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Scouting report: Cowboys vs. Packers (part II)

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Here’s the second part of the Scouting Report from the Packers/Lions game.

Packers defense vs. Cowboys offense

The first thing you have to do to run against the Packers is get DT Ryan Pickett blocked. The guy is an anchor at the line but he has enough footwork to pursue the ball carrier and push into the backfield. He’ll be lined up across from Leonard Davis, with some help from Andre Gurode, and should be a great battle to watch all night. If those two can get some movement on Pickett, the middle will become soft for the Cowboys run game. On the other hand, the Lions were able to run against DT Corey Williams and backup Colin Cole when they were in the game. Cole is now on IR, so a rookie, Justin Harrell will have to help. If the Cowboys see Pickett not in the game at any time, they should think about attacking the middle. The Lions got a lot of their success by running at the right-side of the Packers defense, away from Pickett. If the Cowboys plan to go after that same area then Flozell Adams and Kyle Kosier will be important players in the run game. Running to the edges and getting outside wasn’t an easy thing to do against the Packers linebackers, although the Cowboys need to try every so often to keep the linebackers and prevent them from collapsing into the middle. The Packers are an aggressive pursuit team against the run so cutback runs or misdirection could burn them. The Lions were actually pretty successful running the ball in the game and if they could have provided protection in the pass game or caught all the passes that came their way the game could have gone differently.

Al Harris almost shutout WR Roy Williams on Thanksgiving. They will probably try the same thing with Terrell Owens, so I would expect to see T.O. lined up in a lot of different areas in this game. The Cowboys will probably move him around before the snap to see if they can get a better matchup. That might be hard though because the Packers run a lot of man-to-man coverage so Harris will probably follow Owens wherever he goes. The big question is the health of Charles Woodson, whether he will play and how effective he will be in the game. The Lions were able to take advantage of the other CB’s the Packers trotted out though they weren’t bad, they just couldn’t lock down the receivers like Woodson. If Woodson tries to play, expect Dallas to find out pretty quickly how effective he’ll be on the day. But the place where you really want to go after the Packers in the passing game is between the hashmarks. The Lions found success there like many teams have this year. Detroit doesn’t really use a TE much, but a TE like Jason Witten should have a good day in the middle of the field. The Packers starting free safety may or may not play and his backup is unlikely to play. If they are having injury problems up the middle, Dallas will attack that all night long. Also, slipping the backs out of the backfield and down the seam could be very effective.

The Packers are not a blitzing team, at least they weren’t against the Lions. They basically rushed four guys the whole game and on occasion rushed three. The problem for the Lions is they couldn’t even get that blocked. I don’t think Dallas will have problems blocking four guys most of the time with the way our pass protection has been all year. Marc Colombo will have to line up against Aaron Kampman who is a beast with a motor that doesn’t stop. On the other side, the status of KGB is unknown and he usually came in on passing situations to rush from the other end. If KGB can’t go, Dallas will slide protection and help to Colombo. If KGB does play, they will have to see if Flozell can shut him down one-on-one before deciding protections. Regardless, I think the Cowboys line will eventually force the Packers to start blitzing to get pressure on Romo. At that point, Romo tends to excel if giving just a little time.

Summary

Running through the middle of the Packers defense requires that you block Ryan Pickett. Leonard Davis will be the key here. It’s hard to run outside on the Packers because of good linebackers that flow to the ball. But if you decide to run, run at the right-side of the Packers defense.

Use the TE and other receivers down the middle of the field in the passing game. The Packers were already soft against the pass in the middle of the field and with injuries may even be more vulnerable. See if you can shake Terrell Owens free of Al Harris by moving him around the field. If you want to pass, consider chipping or double-teaming Aaron Kampman, the guy can cause havoc in the backfield. Use the backs as receivers, too.