Dallas Cowboys: Brian Cushing

Cowboys need to steal page from Houston

October, 24, 2012

IRVING, Texas – The easy thing for the Cowboys to do now that they know Sean Lee is done for the season is to pout.

Jason Garrett will make sure it does not happen -- or attempt to make sure it doesn’t happen -- but losing Lee is a huge blow for the Cowboys’ defense.

It doesn’t, however, have to be a fatal blow.

Last year, Houston lost Mario Williams to a torn pectoral muscle after just five games. Williams was a major part of the Texans’ defense, but Houston was able to overcome his loss, make the playoffs and even win a postseason game.

This year, the Texans are attempting to win without inside linebacker Brian Cushing, who suffered a season-ending knee injury after five games.

This is how the NFL goes. The New York Giants are trying to win with cornerback Terrell Thomas out for the season and safety Kenny Phillips battling a sprained knee. Washington lost Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the season.

It won’t be easy for the Cowboys. It’s not easy for any team.

In 2005, Ray Lewis played in only six games because of a hamstring injury and Baltimore finished 6-10. In 2002, the Ravens went 7-9 when Lewis was limited to five games with a shoulder injury. In 2009, Pittsburgh had safety Troy Polamalu for only five games and finished 9-7 but missed the playoffs.

Lee is the Cowboys’ Lewis and Polamalu in many ways. He is their most productive defender. He fills the stat sheet like no other player.

The Cowboys, however, have to fight on and not throw a pity party. They need to steal a page from Houston.

Maybe they can ask Wade Phillips how to do it.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Texans preview

August, 28, 2010
After five weeks of practice and preseason games, the Cowboys roster will be trimmed down to 75 players Tuesday, but not before a meeting with another AFC foe in the Houston Texans.

The Texans are a talented football team and are on the verge of becoming one of those teams that you hear the football experts talk about in the mix for a playoff spot in 2010.

With players like Andre Johnson, Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing on the roster, it’s easy to see why they have a shot to realize that opportunity.

Johnson will be an outstanding test for cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman on Saturday night. Johnson is an explosive, down the field player that shows the ability to adjust to the ball well. He can catch the ball in traffic and he is not afraid to take his route anywhere on the field to make a reception. Johnson had 101 receptions in 2009 with nine touchdowns and a 15.5-yard average per catch.

Offensive tackle Doug Free, making the transition to the left side, will draw defensive end Mario Williams, who led the Texans with nine sacks in 2009. Williams has outstanding length and a surge up the field. He was very productive in 2009 with 20 quarterback hits, which led the Texans. Free will need to be quick out of his stance, show patience in his punch and not allow Williams to get the edge on him.

This will be a nice matchup of two athletic players. Watch and see who gets the upper hand here because it could send a message for the rematch in Week 3.

Linebackers Cushing and Ryans were 1–2 in tackles last season for the Texans. Cushing, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009, is playing through the preseason but will miss the first four games of the regular season for having a high amount of the hormone hCg in his system, a banned performance enhancing substance by the NFL. With that suspension, Cushing will miss the regular-season meeting with the Cowboys.

Cushing is a sideline-to-sideline player and is also effective as a blitzer. He has a nice feel for how to beat blocks and get in on the quarterback.

Ryans at middle linebacker will be a strong test for the inside three of Montrae Holland, Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis. Ryans has a nose for the football and is relentless in his effort to get there. In visiting with offensive line coach Hudson Houck, he spoke of the importance of secondary level blocking and the ability of the line to work together to not only secure the down linemen but to get hats on the linebackers.

Ryans is a player that will need to be secured one way or another or the Cowboys will see him make the majority of the tackles.

For the Cowboys to have any success Saturday night with their first offense, watch how effective they are in dealing with Williams, Cushing and Ryans.

*What will you see from the Cowboys on offense and defense on Saturday night? Not as much as you would like scheme-wise.

These two teams will meet again in Week 3 again in Houston, so I believe that will limit what you will see on both sides of the ball.

In visiting with staff members before practice Friday, they have that Week 3 matchup in mind. Starters will get some extensive work in the game, but it will once again be with a vanilla package on both sides of the ball.