No more ‘vanilla' game plans, no more meaningless football, and no more excuses for Wade Phillips.
All preseason long Phillips reassured the media that his team's lackluster performances were nothing to be concerned about. He decided it was best to hold back on running any new plays or schemes, so not to give the Redskins or any other team a competitive edge - and because of this, the performance of the offense and defense duly suffered.
Phillips no longer has that excuse. A game plan will be in place for the opener against Washington, and new schemes and plays - or at least some of them - will be revealed.
The preseason doesn't matter, but the opener does.
Last season, 10 of the 12 teams to make the playoffs won their opening game...
- Dez Bryant is going to play significant snaps on Sunday night.
Bryant didn't play a single snap in the preseason, and will obviously be somewhat rusty because of this. However, because Bryant did not play a single snap in the preseason, teams will have zero minutes of film on him. And with Austin, Witten and the three-headed running attack garnering most of the Redskins defensive attention, Bryant will be left in some favorable matchups with defensive backs that don't really know what to expect.
Watch for Jason Garrett to take advantage of this and hit a big play or two with Bryant.
- Donovan McNabb is going to test the Cowboys inside linebackers.
One of Mike Shanahan's bread and butter plays is the ‘play action swap boot' or ‘bootleg'. This play is usually run out of an ‘Ace' set (2WRs, 2TEs, 1RB) with the quarterback under center. The play runs like this: the quarterback snaps the ball, fakes the run to the left, scrambles right and goes through his progressions as he runs. The receiver on the left of the formation (flanker) will run a deep crossing route, while the tight end on the left side of the formation will run a shallow crossing route. The tight end on the right side of the formation will usually block, but may slip out into the flat for the check down. The receiver on the right of the formation (split-end) will either run a comeback or go route, depending on the coverage. The primary receiver on this play is the tight end running the shallow crossing route, which will be, more often than not, Chris Cooley. This play will challenge the Cowboys inside ‘backers, as they must read the fake quickly and be in position to cover Cooley as he breaks to the inside. One false step by Bradie James or Keith Brooking, and Cooley will be left wide open for a nice gain.
- Jason Garrett will decide who wins this game.
The Cowboys will be without two of their starting offensive lineman, Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo. This means Garrett won't be able to rely on his usual bag of tricks to win this game. He will have to get creative in both the passing and running game. A lot more three-step drops and basic running plays will be required for this offense to put points on the board. If Garrett tries to ignore the deficiencies of his second-string lineman (Montrae Holland and Alex Barron) and stick to his normal package of plays, this game could turn into an upset rather quickly. However, if he adjusts his game plan accordingly, and gives the necessary help to Holland and Barron and does not put them in situations where their deficiencies are highlighted, the offense should be able to score the necessary points to win the game (21).
- Jason Witten will have a big game.
A match-up to watch on Sunday night, will be that of Jason Witten vs. LaRon Landry. Landry is an athletic safety that plays with poor technique and takes too many chances. Witten knows this, and will set Landry up with double moves and head bobs, create separation and make a number of key receptions. Plus, with the added emphasis on the use of the tight end in passing patterns in the red-zone, Witten could be set to put some points on the board as well.