NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

Why didn't the Cowboys blitz more?

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
4:50
PM ET
Tim MacMahon is wondering, as many of you are, why Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan didn't call more blitzes in an attempt to rattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in Sunday's game. It's a good question, and one for which Tim doesn't expect an answer until Friday, which is the day on which Ryan deigns to speak to the media and explain himself to the public. All we can know for sure in the meantime is that the defensive game plan Ryan drew up didn't work:
Ryan called only six blitzes on Wilson’s 25 dropbacks. And this came after Wilson went 6-of-18 for 47 yards and was sacked three times against five-plus-man pressure in a Week 1 loss to the Cardinals, according to numbers crunched by ESPN Stats & Information.

It’s not like Wilson burned the Cowboys when they blitzed. He was 3-of-5 for only 21 yards and was sacked once.

Wilson, who had plenty of time in the pocket against the Cowboys’ three- and four-man rushes, completed 12 of 15 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown when Dallas didn’t blitz. He also scrambled three times for 26 yards and was sacked once, in garbage time.

Ryan didn't blitz often last year, and we assumed that was because he didn't trust his cornerbacks to cover. This year's cornerbacks can cover, and cover quite well, so the assumption was that he'd blitz more. He blitzed Eli Manning more in the opener than he did last year, though still not a remarkable amount.

Now, the Cowboys did fall behind very quickly 10-0 on Sunday, and once that happened it was fair to assume the Seahawks would try to pummel them with the run game (which they did, to great success). And so it's possible that the plan was to blitz more but the plan had to be changed to account for the likelihood of more run plays. Regardless, as Tim points out, if DeMarcus Ware isn't going to be able to beat substandard tackles and generate pressure of his own, the Cowboys' pass rush isn't going to be very imposing whether they blitz or not. I'm interested to hear this explained as the week goes along, but in the end I think it gets back to the point I made earlier today. I think the Cowboys were manhandled on the road by a physically tougher team, and I think that got them out of many things they likely planned to do.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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