By Zach Walker
Sunday – November 10 – 7:30 PM
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans
I don’t think anyone wanted to see a game like the one played against the Vikings, playing out like it did. The offense struggling again, and the defense getting run over by the reigning MVP, and the defense making the Vikings, for one game at least, look like the 12th overall pick was wisely spent on Christian Ponder. And the way Ponder can prolong his stay under center is to model his game after Alex Smith, make effective throws, and use his legs to hurt defenses in crucial situations. And that’s how he played against the Cowboys. As for his MVP, AP, he did what he does, tote the rock, lower the boom, and run. Peterson is such a deflating player, in the sense of when you can back the Vikings into a long, seemingly defensive favoring down and distance, Peterson is more than capable of picking up the down, and bringing “down” the defense.
The Cowboys were unbelievably unbalanced on Sunday, only nine runs. That means you limit yourself, obviously in the running game, but in the play-action passing game, because there would be no reason for the defense to believe an offense’s play action game, if there isn’t any threat of a run. The running game was abandoned because of the horrible execution of the lead draw play. I don’t remember how many draw plays were actually ran, but every one of them went backwards. I don’t think fully abandoning the ship was necessary, just put out the fire, and maybe not run that play. Dez Bryant was his normal, 180 proof self on Sunday, passionate, fiery, but this was definitely his low point of the season. The way I view it is, you can’t be the explosive guy, get a foolish unsportsmanlike penalty for taking his helmet off, cost the team 15 yards and a down, and then later on, drop a big catch. It just doesn’t work that way, but later in the game, on the Cowboys’ game-winning drive, Dez’ number was called, and Dez answered with a 34 yard catch-and-run to take them just outside the redzone. But lost among Dez Bryant and the emergence of rookie Terrance Williams, is the excellent play of Cole Beasley, who had 6 catches for 68 yards. Beasley had two catches and 27 yards on the Cowboys final drive, and just uses great moves at the line to wiggle his way open, and has become quite a reliable weapon in Romo’s arsenal.
But if I’m going to talk arsenals, no one’s bag of tricks seems deeper than Drew Brees’ corps. It truly takes everyone working together to even have a chance. If you think the receivers are covered, Jimmy Graham can, and will, destroy you. If you feel comfortable with your coverage of Graham, any one of five receivers can beat you. And if you think all is well on the coverage front, Darren Sproles will slide out of the backfield and gain 20 yards along the sideline. And once the Saints get into the redzone, Sean Payton spreads a defense as far as it can go, and knows his quarterback can find at least one option, or Brees can just run it in. The Saints are just so darn dynamic on offense, but the defense is being helmed by quite the familiar “do”. Rob Ryan took his 3-4 defense down to the Superdome, and the players have seemed to soak it in, like a corn cob in a crawfish boil. And of course, Rob Ryan is going to take this game “personal”, just like he did when the Browns rolled into Arlington, and his defense made Brandon Weeden look good, so pardon me when I don’t fret about Rob Ryan making it “personal”.
The job is on Monte Kiffin to prevent Drew Brees from having a personal best game, against the Cowboys’ “airport” style pass defense. And the key is what you can do to Jimmy Graham, because stopping him really isn’t an option, he’s like one of the bad guys from ‘Space Jam’, and I don’t know if any packed some “special stuff” needed to take on Graham, he’s just too big, and too athletic to stop. He is the tight end version of Calvin Johnson. The Cowboys are going to get DeMarcus Ware back, but might not have Jason Hatcher for the game, and it would just be another jammed gear in the always changing defensive line. But it’s just another “next man up” situation for Rod Marinelli to flex his coaching prowess. Players like Everette Brown, Marvin Austin, Jarius Wynn, and George Selvie have been a, and I think I’m not too brash on this, great rotation and a great unit. This game has the potential to be a 75 point game, between these two offenses.
The Matchup of the Game
Dallas Linebacker Sean Lee vs New Orleans Running Back Darren Sproles: I realize that Jimmy Graham is the main threat, but if you get caught watching one hand, the other will steal your wallet, and that’s essentially what Sproles can do to a defense, if you think a 3rd and 18 is in the bag for the Cowboys defense, Sproles will creep into the flat, then turn and burn up the sidelines for 25 yards.
Four other matchups
DAL S Barry Church vs NO TE Jimmy Graham
DAL TE Jason Witten vs NO S Kenny Vaccaro
DAL CB Brandon Carr vs NO WR Marques Colston
DAL CB Orlando Scandrick vs NO WR Kenny Stills
Prediction: Dallas 28 – New Orleans 24; I feel that Monte Kiffin can make a game plan to put good pressure on Brees, and help the back-end with Graham. And if anyone should know Rob Ryan’s defense, Jason Garrett should. I feel a great game is in the pipeline.