don't. Opponents know where each defender will be and who is most likely to come open.


More specifics:
Here's the plan: The Lions worked to get [Roy] Williams on the same side as [Aaron] Glenn and Cowboys safety Roy Williams, knowing the safety would leave Glenn alone if the Lions threatened the run.

"That's why they call it play action," the Lions' Roy Williams said. "He's taught to fill a certain gap, and that's what he's supposed to do.

"At the same time, we're running one-on-one with the corners. You can either run a go or a post or anything you want to do."


And finally:
"We knew that they leave the middle open a little bit," said Furrey, who caught 11 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. "There are some catches to be made in there. That's their normal defense to leave four deep all the way across.

"And we knew we would be able to take advantage on the outside because they never switch off routes."


That's pretty devastating on the surface. But I'm always a little skeptical of game plans that surface in the last month of the season that serve as the magic bullet. It's hard to believe that teams couldn't see things like that after about a month into the season. So I can't buy the whole argument that it's the scheme, part of the blame has to reside with the players trying to execute it. Earlier in the year, when we had Greg Ellis and could generate some pressure from both sides, the scheme worked.

But it's not working now, that's for sure. Sometimes if the players are failing to execute properly, it's up to the coaches to make adjustments to compensate for that. Bill Parcells ultimately holds that responsibility. He, along with Mike Zimmer, need to come up with something that allows the players to succeed. They tried a lot of things with the front seven in the Lions game, and they did manage to get some pressure. But the secondary wasn't capable of covering the wide receivers.

Here's what the Lions' Roy Williams said about it.

"But it's the NFL. You make adjustments. Sooner or later, it's going to come to a halt."

It's time for this coaching staff to make adjustments. Bill Parcells needs to prove he can still out-coach the opposition. Saturday he coaches against a familiar friend, Mike Holmgren, but his defense better look like an unknown stranger to the Seahawk's offense.