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Dallas Cowboys scouting report: Dissecting the Detroit Lions offense The 1-2 Dallas Cowboys will meet up with the 1-2 Detroit Lions this Sunday in Arlington as the Cowboys will try and get back to .500 on the young season. Today we will take a look at the All-22 tape Dallas Cowboys T-Shirt , to see how the Cowboys defense should defend the Matthew Stafford led offense.The Lions finally have a rushing attack... kindaFor years, all the weight has been on Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, or the Lions defense’s shoulders. While that is still somewhat the case (minus Johnson), the Lions finally have a running back on their roster that can scare opposing defenses. The Lions drafted that player in the second round of the 2018 draft out of Auburn. If you aren’t familiar with Kerryon Johnson, do yourself a favor and become so, he will be one of the young rising stars as this season progresses. Johnson is a bigger back at 6-foot, 215-lbs, and shows off his impressive size and explosiveness in between the tackles, as well as when he bounces it outside. Johnson is an excellent runner that possesses great vision, balance through contact, and can do damage as a pass catcher as well out of the backfield. The Cowboys faced Saquon Barkley in week two, and struggled bringing him down on first contact, they may have similar issues on Sunday dealing with Kerryon Johnson if they don’t rally to the football, and tackle with the right technique. Play 1 - Kerryon Johnson showing off his vision, shiftiness, and balance through contactJim Bob Cooter will get creativeFor years, Detroit Lions fans have complained about their play-caller in a similar way that Cowboys Nation has about Scott Linehan. This season, Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter has shown a few more wrinkles than most Lions fans are used to seeing. With Cooter as the coordinator you’ll see the Lions work a heavy play-action offense, with a lot of bunch formations, and receivers in motion. Play 1 - Lions offense tries the fleaflicker against the PatriotsHere you’ll see the Lions motion the receiver at the top of the screen, hand the ball off to Blount for an ol’ fashioned fleaflicker. The play resulted in an incompletion Dallas Cowboys Hats , and the Patriots played this perfectly, but it has been relatively common to see a trick play or two by the Lions offense in these first three weeks.Lions running backs can and will catch the footballThrough three weeks, Theo Riddick has more receptions than any receiver on the Cowboys roster, and it’s really not even all that close. The Lions running backs (Johnson, Riddick, and Blount) have combined for 30 receptions, for 164 yards. You will see a lot of Riddick in the two-minute drill, and on obvious passing situations, and he can be a real problem for the Cowboys defense. Play 1 - Great route from Riddick leads to huge 1st downWhen Stafford see’s his receiving back lined up in man coverage, he almost always goes to him, and why wouldn’t he when Riddick can run a crisp route, create some separation, and gain almost 15 yards after the catch. Riddick is a real dangerous player for the Lions, it’ll be interesting to see how the Cowboys defend him. Maybe this is a role for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch? Or maybe the Cowboys will matchup him up as if he’s a receiver and use a cornerback or a safety, that is the route I would go, especially on third downs. The Lions will play-action you to deathWhen you turn on the Lions tape, you’ll notice how much play-action they use throughout the game. For most teams, they will use the running game to set up play-action, but for the Lions, they use play-action to set up the running game. Three of Matthew Stafford’s six touchdowns have come off of play-action, and almost anytime the Lion get across the 50 yard line, the first play on that side of the field is play-action. The Cowboys cornerbacks Dallas Cowboys Hoodie , linebackers, and safeties will have to play with a great discipline and not get caught biting downhill.Play 1 - Play-action gets Kenny Golladay WIDE openTalk about fooling a defense. Eight of the 11 defensive players for the 49ers come running down hill to defend the run on this play-action. Not only does the quarterback, running back, and offensive line do a great job here, but notice the run-block fake that Kenny Golladay gives the cornerback to sell that the play is going to be a run play. The only thing left after that, is making sure he stays on his feet and gets behind the secondary and stays in bounds for six points.Play 2 - Play-action can still be effective, even when you don’t make the defense look sillyHere’s a little bit different view of a play-action touchdown from Matthew Stafford to Marvin Jones. The Patriots do a really nice job of defending the play-fake here, the only issue is, Marvin Jones is just too good of WR to leave in 1-on-1 coverage, when you give Matthew Stafford this much time. Jones does an excellent job of sticking his foot in the ground, giving a brief eye/head fake to the outside, before breaking back in towards the pylon. The burst that Marvin Jones shows out of his cut here is very impressive. Like Theo Riddick, Marvin Jones is going to be a very tough matchup on Sunday for the Cowboys’ cornerbacks. There aren’t many receivers in the league that possess his size, athleticism, and ability to make plays vertically down the field with the amount of consistency Jones does.Cowboys DL will have chance for sacksThe Detroit Lions have a very solid offensive line. They do a nice job of pass blocking, and have been doing great as a unit opening up running lanes for Johnson and Blount. With that being said, DeMarcus Lawrence still can have a big day lining up across from Rick Wagner. Wagner struggles playing with good technique consistently, and doesn't have the athletic ability to keep up with DeMarcus Lawrence’s strength and speed. On the interior of their OL, Frank Ragnow is a first-round pick out of Arkansas who is starting at left guard. I was big fan of Ragnow coming out of Arkansas, but he has had a similar start to his rookie season as Cowboys left guard, Connor Williams. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they are pretty beat up on the interior with Datone Jones on IR Youth Customized Dallas Cowboys Jerseys , Antwaun Woods questionable, and Maliek Collins OUT with a sprained MCL.Play 1 - Wagner, Ragnow get beat for meeting at the QBIt’s always a win for the defense when three guys are touching the quarterback at the time of the sack. Both Ragnow and Wagner get beat extremely badly to give up the sack. Wagner gets caught over-extending and with too much weight on his inside foot to recover, while Ragnow gets knocked off balance off the snap and is never able to recover due to poor positioning and lack of strength. It would be wise for the Cowboys to allow Lawrence to work his magic against Wagner 1-on-1, but send a variety of looks at rookie guard Frank Ragnow. Look for blitz, twists, and other exotic packages to be thrown at the rookie lineman for the Lions early and often.Stafford should throw you one, or two throughout the gameMatthew Stafford has struggled taking care of the ball so far this season. Through three weeks, Stafford has thrown five interceptions and most of those came from Stafford struggling to read the defense. The Cowboys have yet to show a lot of zone coverage looks on defense, but this may be the week to do so with Stafford’s struggles seeing the whole field.Play 1 - Stafford throws right into the zone coverage for an easy interception Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Kenny Golladay are going to be tough to defend on Sunday, the Cowboys can help their chances be mixing up their coverages showing both zone, press-zone, man, and press-man looks throughout the game. Stafford has a cannon for an arm and sometimes trusts his arm more than he trusts his eyes. Giving Stafford multiple looks on defense will force him to be more careful before taking shots which will allow your pass rush to get home, or force him to get the ball out before he would like. Both of those things, are positive for a Cowboys defense that has yet to record and interception in 2018.The Cowboys defense is looking to bounce back on Sunday after having a few miscommunication and coverage breakdowns against the Seahawks last weekend. In order to win this football game, the Cowboys defense is going to have to hold the Lions offense under 20 points. If they do the Cowboys should win, if the don’t the team will likely fall to 1-3 heading into week five. Every week many of you here at BTB are polled on various things concerning the team and matters across the NFL. This is part of SB Nation’s new FanPulse tool. Sign up for the Cowboys FanPulse here to take our weekly surveys.One of the things each fan base is asked every week has to do with their upcoming game and the confidence surrounding it, from a point-spread perspective. Fans are asked how many points they expect their team to win or lose by. It’s interesting to see which fan bases have the best grip on their team so far this season.Cowboys fans are feeling confident for the final game before the byeFanPulse taught us this week that Cowboys fans are back, sort of. This particular fan base experienced the fourth-largest jump in confidence across all SB Nation sites and after a 40-7 win how could you expect the needle not to move a bit?This game is big for the 2018 Cowboys’ cause. First place in the NFC East is up for grabs. A win would also give them their first on the road www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com , their first winning streak on the season, and it would set them up for a nice bye weekthat’ll feature a Redskins/Giants game and the Eagles playing the Jaguars in London.All of that confidence, hope, and eyeing down the road had seemingly created a gazpacho of belief that the Cowboys will get things done this week. Although to be fair this group has sort of struggled at accurately predicting games this season.Cowboys FanPulse predictions this season:Week 1: FanPulse predicts Cowboys win by 6 (Panthers), Cowboys lose by 8Week 2: FanPulse predicts Cowboys win by 4 (Giants), Cowboys win by 7Week 3: FanPulse predicts Cowboys win by 6 (Seahawks), Cowboys lose by 11Week 4: FanPulse predicts Cowboys lose by 1 (Lions), Cowboys win by 2Week 5: FanPulse predicts Cowboys win by 4 (Texans), Cowboys lose by 3Week 6: FanPulse predicts Cowboys lose by 5 (Jaguars), Cowboys win by 33Cowboys FanPulse season record: 1-5Redskins fans have a weird sense of not really confidenceThe general feeling across the NFL this season is that save for a handful of top and bottom teams the whole league is wildly unpredictable. In the same way that the Cowboys have an embarrassing loss to the Texans, Washington lost to the Colts. It’s a week to week league.Those that have made the mistake in life of supporting the D.C. football franchise correctly anticipated beating the Cardinals (shocker there) and even the Panthers last week. Plenty of football fans were indeed shocked to see Carolina fall to the Redskins, but again things are unpredictable.You’d imagine that due to them coming off of a win, and considering that the fan base has predicted a win in four of their five games, that Redskins truthers would feel confident in the state of their team... but they don’t. Washington is one of the only teams coming off of a win to have actually regressed in confidence despite winning last week. It’s weird.Redskins FanPulse predictions this season:Week 1: FanPulse predicts Redskins win by 6 (Cardinals), Redskins win by 18Week 2: FanPulse predicts Redskins win by 9 (Colts), Redskins lose by 12Week 3: FanPulse predicts Redskins lose by 5 (Packers), Redskins win by 14Week 4: BYEWeek 5: FanPulse predicts Redskins win by 4 (Saints), Redskins lose by 24Week 6: FanPulse predicts Redskins win by 2 (Panthers), Redskins win by 6Redskins FanPulse season record: 2-3Both Cowboys and Redskins fans are predicting wins this SundayBarring a tie (there have certainly been more than enough this season) someone is going to walk away unhappy this Sunday at FedEx Field. Obviously we’re hoping it’s the Redskins, but everyone involved believes it’ll be the other team.Cowboys fans are predicting a win by 3Redskins fans are predicting a win by 6This is interesting to consider when you start looking at various odds given to this game. Oddsshark has the Redskins favored by two at the time of this writing, almost halfway between where the two fan bases lie. Who will be right? Who will be wrong? Considering Dallas has won every game played between the two teams over the last two years there are certainly a different sort of odds that lie in their favor. Let’s hope those win out.
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