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Friday, December 30, 2011
A look back at Rob Ryan's pressure

By Todd Archer



IRVING, Texas -- For the Cowboys to beat the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium they will need to get after Eli Manning.

In 2008, the Cowboys sacked him 12 times in two games. In the five games since then they have sacked him twice in 193 pass attempts. They did not get to him in the first meeting this season in which he threw it 47 times.

Coach Jason Garrett said sometimes sacks can be overrated, that pressure means more. That’s true. A quarterback can simply just throw the ball away when under some heat, which means almost as much as a sack.

But the Cowboys did not get much pressure the last time.

I re-watched the first game between the Cowboys and Giants and paid particular attention to the Cowboys pass rush in the second half when Manning threw it 28 times for 254 yards.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan brought five-man pressure (or more) 10 times, four-man pressure seven times, three-man pressure 10 times and two-man pressure once. By my unofficial count, the Cowboys pressured Manning nine times in the second half that included an intentional grounding penalty.

When Ryan brought five or more, the Cowboys pressured Manning six of the 10 snaps. With the four-man pressure, they got to him twice (out of seven snaps) and three-man once (out of 10 snaps).

On Mario Manningham’s 47-yard touchdown catch, the Cowboys rushed six with linebacker Alex Albright serving as a down lineman, faking a rush and dropping into coverage. Unfortunately Frank Walker and Barry Church blitzed, leaving Manningham alone for the touchdown.

A lot of Ryan’s three-man rush came in the red zone where he wanted to clog up the passing lanes, like when he dropped nine guys. But on that play Jake Ballard was able to break free for an 18-yard catch to the Dallas 1 to set up the go-ahead touchdown.

If you’re Ryan, do you blitz and expose the secondary or do you play coverage and expose the pass rush?