Inept Lions are perfect tonic for ailing Cowboy ‘D’

By Andy Targovnik  |   Thursday, December 28, 2006  |  Comments( 3 )

Dallas Cowboys
Got something to say?

Log In above and share your thoughts on this topic with other fans!

Now that my hair has gravitated back to my head after the Philadelphia Eagles dismantled the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas, I now realize that the word "shock" and anything having to do with the NFL, simply do not belong in the same sentence.

It was not so much that Philly beat Dallas, but what was astounding was how easily the Eagles did it.

Even though the offense had a rough game, the sudden breakdown of the Cowboys' defense is the most troublesome part of this Dallas team.

In the last three weeks, the Cowboys have given up an average of 438 net yards per game. It doesn't take any great amount of expertise to know it's hard to win football games like that.

Sometimes an offense will pick up a struggling defense, exactly like the Dallas offense did against the Atlanta Falcons three weeks ago. But in the playoffs, you can't depend on that.

Except for a couple of hiccups, the Dallas 'D' was extremely good the first three quarters of the season. While it may never have been as dominant as the Chicago Bears or the Baltimore Ravens, it was a well-balanced unit.

Were they perfect? Not by a long shot. There were problems at free safety. And although the defensive ends couldn't generate an adequate pass rush, DeMarcus Ware's and Greg Ellis' consistent pressure more than made up for that.

But since Ellis has gone down for the season, the Cowboys have not been able to pressure opposing quarterbacks on a regular basis. In the NFL, that usually spells doom. Give pro passers time, and without exception, they'll find someone open. But get in their face, it not only causes havoc but can hide other defensive weaknesses.

Sure, the Cowboys' last three opponents all have good offenses, but championship-caliber teams don't give up 400 yards a game to anybody.

So here come the Detroit Lions, arguably the NFL's worst team, into Dallas this Sunday with their bags packed and their collective minds on whether they can get home in time to see the Times Square Ball drop.

Although the Lions' offense, led by Jon Kitna, is near the top of the NFL in passing yardage, that's more a function of the team trailing in every game, not necessarily moving the ball downfield with ease.

The more telling numbers are that the Lions have given up the second-most sacks in the NFL (58), and have thrown 20 interceptions.

So the Cowboys' defense must get to Kitna. How will it do that? Perhaps that should be left up to Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells and his staff. But if they don't do it this week, when will they?

Of course, a dominant defensive performance against Detroit might not carry over into the playoffs. After all, the Cowboys will be facing tougher competition.

But maybe they can recoup some of that swagger they showed early in the year. Sometimes confidence is all it takes. You figure against these hapless Lions, it should be easy, but this is the NFL where nothing should stun anyone anymore.
Got something to say?

Log In above and share your thoughts on this topic with other fans! (3)

Article Tools Share!   |  RSS  |  Bleacher Report About Bleacher Report