Dallas Cowboys: Corey Williams

video

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys decision to place the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer for the second straight year makes some sense despite the $10.6 million cost.

PODCAST
Randy Galloway and Matt Mosley discuss the Cowboys putting the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer and releasing Gerald Sensabaugh.

Listen Listen
One of the reasons is that the Cowboys might not have to pay Spencer $10.6 million at all.

Spencer’s agent, Jordan Woy, has a history of working out deals with the Cowboys, having done so with Flozell Adams a few years ago right before free agency started

But think about this option: trading Spencer.

Under the tag rules, a team would owe the Cowboys two first-round picks but they can work out a deal for substantially less.

Trading franchise players is not uncommon. Kansas City traded Jared Allen to Minnesota in 2008 for a first rounder, two third rounders and a swapped sixth round pick. Green Bay traded Corey Williams to Cleveland for a second rounder in 2008.

PODCAST
ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Cowboys cutting Gerald Sensabaugh in a salary cap move.

Listen Listen
New England traded Matt Cassel to Kansas City in 2009 with Mike Vrabel for a second round pick. In 2003, the Patriots traded Tebucky Jones to New Orleans for three picks: third and seventh rounder sin ’03 and a fourth round in 2004.

So what can the Cowboys get for Spencer? He is coming off a career-high 11 sacks and a Pro Bowl appearance. He is durable but he is 29. Teams don’t want to pay age and to get Spencer a long-term deal would have to be worked out for the new club.

Maybe they get a third-round pick in return.

It beats getting nothing - or a possible 2014 compensatory pick - in return, which is what the Cowboys would have received if they just let him walk.

At best the Cowboys get their best defensive player in 2012 on the roster in 2013 and at the worst they get a draft pick or two in return if they were to trade him.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Patriots preview

October, 14, 2011
10/14/11
10:55
AM ET


If you believe in fate and are a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, here is something that maybe you can hang your hat on. The last time defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had a week off to prepare for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, his Cleveland Browns walked away with an impressive 34-14 victory in 2010.

Scout's Eye
Cowboys defense vs. Patriots offense

Ryan's defense has played outstanding through the first four weeks of the season, but the task ahead is different from any of those that you generally face during an NFL season. When you play an elite quarterback such as Tom Brady, the amount of pressure he puts on you is greater than when you face Mark Sanchez, Alex Smith or even Matthew Stafford.

Mistakes in assignments are magnified when you play against Brady because of his ability to read defensive schemes and take advantage of the situation by adjusting his protection and moving his personnel to attack the void. In the NFL, it's all about the matchups, how you create them and then take advantage of the ones in your favor.

The Patriots take advantage of match-ups better than any other team in the league. When you study the Patriots, it's about "scheme fits." It's not only about a player like Wes Welker. You also have to be wary of tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead as well.

The Patriots create match-up problems for a defense because there is so much flexibility where their skill players can line up in the formation. Rarely do you see the Patriots use the same formation early in the game, because this exposes your game plan defensively. Once Brady has an idea of how you are going to defend the offense, then he goes to work.

Patriots WR Wes Welker vs. Cowboys secondary

It's interesting to watch the Patriots on offense because they no longer have a straight vertical threat like Randy Moss. Instead they use Welker, Gronkowski and Hernandez all over the field. Welker is a crafty route-runner, but maybe his greatest strength is his ability to read coverages and react to what the defense is doing to him. When Welker's on the move, you can see his eyes looking at the secondary and plotting where he will take his route.

Brady has a tremendous understanding of where Welker is going to be in his route to deal with the coverage. With the Patriots, you will see several routes down the field that are crossing routes. The Patriots like to take routes through zone coverage, running to open spaces -- which is effective against teams that like to play Cover 2.

Last week, the Jets were able to match Darrelle Revis against Welker, who really struggled to generate any type of separation or space. Revis was physical off the line but, more importantly, he was able to carry Welker all over the field. The Cowboys will get an important piece of their secondary back this week when cornerback Orlando Scandrick returns from a high ankle sprain.

I have always viewed Scandrick as one of the Cowboys' best cover men. To play slot corner, you have to play with a great deal of quickness but, more importantly, you have to have the understanding of what types of routes that the man you are covering might run. Scandrick will have to be prepared to play a ton of snaps, so his conditioning will be tested. In what we have been allowed to see during practices, he looked explosive and confident that the ankle sprain is behind him.

Patriots tight ends are more like WRs

Earlier I mentioned that you have to be wary of Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and there was a reason for this. Neither one of these guys plays like a true tight end. Rather, they're more like 255-pound wide receivers that can get down the field. Both Gronkowski and Hernandez are vertical players that run well, but their most impressive trait is their ability to catch the ball.

The Cowboys have done a nice job against some outstanding tight ends this season, but Gronkowski and Hernandez present a different challenge because you see them down the field in combination routes with the receivers. Brady might look to Welker first, but I've seen him throw to Gronkowski and Hernandez in coverage and still they managed to come up with the ball.

Achilles' heel of Patriots offense: RT Nate Solder

If you are looking for a weakness on the Patriots offense, it is rookie right tackle Nate Solder, who has had to start because Sebastian Vollmar has been dealing with a back injury. Solder looks very similar to what I had seen on college tape before the draft. He's not very strong and, for someone that is a good foot athlete, he struggles with rushers off the edge.

Two weeks ago, the Cowboys didn’t take advantage of the Detroit Lions' poor pass blockers. The Patriots' O-line is much better on both run and pass, but it will struggle at times when teams run games on them with movement in the passing game. If Rob Ryan is going to get pressure on Brady, this will most likely be the route that he tries to go.

Cowboys offense vs. Patriots defense

When you study the Patriots on defense, the one area that jumps out at you is how much space their secondary gives up in routes. I didn't see the tightness in the coverage that I have seen with other defenses that the Cowboys have faced so far this season.

Earlier in the season, the Patriots played a great deal of man coverage but with little success. Now you see them playing much more zone. Another area where the Patriots have struggled is their inability to rush the passer. New England doesn't have that dynamic pressure player coming off the edge. Defensive ends Andre Carter and Shaun Ellis are veterans, but they don’t rush the passer like a Brian Orakpo or Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Patriots' defensive force: Vince Wilfork

The strength of this Patriots defense is up the middle with defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who is one of the more dominate players in this league. For a man his size, Wilfork moves very well. He is not one of those tackles that sits in a spot and just anchors down. He is very active -- not only in his pass rush, but also his ability to play the run right at him or working down the line. Kyle Kosier, Phil Costa and Bill Nagy had to deal with the inside power and the push that the Lions' Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams were able to get. To the credit of the Cowboys' inside three, however, they were able to hold up the majority of the time. Wilfork has power, but he has pass rush technique.

Breaking down the Patriots' defense

On the other side, Albert Haynesworth will see action. But also be aware of second-year player Kyle Love, who is a much lighter and more mobile player. When the Patriots' defensive line tries to get pressure, it’s usually by using twist stunts. They will also use blitzes from the secondary -- twice using a slot blitz vs. the Jets and a straight corner blitz against the Raiders.

Linebackers Jarod Mayo and Brandon Spikes are very active. Both really try to play downhill and attack the ball. They like to give you a tight look with one of the linebackers at the line, drop him, then fire the one from the other side. Where this group had some trouble was when the Jets went with an empty formation and it caused some confusion.

Also watch passing plays on the outside against this defense. The Buffalo Bills were able to work their screen packages but were also able to make plays in the flat with their running backs catching the ball against these linebackers.

Another potential target spot: Patriots safety

Another potential weakness for the Patriots is at safety. Starter Josh Barrett has been banged up, as has Patrick Chung. The Patriots have been trying to make do with Sergio Brown, who tends to misplay the ball in flight and is a poor tackler. James Ihedigbo is a better player when he can react to the ball in front of him. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys can take advantage of this defense.

Scout's Eye: Lions-Cowboys key matchup

October, 1, 2011
10/01/11
8:00
AM ET
Cowboys OG Kyle Kosier vs. Lions DT Ndamukong Suh: I have this listed as a matchup of Kosier against Suh, but it really could become a matchup of Suh against Kosier and center Phil Costa.

Suh can be a dominant player inside. The traits that make him so impressive are his ability to get pressure and push inside with sheer power and strength. When you study Suh, you always see him attacking the blocker with a wide variety of moves. He is relentless in his effort and pursuit. He plays with quickness with his hands and feet. There is explosiveness to his game.

The Cowboys have to be careful if the scheme or the situation requires that Costa has to help Kosier with Suh, and that leaves left guard Bill Nagy one-on-one with Corey Williams or Sammie Hill. When Nagy struggles, it is with bigger players. Both Williams and Hill go 320-plus pounds and can get inside push.

In the running game, look for the Cowboys to try to down- or angle-block Suh, working to his outside. The Vikings had success some success against Suh when they didn’t try to block him straight up in the running game and allowed him to run up the field.

The plan for the Lions will be simple: use their four man line, get push in the middle with Suh and close the edges with Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril, giving Tony Romo no room to operate. The Cowboys could counter by doubling Suh when they can to control, while but making sure Nagy doesn’t have to fight Williams and Hill one-on-one for many snaps.

Cowboys CBs Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson: This matchup appears better for the Cowboys with Newman in the lineup than it would have two weeks ago with Alan Ball potentially making a start. Newman and Jenkins will have an all-day fight on their hands with one of the most physical and dynamic receivers in the game.

What makes Johnson so difficult is his outstanding hands and his ability to use his body to go get the football. He has legitimate speed down the field and can eat up a corner’s cushion quickly. He is the type of player that is on you right now. You feel him when he runs his routes. He attacks the ball whether it’s in the open field or in the red zone.

He has a quarterback in Matthew Stafford that is not afraid to throw it to him on any point in the drive. Johnson is most dangerous when he is able to get separation because he can cover some serious ground when he catches the ball on the move.

Both Jenkins and Newman have the speed to run with Johnson, and I like Jenkins’ more physical style to match up better than Newman when fighting for the ball in the air. Stafford is an accurate quarterback, but Newman and Jenkins need to make those throwing windows as tight as possible and not allow Johnson to take this game over.

Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware vs. Lions OTs Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus: Rob Ryan has done an outstanding job of taking his pressure players and putting them in a situation where they can take advantage of weaker opponents. This week, the Cowboys face an offensive line that has issues.

At tackle, Backus and Cherilus aren’t good enough to block Ware -- or Anthony Spencer, for that matter. I don’t see the Lions being able to run the ball against the Cowboys, but they can make plays in the passing game. The key will be how much pressure Ware and Spencer can get on Stafford.

Look for Ryan to really try to attack the pocket and force this Lions’ offensive line to have to pick up blitzes. Ryan will have to try to get rushers home before the ball gets out of Stafford’s hand. Ware can cause problems over Backus, who can’t bend and adjust, much-like the broken-down version of Marc Colombo we watched all last season. Ware is just too athletic for Backus, and if the Lions do not try and help him, the left tackle could be in for a long day.

If the Lions do help Backus, look for Ryan to continue to move Ware around until he finds the matchup he likes. If not over Backus, then Cherilus is an option, too.

Scout's Eye: Lions-Cowboys preview

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
8:00
AM ET


After gutting out a difficult victory over the Redskins, the Cowboys face a new challenge of a short week to prepare to play one of the league’s most talented teams in the Detroit Lions.

Scout's Eye
The Lions will present problems on both sides of the ball. If you follow the NFL, we all know the names of Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Matthew Stafford, who have helped this team to get off to a fast start. But there is more to it than just those three players.

Detroit defense

The Lions play a true 4-3 front, which will be the first time this season that the Cowboys faced this kind of look. Suh will mainly line up over right guard Kyle Kosier and will work across from Tyron Smith when the Lions go to a three-man line.

There will be times where Suh will move to the right side, but usually that spot is manned by Corey Williams or Sammie Hill. The problem for the Cowboys in that look is that Bill Nagy, who struggles with power players now, has to deal with two players that go 320-plus pounds. Nagy’s primary weakness is his technique against the down linemen that have size and power.

Kosier will have another set of problems in dealing with Suh, who plays with power and quickness. Suh has outstanding technique as a pass rusher with a wide variety of moves. Kosier has had to deal with power players before in his career, but the way that Suh uses swims, slaps and rips makes him hard to handle because he is playing with this technique as he is working his way to the quarterback.

Most teams like to sub their two down players inside, but the Lions keep their big bodies in the game and will push the front of the pocket then squeeze from the outside with Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril.

The last two weeks Doug Free hasn’t played some of his better football. I have talked before that I felt that it was more technique problems than any other area. When Free gets in trouble, it’s when he is playing over the top of his left foot and he gets overextended. When Free gets overextended, his feet stop and rushers are able to get pressure.

In the Redskins game, it looked like Free was worried about Brian Orakpo taking him on the inside rush. This week, Free will line up over Vanden Bosch, who plays in a wide 9 technique and doesn’t quit on a play. He is relentless, run or pass.

Free will need to beware of not finishing his blocks against Vanden Bosch, because there will be times where Vanden Bosch looks like he is out of the play but will fight his way back into the picture. Vanden Bosch likes to fight wide and slap the tackles hands down, then work for the corner. Vanden Bosch, like Suh, is able to do this without slowing down or stopping his rush.

Tony Romo spoke of his receivers having to find a way to win on routes. Guys like Miles Austin and Jason Witten can win, but it is a little tougher is guys like Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree. They will match up against corners Chris Houston and Aaron Berry, who like to play press man and be physical at the line of scrimmage.

The Lions played more man coverage against the Bucs than they did against the Vikings. I believe that they will line up and force these Cowboys receivers to beat them off the line. If Romo has to hold the ball against this Lions defense, it will be a struggle for his line. This group can get four-man pressure and it’s more intense than what they faced against the 49ers and Redskins.

Where the Vikings and Bucs had some success was running receivers down the field on vertical routes when the Lions did play zone. There also were two nice opportunities for tight ends to make plays against Cover 2 working between the safeties down the field.

The game plan for Garrett against the Lions running the football will be similar to what he had against Washington. He will need to take advantage of how aggressive this front seven will be.

The Vikings had success running the ball against the Lions by getting the ball on the edge but using down or angle blocks to handle the power and quickness of the Lions. Look for the Cowboys to try to shield the Lions from the ball more than trying go toe to toe with them. The Vikings were able to make plays on the edge with Adrian Peterson by taking advantage of the way that the Lions chase the ball.

Detroit offense

The challenge for Rob Ryan and his defensive staff in this game will be trying to dial up pressure against Matthew Stafford when he gets in the shotgun. The Lions have had their share of blocking problems, but the answer for those issues has been Stafford’s ability to get rid of the football quickly.

Stafford has major weapons with Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew, and the Lions also have a nice screen package with running back Jahvid Best, who catches the ball well out of the backfield.

Stafford is an impressive quarterback to study because he never looks like he doesn’t know where to go with the ball. He is mobile to a point and can buy time with his ability to move. The trait that is the most impressive about Stafford is his ability to be an accurate passer. Rarely do you see his receivers have to work for the ball. Has touch with the ability to lead his receivers down the field.

Stafford has a real understanding of the strengths of his skill players. Can make all the throws and puts the ball in position that they can go get it.

If there is a knock on Stafford, it has been his ability to stay healthy. When he does not play, the Lions are a very ordinary team on offense even with all the talented players.

If the Cowboys are going to win this game, it won’t be about stopping the run but more how they will be able to limit the number of big plays that the Lions can make. Johnson will make his share of plays because he always does no matter how outstanding the coverage is. Stafford knows that he can throw the ball down the field and Johnson will find a way to go get it. If Johnson gets separation, he is going to make the play.

Last week, Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins played well against the Redskins. They will need a similar effort against Johnson and Nate Burleson.

Safeties Gerald Sensabaugh and Abram Elam will also be a factor in this game, not only because of their responsibilities of helping carry Johnson deep in coverage, but also having to deal with tight end Pettigrew. This is the fourth game where this defense has had to deal with an athletic tight end that can get down the field. Fred Davis and Chris Cooley did not kill the Cowboys last week.

The Cowboys have to be careful is putting so much attention to Johnson and allowing Pettigrew or even Burleson to make plays.

If the Lions have a real weakness, it is with this offensive line. Despite their 3-0 record, the Lions have issues at offensive tackle. Longtime veteran left tackle Jeff Backus is on his last legs as a pass protector and a run blocker. There is nothing that he really does well anymore. It’s not as bad as watching Marc Colombo playing last season, but there are some similar traits that you are now seeing.

At right tackle, Gosder Cherilus was replaced in the Minnesota game by Corey Hilliard because he couldn’t even get out of his stance to handle the edge. Cherlius once again will be in the starting lineup and it is a road game for the Lions, so keep an eye on him to see if he struggles again.

Through the first three weeks of the season, Ryan has done a nice job with his scheme, in finding those offensive players that will struggle against his pressure players. Look for Ryan to continue to move DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer around to attempt to make Stafford uncomfortable in the pocket.

Grudge Match: Lions-Cowboys

November, 20, 2010
11/20/10
8:00
AM ET


A look at the matchups for Sunday's Lions-Cowboys game:

*Cowboys center and guards vs. Lions DTs Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams: There are plenty of matchups across the board in this game, but the one that I am most interested in is the one featuring Leonard Davis, Andre Gurode and Kyle Kosier against Corey Williams and Ndamukong Suh.

This inside three for the Cowboys played a flawless game last week against the Giants, but this is a whole different animal that they will be dealing with Sunday. Both Suh and Williams are powerful players and do a nice job of playing on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage.

Davis usually matches up well against players with power but have limited pass rush moves, but in these two players, quickness and moves are part of their game as well. That usually spells trouble for Davis. Kosier on the other side is a guy that will fight to hold his ground and plays with solid technique but doesn’t have the mass or the upper body strength of Davis. He will have to rely more on trying to play with leverage.

The Cowboys’ scheme cannot allow either of the guards to have to single block these defensive tackles on a consistent basis. Look for Suh and Williams to try to push the front of the pocket so as not to allow Kitna a place to step up because when he had that opportunity last week against the Giants, he was able to make some of his better throws down the field.

*Cowboys receivers vs. Lions CB Alphonso Smith: In going back and reviewing the Giants game last week, I was impressed with the ability of Kitna to get the ball down the field against a secondary that had not given up many big plays. Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Roy Williams were able to find space where many teams had not.

The Lions have a good safety in Louis Delmas but average corners in Alphonso Smith and Chris Houston. Both of the Lions corners are in that 5-foot-9 range and tend to play to their height.

In the games against the Jets and Redskins, Smith was beaten badly on two plays down the field that resulted in touchdowns. Braylon Edwards of the Jets ran by him and Anthony Armstrong of the Redskins did as well.

We have all seen what can happen when you have a player such as Dez Bryant that you can throw the ball down the field and up to make a big play. Jason Garrett spoke of the process of getting your best players on their worst ones to try to take advantage of the situation. In watching Smith, there is no way that the Cowboys will not try and take advantage of the ability of Bryant or Austin to go get the ball once it is in the air over Smith.

*Cowboys cornerbacks vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson: Neither one of these teams runs the ball all that well, so the passing game will be the means that these teams will use to generate offense. While the Lions have had their struggles in the secondary, so have the Cowboys.

Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins were both banged up in the Giants game, with Newman managing to stay in but only in nickel situations. In watching him in practice for a bit Friday, it appears that he will once again have to tough it out and give his team all he can.

The Lions’ best player on offense is wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who leads the team with nine touchdowns this season. Johnson is an impressive player physically with his large frame and, like Miles Austin, will line up all over the formation.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will try to get him the ball from the slot -- which will be Orlando Scandrick’s responsibility -- or from either side of the formation, which will fall to Jenkins or Newman.

In the games I studied, I feel that Johnson will be handicapped by his quarterback Shaun Hill and his ability to get the ball down the field. Hill likes to throw the ball underneath to his backs, tight ends or Johnson inside. This would be a different game if Matthew Stafford was the quarterback because he can make all the throws.

Where the Cowboys in the secondary have to be alert is Hill getting the ball into Johnson’s hands on the move. Johnson has shown the ability to cover some ground, taking a short pass and turning it into something big.

A banged-up secondary did a nice job against the Giants last week playing much more zone coverage than man. Defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni understands that his rush has been struggling but his secondary even more. The Lions do a decent job in protection so watch to see if Pasqualoni once again takes a more conservative approach in coverage.

Scout's Eye: Lions-Cowboys preview

November, 19, 2010
11/19/10
8:00
AM ET


Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams stood in front of his locker Wednesday and took questions from the media on the matchup this week against his former squad, the Detroit Lions. Williams was asked the question about the last time that the Lions won on the road, when he and current Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna were part of the victory some 25 games ago.

Scout's Eye
The Lions are not a bad football team and under Jim Schwartz can be difficult to deal with because of the talent in certain key positions. The biggest problem with the Lions right now is that like the Cowboys, they are playing with a backup quarterback. But Shaun Hill and Jon Kitna are not even in the same league.

Kitna finds a way to work the ball down the field to playmakers, while Hill tends to work the ball underneath to backs, tight ends and receivers. In the games I studied of Hill, I did not see the ball go down the field. Passes were short and between the hashes.

If you look at the Lions numbers for receptions, it’s tight end Brandon Pettigrew and running back Jahvid Best that are having productive seasons. Receiver Calvin Johnson leads the team with nine touchdowns, but you see him working the middle of the field and inside with Hill as the quarterback. The Lions really miss Matthew Stafford and what he brings to this team in his ability to make all the throws.

Would not be the bit surprised to see the Cowboys try to clamp down on routes underneath and in the middle of the field. Until Hill shows the ability to throw it down the field with any success, that is where he is going to go.

The Lions’ offense is having the same problems that the Cowboys are and that is the inability to run the football because the offensive line tends to struggle getting any type of push or securing linebackers at the point of attack.

PODCAST
Official scout of 103.3 FM ESPN Bryan Broaddus joins Ben and Skin to break down the Cowboys-Lions matchup on Sunday.

Listen Listen
I mentioned running back Jahvid Best earlier and came away impressed with what he has tried to do running the ball, but more importantly he has developed into a solid pass catcher. Best will run with power, but you see the quick feet and the ability to change directions. He will bounce the ball to the outside if the hole does not develop inside. Runs with his pads down and will deliver a blow to the defender at the end of a run. Like the way that he tries to finish his runs. Plays with great effort behind an offensive line that is struggling to buy him space.

On the defensive side of the ball, tackle Ndamukong Suh doesn’t look like a rookie. Suh is the anchor to a defense that does a nice job of rushing the passer. The Lions are ranked sixth in the NFL is sacks per attempt and only three sacks behind league leader Green Bay at 28. Suh is quick off the snap and has impressive upper body strength.

Against the Redskins, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham lined Suh up on the outside at end to try to create some scheme confusion for the Redskins. Suh can push the front of the pocket, but there are times where he plays a little high in the running game and will not be a factor in the play.

Corey Williams, who plays next to Suh, is a load inside at 320 pounds. Williams like Suh plays with good initial quickness and push.

A matchup to watch on the outside is defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch against Doug Free. Vanden Bosch is second on the team with four sacks and is a similar player to what Free played against three weeks ago, Aaron Kampman of the Jaguars. Vanden Bosch is one of those high effort and motor types of players. I like him better than Kampman because he plays the run with effectiveness. When you go to his side, you have to watch the way he plays with his hands and is able to disengage off blocks.

How Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier and Andre Gurode work against Suh and Williams will determine how well the Cowboys move the ball, because I feel that Free will be able to handle Vanden Bosch one on one.

In the secondary, the Lions have a solid safety in second-year player Louis Delmas, who does a nice job of playing through the trash and finding the football. Delmas is a physical player against the run but also shows the skill to play in coverage.

On the outside, corners Alphonso Smith and Chris Houston don’t have much height. Both are in the 5-foot-9 range. In the two games I studied, against Washington and the New York Jets, Smith struggled with balls going down the field on him. Braylon Edwards of the Jets and Anthony Armstrong of the Redskins were able to make big plays on him.

In his press conference on Thursday, Jason Garrett was asked about attacking schemes and players on what you see on tape. Garrett said that you try and indentify a weakness and you attack it. If the Cowboys do take a shot down the field, with Miles Austin or Dez Bryant, it will most likely be in the direction of Smith.

Speaking of attacking schemes and players, the Cowboys shouldn’t sleep on the Lions’ Jim Schwartz. I promise that the former Titans defensive coordinator has pored over that game earlier in the season when the Titans and Cowboys met to get some ideas where he might attack. I guarantee that some calls were placed this week between Nashville and Detroit talking thoughts that went into that winning game plan for the Titans.

As mentioned earlier, the Lions haven’t played that poorly this season. Some of their losses have been to the elite teams in the NFL – 35-32 to the Eagles, 28-26 to the Packers, 28-20 to the Giants and 23-20 in overtime to the Jets.

If Stafford was playing quarterback for the Lions, I think this would be a much closer game. But still, there is talent on this roster and Garrett will need the same type of effort and intensity that his team played with against the Giants to come away with a victory.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider