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Thursday, November 24, 2011
Grudge Match: Dolphins-Cowboys keys

By Bryan Broaddus


*Cowboys CBs Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick vs. Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall: After what Redskins receiver Jabar Gaffney did last week against the Cowboys secondary, there has to be some concern about this week’s matchup with one of the most physical receivers these corners have faced since the Lions’ Calvin Johnson.

There is no simple way to put this other than Newman and Scandrick had better be ready for a receiver that uses his hands and body to buy space when he is running routes. Marshall will try to beat up on corners.

Scout's Eye
He really is an outstanding route runner. He is so smooth at doing it that he will run full speed up the field, eating the cushion of the corner, then hitting the brakes and working outside to get the corner off-balance.

One of Marshall’s better routes is the slant. When the Dolphins need a first down, they will go in that direction.

Marshall can also be a problem in the red zone. Marshall is outstanding adjusting to the ball, whether it’s back-shoulder throws or fades. Against the Bills last week, he made an outstanding catch along the end line, adjusting to a pass from Matt Moore with a defender on his back.

In studying the Dolphins games, you can see the confidence that Moore has in Marshall. He is not afraid to throw him the ball no matter how covered he is.

The Cowboys secondary cannot afford to have another off day like it did last week with holding calls and soft coverage. It’s going to be a 60-minute game with Brandon Marshall.

*Cowboys ILB Sean Lee vs. Dolphins RB Reggie Bush: Despite playing with one hand, Lee has been outstanding playing with a dislocated left wrist. You would never know that he is handicapped in any way playing with that club on his left hand.

Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has done a nice job of using Bush in several different ways in his attack. In New Orleans, Sean Payton didn’t use Bush as an every-down back, instead creating certain packages for him in the offense. Daboll uses him as a regular back, running him between the tackles.

Bush has really helped the Dolphins' offense when Miami uses him in play-action. He is such an explosive player that defenses are forced to step up to try to make an early tackle before he gets going, then routes develop behind them.

Bush is also effective as a route runner. Bush does a job running the choice or option routes. Bush has outstanding hands, and once he gets the ball in his hands, he can be a problem in the open field.

Lee doesn’t have the speed or the quickness of Bush, but he does have the smarts to read routes and be in position to help defend. The Cowboys have to be careful when Bush has the ball in space. He is a powerful enough runner that can run through tackles. In the open field, he needs to be brought down quickly before he can do any real damage.

*Cowboys RT Tyron Smith vs. Dolphins OLB Cameron Wake: This is going to be a serious battle Thursday afternoon.

I have to be honest that I didn’t know much about Wake as a pass rusher, but I do now. Wake keeps coming at you. He plays with a high motor and nice intensity.

He is one of those players that tends to give Smith trouble because he plays with power and quickness. Smith can handle the athletic rusher all day, but he tends to struggle if he has to try to anchor down and stop a charge.

Wake is dangerous because of how quickly he is able to get up the field and get around the corner, but he does it with power. Wake is a good technique rusher and will use an arm-under move to free himself from the blocker.

In recent games, Smith has done a much better job of handling defenders that spin on him inside, like what Jason Babin did to him in the Eagles game. I don’t believe that Smith will have troubles in the running game against Wake, but when the ball has to go in the air, Wake is a different animal. Smith will also get a shot at future Hall of Famer Jason Taylor as well, which is another good matchup.