I was talking to a college buddy of mine yesterday. He's a Broncos fan.
He told me not to hold my breath waiting for Montrae Holland to make an impact. He ate his way out of Denver and that was with Coach Shanahan watches his every move, trying to get his weight down.
"And you know the Cowboys ain't going to do that," he said. "Wade is too nice for that."
Well last time I checked Holland seemed to play awful well Thursday. Rafeal's analysis was spot-on. But I didn't see any penalties or false starts and Romo wasn't touched. I was concerned when Wade said he'd start.
Good call Wade.
That's the Wade I've seen lately. And I've been saying that a lot. Especially about this defense and it's increased sack productions and turnovers. This is the defense I've expected from Wade and he has delivered since reclaiming play-calling duties.
"We have a good rush team," Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips said after the Cowboys improved to 8-4. "We get a lot of hits on the quarterback. It's something that you have to do, I think, to be able to win. Our pass rush was really good. Hasselbeck had not been sacked that much (12 times). Their team overall had, but he hadn't. I thought we really got after him and got after the passing game."
I fully supported the decision when Wade was hired. Part of my reasoning was I hoped he'd turn our defense into a silver and blue version of what his San Diego teams were: sack-collecting, pressure-driven, turnover-machines. This year started off slow, but we're finally seeing the fruits from Wade's harvest. Thursday's game was a perfect example. Watching the defense work was satisfying not only because they were blitzing but they were blitzing smarter and more effectively. The statistics bear this out.
Dallas is currently No. 1 in sacks with 40. DeMarcus Ware is the sack leader in the league with 15. Greg Ellis has five sacks and Jay Ratliff has six. The Cowboys have created 12 turnovers in the last seven games. They've held their opponents to 10 points or less in three out of its last five games. Yes, they played the 49ers and the Seahawks, two sad-sack franchises. Yes, the Giants ran all over us. This is true. But they also held an 8-3 team without a TD (the Bucs) and forced the Giants into three turnovers and sacked Eli Manning four times. Factor that in as well.
My biggest criticisms of Wade has been two-fold: our zone is too soft and we don't blitz often enough or effectively. He's addressed both. We do a much better job of mixing up our coverages and you can see that our blitzes aren't as obvious now. One play you might see a eight or nine-man front and then next you might see Ware dropping into coverage. James, who can be reckless at times, has channeled that energy into controlled bursts. I saw him obliterate a tight end and back trying to block him Thursday and then attack Hasselback without overrunning the play, which I've seen him do against the Eagles and the Redskins. James has five sacks this season after having a total of five sacks for the last five years. I credit Wade with this.
Billy P once told Greg Ellis that sacks are "overrated." I certainly disagree and I would assume Wade does too. Sacks and pressure are two huge factors that contributed to our recent success. There's no doubt about that. When is the last time you saw the Cowboy defense play with so much enthusiasm?
I credit Wade with that too.