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Texas Ace

Teh Acester
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I don't even remember you being like this in 2007 or 2014.
I can't speak for Booze, but I think his reasons for feeling differently this year from those years are probably the same as mine -- Garrett and Co.

And no, this isn't another simplistic shot at Garrett, it's just the truth.

I always always always expected the other shoe to drop with those other teams. And the reason for that is, there was just no way that an organization run like ours with a coaching staff like ours was going to win a Super Bowl.

Sure some teams have caught lightning in a bottle and been one year wonders, but I always felt like it was practically impossible for the cowboys to even reach a Super Bowl doing things the way that they did them.

And while the Cowboys right now may not be a model franchise, it's clear for all to see that in spite of the Jones family way of doing things, they've still managed to assemble the best coaching staff we've seen around here since Parcells was coach, and the locker room culture hasn't been this good since maybe those 90s teams.

So while I don't think we're guaranteed anything, it just feels good again to feel like you have a chance -- that's all.

Just a chance.

Just that alone makes it fun to be a Cowboys fan right now.
 

Iamtdg

One-armed Knife Sharpener
Staff member
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Messages
95,220
What Bill Belichick will take away from Cowboys’ offense; why Patriots had Dan Quinn wearing a helmet at practice

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys hands the ball off to running back Ezekiel Elliott #21 during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

By Jon Machota 2h ago

FRISCO, Texas — The Cowboys believe their greatest offensive strength is their balance. Shut down the run, they’re capable of throwing for 400 yards. Allow them to run, they’re capable of rushing for more than 200 yards.

But in which area are they better?

Arguably the greatest NFL coach and defensive mind is about to provide that answer. What will Bill Belichick try to take away when the Cowboys travel to Foxboro, Mass., on Sunday to take on New England?

These Patriots (2-3) are far from the team they were from 2001 to 2019, when they played in nine Super Bowls, winning six. But they still have Belichick and a group that ranks top five in scoring defense, holding opponents to 18.4 per game, and total defense, at 317.6 yards per game. Their passing defense has been their strength. They rank middle of the pack against the run.

So on paper, it looks like the Cowboys will continue running the ball, maybe a big day for both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Not necessarily.

Belichick’s greatest strength is taking away what an offense does best. Some say it’s taking away their right hand and making them play with their left. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott joked that the Cowboys will be ready because they have two hands. When Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was asked about that theory this week, he quickly responded with his own quip: “I’m a lefty. I’m OK. Always hating on the lefties.”

Prescott prefers to call it taking away your fastball.

So what is the Cowboys’ fastball?

“It depends on the game,” Prescott responded. “And I think that’s credit to the coaches and the men in the locker room. Just the way we prepare week in and week out. We obviously come in with an approach to be balanced, run and pass. But if we need to lean on one more than the other, we’re going to do that. I think if anything, it’s our selflessness. Guys just being unselfish and wanting to see the team have success. That can be our fastball.”


The Cowboys haven’t defeated the Patriots since 1996. They’ve lost their last six in the series. Their last win at New England was in 1987.

When they last played in Week 12 of the 2019 season, the Patriots held Dallas to only nine points, 16 first downs, 321 total yards and 212 passing yards. The weather played a significant role that day as it rained throughout the 38-degree, windy game. The expected forecast for this Sunday is partly cloudy, no rain and around 63 degrees at kickoff.

The Cowboys are expecting Belichick to try to take away their running game. During Dallas’ best two seasons of the past decade, a strong running game was its identity. In 2014, the Cowboys had the NFL’s second-best rushing attack, averaging 147 yards per game. They had the second-best again in 2016, averaging 150 yards per game. This year, the Cleveland Browns are the only team running the ball better than the Cowboys through the first five weeks. Dallas is third in rushing attempts (32.6 per game), second in rushing yards per game (172.8) and third in yards per carry (5.3).

Another possibility is that Belichick finds a way to take away more than one thing. It could be the running game and one of their top receivers. It was interesting to see how much he mentioned tight end Dalton Schultz’s name this week while speaking with reporters. After all, Schultz leads the Cowboys in receptions with 26. But even if he takes away the tight end, that still leaves standout wide receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. His best way to cause problems in the passing game could be from several different rushes up the middle to try and take advantage of second-year center Tyler Biadasz. While his pass-blocking grade is one of the NFL’s worst among centers, according to Pro Football Focus, he turned in his best pass-blocking grade of the season last week against the New York Giants.

Perhaps this game turns into something similar to the Cowboys’ season opener and Prescott ends up throwing 50 times. Of course, Dallas lost that game. But that was against Tom Brady, who is no longer in New England. Will rookie quarterback Mac Jones be able to keep up in that style of game? His receivers are nowhere close to Dallas’ or the ones Brady is throwing to in Tampa Bay, and Jones hasn’t thrown for more than two touchdowns in a game this season.

But it all comes back to Belichick. If he wasn’t on the home team’s sideline, the Cowboys would be heavily favored. Instead, the line has stayed around 3 or 4.

“From a football mind standpoint, I really don’t know that I’ve met anybody really that close,” former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said of Belichick in a 2019 interview on 105.3 The Fan. “Bill Belichick, he’s not going to go into a game feeling like, ‘We don’t have answers.’ And when I say that, I mean everyone says he’s going to take away what you do best. They think he just double teams the best player. I’m like, ‘No, you have to understand, he’s taking away the inside run while taking away the slot receiver or Antonio Brown.’ It’s like, they know he’s going to take away Antonio Brown, but he takes away multiple things, and he does it differently the next time he plays you, with different looks.

“When you have people that can teach you the game after you’ve been studying it for 15, 20 years, that’s a joy. I honestly learn every time I’m around him. He’s really, really special.”

Belichick on Mike McCarthy. The Patriots coach has only faced a McCarthy-coached team four times. Belichick is 3-1 in those games, winning 35-0 over McCarthy in 2006, his first season in Green Bay, 31-27 in 2010 and 31-17 in 2018. McCarthy’s lone victory came in 2014, a 26-21 final at Lambeau Field.

Belichick had a 333-word response on Friday when asked for his thoughts on the Cowboys head coach. Here is an edited version of his answer.

“I have a ton of respect for Mike,” Belichick said. “Situationally, I think Mike is probably as good as anybody that we play against. It hasn’t been very often, and I’m happy about that. I wouldn’t want to play Mike twice a year. There’s situational football; third down, fourth down, two-minute, four-minute, end of half, end of game, fourth-down calls, low red-area calls, last-play calls. Things like that. They’re all good. We, in the weeks that we’ve played him, probably spent more time on those plays than with any other team. They’re very well prepared, and they always seem to execute them at a very high level.

“Mike’s teams are sound fundamentally. You’ve got to go out there and play well to beat them. They don’t beat themselves. They don’t make mistakes. To stop them, you’ve got to go out there and play 60 minutes of good football. That’s really hard. I think every time we’ve played them, I’ve always felt like they had a really good game plan and they had a really good plan of attack. They made it hard on us, and they’re hard to defend. Not just the players, but the positions they put us in, how they try to attack us, and they have a variety of ways doing it. But at the end of the day, they gave us some problems. They challenged us, both schematically and with their personnel matchups.”

Injury updates. The bad news for the Cowboys is that CB Trevon Diggs (ankle), LT Tyron Smith (neck), RB Ezekiel Elliott (ribs), DE Randy Gregory (knee) and S Damontae Kazee (hip) are all officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. The good news for the Cowboys is that they are all expected to play.

Smith’s neck started bothering him during Thursday’s practice. He had an MRI after practice. The results were considered “favorable,” according to the team. Safety Donovan Wilson (groin) was limited all week and listed as questionable for Sunday. He will likely be a game-time decision. DE Dorance Armstrong (ankle) is the only Cowboys player on the active roster to be ruled out. New England ruled out starting right guard Shaq Mason (abdomen).

Judging by what the Cowboys said this week, it sounds like another three to four weeks before DT Neville Gallimore (elbow) and DE DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) are expected to return.

Micah Parsons on the process. How exactly did the rookie go from playing mostly middle linebacker in rookie minicamp to a swiss army knife who now lines up all over the field? Parsons broke it down this week when I asked if he’s exceeding his own expectations.

“I would say I have exceeded (my expectations),” he said. “I think (defensive coordinator Dan Quinn) slowly raised me in. I was at mike (linebacker), and then he was like, ‘Hey, I want you to get reps at (defensive) line.’ I remember I put a good move on the tackle, and he was like, ‘Yeah, I like that. I see what you’re doing.’ At minicamp, I got some more reps at it. In training camp, he brought me down and was like, ‘I want to see you do this.’ I think he was just trying to groom me and (then he) was like, ‘All right, I see. I believe in you.’

“So now, pre-game plan, he’ll just call me up and be like, ‘Hey, we have a new plan. You ready for it?’ And I’m like, ‘Of course. You don’t even need to question it.’ He says, ‘Just look it over tonight for me.’ I was like, ‘I got you. I’ll be ready.’ He says, ‘You always are.’ I think that’s the type of relationship we have now. I built (his) trust in (me), and I’ve got that trust in him, that he’s always going to put me in position where he thinks I’ll succeed and help the team succeed.”

Quinn working on cut blocks. Because the Patriots are known to execute more cut blocks than any of the teams Dallas has faced up to this point, the team’s defensive coordinator decided to throw on a helmet this week.

“That’s the type of hands-on coach he is,” Parsons said. “My man put a helmet on and started diving at knees.”


“I was a little bit surprised by it,” Gregory said. “I didn’t know what to expect with it. But it was more for a cutting drill, so he was trying to be cautious and protect himself. … He was just trying to give us a look from that end. It was funny to see him have it on and struggle to take it off.

“He was kind of cutting us a little bit harder, a little bit faster than I was expecting him to. So you really had to go out there and protect yourself also. But that’s good. He’s giving us a good look.”

More from Gregory. The 2015 second-round pick has been the Cowboys’ most impactful edge rusher this season, totaling 19 pressures, two sacks, five QB hits and 12 hurries in four games, according to PFF. The Cowboys’ official team stats have Gregory with a team-high 12 pressures and two sacks, second to only Parsons, who has 2 1/2.

“As far as my confidence goes, I feel like it’s right where it needs to be,” Gregory said this week. “I feel like I can play with anybody. If I continue to go out there and prove that, I’ll be all right on that end. There’s parts of my game I’ve still got to work on. There’s part of my body that don’t feel right. Those things I’ve got to manage and work through.

“But my play on the field, I’m not really surprised about it. I think I’m going to trend upward. How I feel I’ve gone, the way I feel I’ve played, I’ve kind of put my feet down and progressed throughout the year. So I hope I can do that and continue to put pressure on the QB and take advantage of ways I know I can.”

 

Simpleton

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Joined
Apr 8, 2013
Messages
10,675
They're going to initially focus on stopping the run, and probably load the short zones in the passing game, and make us try to hit them over the top.

I don't think Belichick will just sit back and guard against the deep play while allowing us to methodically pop off 6-8 yards a play.

If that works over the first 1.5-2 quarters and the game kind of bogs down, I'd expect him to then back off to force us to drive the field with limited possessions left.

That's all in a perfect world though, if we get a lead and pull away just a bit they're basically fucked.
 

ravidubey

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Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
15,268
They're going to initially focus on stopping the run, and probably load the short zones in the passing game, and make us try to hit them over the top.

I don't think Belichick will just sit back and guard against the deep play while allowing us to methodically pop off 6-8 yards a play.

If that works over the first 1.5-2 quarters and the game kind of bogs down, I'd expect him to then back off to force us to drive the field with limited possessions left.

That's all in a perfect world though, if we get a lead and pull away just a bit they're basically fucked.
He’s in for a fucking shock. This isn’t the typical AFC East rape-partner he’s been used to the past 21 years
 
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