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Cowboys New Defensive Philosophy Pays Dividends

DeMarcus Ware didn't get to blitz much, but he did get the win.
DeMarcus Ware didn't get to blitz much, but he did get the win.

Of all the things I've read and heard over the past few days, maybe nothing is more important than this from Bryan McCann.

McCann's film study revealed the Giants' tendency to run fade routes in the end zone. Nestled at the 2-yard, line he expected Hakeem Nicks to push toward the end zone immediately. "He didn't," McCann said. "He stuttered his feet, and in my head I'm thinking he's got to be running something inside. I was able to drop in and make the play."

Now that's what I'm talking about. It comes from a guy who was forced into action due to injury. This wasn't a starter, or all-star, but a bench player who was on the practice squad a few weeks ago. And granted it's only one play, and McCann will likely be back on the bench with Mike Jenkins' good prognosis and Terence Newman likely gutting it out again. But here we have a guy actually putting it all together at a crucial moment of the game. Preparation during the week on film study. The ability to read what Nicks was doing, make the correct decision and implement it. This has seemed like a foreign concept to the Dallas Cowboys in 2010.

It could all stem from a different philosophy under defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni. Any Cowboys fan watching that game could see that the Cowboys weren't nearly as aggressive on defense as previously. The scheme was simplified, and the base defense was in vogue. There was a lot more zone coverage, a lot more deep help from the safeties, and a lot of dropping back in coverage and letting the underneath stuff play out. One of the keys to that kind of defense is you have to tackle after the short catches, and the Cowboys were fairly proficient in that area on Sunday.

The other thing they didn't do was blitz. The secondary has been getting abused this year because our blitzes weren't hitting home and they were stuck on an island in man-to-man - and they couldn't hold up. Jenkins' mulitple pass interference penalties and Alan Ball's poor play were evidence of that.

So coach Pasqualoni dialed it back a notch, even go so far as to blitz only three times by DeMarcus Ware's count.

It was a stark difference for Ware. Under head coach Wade Phillips, he had the green light to blitz on virtually every snap.

"It was different for me,'' Ware said. "It holds people honest. The majority of time they think I'm coming, but sometimes I can drop out of there and they look and say, 'DeMarcus is dropping this time, so I have to go to the second read.' "That gives other guys opportunities to get pressure on them.''

Of course, I don't know how long Ware would be happy with that arrangement. When BTB spoke to Ware a week ago, he was all about blitzing more, unleashing the dogs. But, I guess as long as they win, he can put up with it.

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