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Cowboys FanPost Of The Week: A Deeper Look At Rob Ryan's Defensive Schemes

Hello all you breathless anticipators of FanPost notoriety, I'm back with another edition of our weekly FPOTW awards show--and it won't be hosted by Ricky Gervais. Nope, its yours truly sporting the tux at the podium and doling out the "rabbies" (and, hopefully, escorting a couple of those models who carry the awards onstage to the BTB afterparty). So, polish your acceptance speeches--and keep 'em short; we've instructed the band to start playing after 30 seconds. And, yes, its an honor just to be nominated.

As per usual, we have two honorable mentions and a weekly winner. But before we get to these, I just had to include a FanShot posted by O.C.C. yesterday: a recent study shows that Philadelphia tops the list of the most depressed football cities. We always knew at Eagles fans were clinical; now there's statistical proof!

Okay, on to our regularly scheduled programming. This week's first shout-out goes to the prolific Hank Hill who, like Meryl Streep, has once again received multiple nominations. Yesterday, he penned a hopeful post outlining the various reasons why the Cowboys should make the playoffs in 2011. Indeed, I think what happens in 2011 will be fascinating to watch, for no other reason than it will help us to understand whether 2010 was an aberration or a downward trend. Earlier in the week, Hank offered a thoughtful look at something we have all (somewhat desperately) looked for of late: signs that Jerry Jones might be changing his ways. He includes a lot of quotable material, but this is the bit that got me:

The best way that Garrett can prevent Jerry from returning to his old ways would be for Garrett to win and win big. If Garrett is able to put his stamp on this team, and we can have real success in the playoffs, I think Jerry will continue to let Garrett run the show. If Garrett fails, Jerry can say, " See I told you so. We tried giving the coach power, and it didn't work. Now let me run the show again."

There are myriad reasons to pray that Jason Garrett is not only successful, but wins big. Aside from the joy and respect that winning big brings, the most important of these is that he can perpetuate that winning by enticing Jerrah away from the operational epicenter. Nice work, Hank!

Our next honorable mention goes to a FPOTW newbie, heymann, who cracks the starting lineup by taking us down memory lane--or, more properly, revisiting a recurring nightmare. Looking at last weekend's games induced Hey to recall those heady, long-ago days when the Cowboys were a yearly presence in the NFC Championship. In particular, he articulates the horror of the post-Staubach years: 1980-83. Thus the title of his post: "Stomach Punch." For Hey, the worst of these was the loss at RFK to the Redskins in 1983, largely because the poor man is mired in Hog territory: he lives in Fairfax, VA. For my money, the 1981 loss will always be the killer: in 1980 and '82, I think the Cowboys lost to better teams; I still think that 1981 Cowboys team was one of their best--and that Joe Montana was just trying to throw the ball away, but didn't have the arm strength to get it out of the end zone...but I'm not bitter!

Good stuff, Hey, and welcome to the FPOTW club. We'll teach you the secret handshake at our next meeting.

And on to this week's winner. Give me a moment to open the envelope...and the "rabbie" goes to...(collective intake of breath) Chandus! Once the swell of applause has died down, I'll happily tell you that Chandus has blessed us with a FanPost that, in the level of its research, the acuteness of its analysis and the quality of its writing, measures up to the very best work seen on the front page. In his post, Chandus went to the tape--of two of the Cleveland Browns' most impressive defensive games last season, back-to-back wins (on either side of a bye week) against the Saints and Patriots. For each game, Chandus looks at the ways in which the Browns' (now Cowboys') defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, deployed his players. He examines Ryan's numerous, highly innovative defensive alignments, the ways in which he positioned his safeties, how he disguised which players would be blitzing, and how he mixed up the number of pass rushers he sent. For a coda, he compares how Rob's strategies measure up to those used by his brother, Jets' HC Rex Ryan, in New York's playoff victory over the Patriots. Lastly, Chandus includes a list of Cowboys players who he thinks will fit this scheme, as well as those who might not.

I haven't included a quote from his post largely because its all so good that I had difficulty singling out any one section. All I can say is drop what you're doing, go here and read it, immediately. You'll thank me; armed with Chandus' insights, you'll effortlessly chat up the spokesmodels and DC Cheerleaders who are certain to be at the BTB afterparty.

Richly deserved congrats, Chandus!

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