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Cowboys Ready To Go Vertical Against Saints?

QB Brandon Weeden was open in his recent discussion about the Cowboys willingness to attack the Saints downfield.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

One of the criticisms of the Dallas Cowboys game plan last week was that the offense did not attack the Falcons downfield. According to the Cowboys quarterback, they did not have the match ups they wanted for him to be able to go vertical on Atlanta, in part due to missing Dez Bryant but also thanks to the coverage that the Falcons prefer. Thus the game plan was to focus on the softer underneath targets.

"Obviously you guys are beating a dead horse, talking about throwing the ball underneath. That was our plan all along. You look back, was there a couple times I could've thrown a ball maybe to outside receiver given the plays that were called? Maybe one or two I could've thrown it out there. But those were the matchups we liked and that's what they were giving us in coverage." - Brandon Weeden

We can debate this philosophy until we are blue in the face, what's done is done. It did not work; it is time to move on to the future while learning from the past. That is what Dallas will be doing against the New Orleans Saints and their defense under former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Ryan, as we all remember likes to gamble on the blitz. During his short tenure in Dallas we often saw the Cowboys fall victim to Ryan's fetish for designing exotic packages that cost the team dearly. Weeden and the Cowboys offensive staff know that he will be bringing more of the same this weekend and they are planning ways to make the efforts costly for the gold and black clad team from the Crescent City.

The Ryan philosophy lends itself to an offense that can throw the ball down field, as long as the offensive line can keep the passer on his feet long enough to make throws. Brandon Weeden does have the arm to take advantage of the opportunity. The Cowboys also have the talent on the offensive line to allow him the time. For Dallas this is going to boil down to simple execution.

There have been struggles up front for the Cowboys offense this season. Bob Sturm threw out the challenge this week, The line's performance is unacceptable and that must change immediately, both in running and passing situations. They are going to have to live up to expectations.

It is easier to blame a backup QB than it is to ask your 1st round picks what their deal is, but the fact is there have been too many blown blocks and penalties from this group to be throwing roses at their feet when the offense has stuttered in September.  Sure, Dez Bryant and Tony Romo would be a great quick fix, but if everything in this offense is built on the strong foundation of this front, then let's see it.

If the line can get itself together, then the Cowboys have a chance in this game. Given time Weeden can cash in on the opportunities that New Orleans will give him to fulfill his statement made to the media.

If we got a drop-back pass with four verticals and a comeback, if they’re there, I’m going to rip them,"

The opportunity for him to do so will be there this week. Last season against this same defense Tony Romo was able to put up solid passing numbers in spite of the fact that Dallas rushed for a couple hundred yards against the Saints. He also threw three touchdown passes. The New Orleans defense is ripe to be ripped for those who survive the attacking Ryan philosophy. Weeden has the arm to make them pay and he still has a corps of pass catchers with which to get the job done. If he gets help up front we can see the same quarterback who got it done in Philadelphia.

It all comes down to two questions:

1. Will the game plan allow Weeden to attack; and

2.. Will the players execute their roles so that he can do so?


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