- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys invested heavily in their secondary in the offseason by signing Brandon Carr in free agency and trading up to get Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick in the draft.
The idea was to make the Cowboys more aggressive on the outside to help the pass rush, especially with the ability of Carr and Claiborne to play press coverage.
“We do it a lot more than people think,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “We do press a lot. There are some situations where you don’t. I think when you get in longer situations, you’re playing with fire the way the rules are nowadays and getting a penalty. We don’t like to be a heavily penalized team. In fact, we pride ourselves in not being one. We played Philadelphia this season was crazy. That’s not who we are with the penalties.”
In six of the last seven games unofficially the Cowboys have played across the board press coverage more than 10 times just twice. In three of the first four games of the season the Cowboys played across the board press 28 times against the New York Giants, 38 times against Tampa Bay and 26 times against Chicago. Since then they have topped 20 just once and that came in the rematch against the Giants (24).
Injuries have apparently changed the Cowboys’ attack. Against rookie quarterbacks the last three games against Philadelphia’s Nick Foles, Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden and Washington’s Robert Griffin III, the Cowboys have played across the board press coverage 22 times.
They get a second crack at Foles Sunday.
“You have to be smart,” Ryan said. “We do a lot of everything. We can play up, back, off. We believe in being simple but multiple. That’s what we are. You can get down there and press all day and blitz everybody like some teams in the league do. We think it’s our best to mix in pressure, mix in coverages and we think we have more success that way and we have.”