JEFF: The Heat Is On
By Jeff Falconio
How good is Dallas's front seven? Scary good. I don't even know where to begin. Well, I guess I could begin with outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and his nine sacks. Then there's the other outside linebacker, Greg Ellis. You could say he's underachieving. After all he only has eight sacks. The Cowboys have registered 30 sacks this season. That's about three per game. Yikes. As you could probably guess, the Cowboys love to blitz and they rush the quarterback at will. Dallas is even better against the run, ranking fourth in the NFL in yards allowed. Double yikes.
Dallas coach Wade Phillips is a defensive mastermind. Prior to Dallas, Phillips was the defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers. It's no surprise that while Phillips was there San Diego had a tenacious defense (which by the way without Phillips doesn't seem so tenacious anymore.) Meanwhile under Phillips the Cowboys have elevated their pass rush in '07. Last week the Cowboys got to Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens three times and forced numerous misfires. "Yeah, but that's the Jets" you might say. Well consider this: the Cowboys sacked New England superman Tom Brady three times as well. As a result of the relentless pass rush the Cowboys also forced Brady to misfire. Brady completed 67% of his passes but that was the second lowest number for him up to that point. If you think Brett Favre will get out of Dallas unscathed, think again.
There's good news though. Dallas's secondary has been an Achilles heel and could very well be the one area that keeps the Cowboys out of the Super Bowl. Washington's Jason Campbell lit up the Cowboys for 348 yards though his 54 pass attempts are more than the conservative Redskins would like. So what will an aggressive offense like Green Bay do? Favre should be able to spread the ball around and we know Mike McCarthy is always looking for the right mismatch. If the pass protection can hold up, this will turn into an old-fashioned Texas shootout.