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Thursday, September 29, 2011
Five-star answer: Poor tackling will sting


Five-star question: Will the Cowboys hold Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford under his average of 325.6 yards passing per game?

There is no doubt that this will be the stiffest test for this Cowboys defense, quarterback-wise, in Matthew Stafford.

He has command of his game right now and his receiving weapons include Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Jahvid Best and Nate Burleson. I believe the Cowboys' defense under Rob Ryan will be able to control three of the four players mentioned, but it's going to take a huge effort.

Ryan has done a nice job of mixing his fronts and coverages to not allow opposing quarterbacks to feel comfortable in the pocket. Stafford is a smart quarterback and he will be in a battle with Ryan all day to try and match protections against blitzes.

I see Ryan attacking Stafford and trying to get to him before he can get the ball out. The Cowboys will pressure the pocket, but do it with various looks. Where they have to be careful is in the way they tackle. If the Cowboys tackle poorly there is a good chance that these Lions skill players will have big days and Stafford will get his average.

With Terence Newman back in the lineup and Mike Jenkins playing with more confidence, the only real question will be at nickel and the play of Alan Ball. Until Orlando Scandrick gets back in the role of the slot corner there will continue to be that question. In the end, Ryan will get pressure and the secondary will hold up and Stafford will be held under his average.