Dallas scouting report*
L, San Francisco 28 - 17
W, @ Tennessee 26 - 10
W, @ St. Louis 34 - 31
W, New Orleans 38 - 17
*No common opponents...yet
Rush Yards allowed per game: 108.5 ypg (14th)
Pass Yards allowed per game: 271.2 ypg (26th)
Total offense allowed per game: 379.8 ypg (25th)
Points allowed per game: 21.5 ppg (10th)
Key Defensive Personnel
*LB Bruce Carter will not play *DT Henry Melton is questionable
DT - No. 69 Henry Melton...prototype 3-technique...quick upfield...uses his hands well...concern for the interior, unless he can't use quickness to run from blocks...if Texans get a hat on him, he'll struggle.
LB - No. 55 Rolando McClain...was retired as of March 2014...one of the great turnaround stories in the NFL...still a step slower than he was when he came into the league in 2010...smart and tough...wouldn't say he's vulnerable against the run, but he hasn't played a ton of football over the past four years
CB - No. 39 Brandon Carr...most well known of the Cowboys secondary...expect the Cowboys to play a bunch of zone and Carr is solid in zone coverage...
Scheme notes and other thoughts
-- Saints had guys open and holes to run more than it would appear.
-- The Cowboys will blitz. First three times the Saints went back to pass, a linebacker blitzed from five yards deep.
-- Horizontal passing game isn't a great option considering the speed of LB and front.
-- Will play both over and under 4-3 fronts. One gap technique. Want to run to the ball.
-- Outside zone isn't ultra-successful against the Cowboys, but "cut-up" runs are. First time Saints cut a run back behind the front seven, five yards. First outside zone run - zero. They'll overrun the ball, that's why Arian Foster/Alfred Blue could have big days. Especially Foster.
-- Without Bruce Carter, the Cowboys defense will play three relatively inexperienced players at linebacker. Kyle Wilber started against the Rams but got replaced. Anthony Hitchens started against the Rams but not against the Saints. Carter is the playmaker in the group and perhaps one of the smartest, quickest linebackers the Texans will face this season. But, if Hitchens moves into Carter's spot, he could be vulnerable.
Rush Yards per game: 165.0 ypg (1st)
Pass Yards per game: 218.8 ypg (20th)
Total offense per game: 383.8 ypg (8th)
**Points per game: 28.8 ppg (4th)
Key Offensive Personnel
QB - No. 9 Tony Romo...doing more by doing less...still extends plays as he's done for ten years in the league...spreading the wealth and not getting locked on any one receiver...other than the first half v. San Francisco, he's been composed, under control and poised in the pocket...great ball handling quarterback - excellent at faking the run
RB - No. 29 DeMarco Murray...staying healthy which was a major issue coming out of Oklahoma...slick runner between the tackles...brushes off arm tackles...has the ability to bounce runs and still stay downhill...loves the 'G' lead draw from the gun...has fumbling issue...if can't get the running game going, keep an eye on No. 29 in the screen game
WR - No. 88 Dez Bryant...always open because of his pass catching radius...Saints chose to go one-on-one later in the game and Romo found Bryant immediately...emotional trigger for the Cowboys offense...strong and explosive after the catch
LT - No. 77 Tyron Smith...long armed left tackle...tough to win leverage battles against him...not a masher in the run game but excellent feet to get in position to make blocks.
RT No. 68 Doug Free...many feel he's the most vulnerable Cowboys OL...tough and nasty in the run game...feet get heavy in pass protection
Scheme notes and other thoughts
-- Play action is actually my biggest concern with the way the Texans may have to sell out to stop the run. Romo does an amazing job handling the ball and selling run. Furthermore, the OL does an excellent job of selling play action with "low hat" look off the ball. That's one of the first key reads for LB and safeties. If they see low hat, it typically means run. Real good sell.
-- Discipline eyes are needed...can't get caught watching Romo, especially as he's extending the play.
-- Force third and long. Can't tell you how many times the Cowboys had third and four or shorter v. the Saints. Inability of opposing defenses to force third and long kept them on the field for long scoring drives.
-- Murray has great feet and finishes runs. Must wrap him up or you'll see his last name - that's not good.
-- A favorite Murray play - Gun 'G' lead draw - 'draw' timing to give G & TE time to pull around - TE Witten will go in motion to backside then follow RG on the pull. RG will kick DE/DT and Witten will seal the ILB. Murray doesn't need much room. Early in the game, he stayed true to the blocks inside and ran for 13 yards. Later in the second quarter, he took same run, bounced it to the outside and ran for a TD. Must slow him down on this look.
-- When Saints blitzed Romo, he was a bit skittish in the pocket and bailed out badly. Didn't throw picks though but with some selective, aggressive pressure he might gift a few to the Texans.
-- When in press coverage v. Dez Bryant with no help over the top, Romo will dial up the backshoulder throw in a heartbeat to Dez.