Cowboys' Recipe to Earn Trifecta Over Eagles

JohnContributor IJanuary 9, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 08:  Jay Ratliff #90 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after he sacked Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cowboys won 20-16. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The time is here.

No more “Let’s see how they will do in the playoffs.”

No more “That will get ironed out as the season goes on.”

No more “Save it till the postseason.”

It’s playoff time baby. Time to not only end the playoff victory drought, but how ‘bout ending the darn Super Bowl Championship drought?

It’s time to lay it all out on the line. Do or die. Don’t save stuff for next week or else there may not be one.

No time to try things that haven’t worked all year.

We know who these Dallas Cowboys are. That is, a damn good team that can beat anyone.

The quarterback is playing great. The defense is awesome. The special teams is one of our strengths for the first time in years.

We know who we can and can’t trust. 

In the trust category we have: Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Miles Austin, and even Tashard Choice on offense.

Defensively, we can pretty much trust anyone except the inside linebackers when they are in coverage (Keith Brooking and Bradie James, I can still trust you blitzing and tackling running backs).

In the people we can’t trust category I have Roy Williams, Martellus Bennett, and Shaun Suisham. That’s it.

So the recipe is pretty clear this week. DO NOT draw up plays for Williams or Bennett just to get them involved.

Have them block for the running backs—because that’s what they have been doing well all year—but do not throw it to them unless they happen to be open on a check down (but even then I prefer Patrick Crayton, Barber, Jones, or Choice).

Nevertheless, the message is simply that Williams and Bennett have not made enough plays all year to trust them to be a focal part of this offense.

Do not waste plays on these guys.

Get the ball to Austin, Witten, the running backs, heck, even Kevin Ogletree, before you get the ball to Williams or Bennett.

No need for trickery. No reverses, end-arounds, etc. Just use simple play-action passes, especially in the red zone.

The Cowboys were second in the league in yards, but only 14th in points, so the red zone woes need to be fixed—especially because they still can’t trust their kicker. The play-action has worked well in the red zone so don’t go away from it inside the 20.

Feel free to take a deep shot after the run has been established, but still use the play fake and do it around midfield. And don’t let anyone run that "nine" route other than Austin or Ogletree.

Make sure both Barber and Jones get at least 10 touches each, and make sure both get the ball five times a-piece before halftime. To alleviate short-yardage problems, maybe try Choice (but not on the wildcat) on a third and shorts, or get Felix Jones on the edge (see the fourth down play against the Bengals last year).

Defensively, get Sensabaugh on Celek as often as possible, and let James and Brooking spy or simply blitz. Coverage isn’t their strength, so don’t do the Eagles a favor.

Mike Jenkins is the man, and we have to let him run with DeSean one-on-one (but not every play) so Hamlin can help Newman on Maclin and Sensabaugh can cover the tight end.

Front seven—just keep up the intensity and finish plays. Get two hands on McNabb and bring him down. Hit him hard and hit him often. 

DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, and Jay Ratliff are the anchors on this defense. They will win this game, if you let them. Don’t let Eagles take any of them out of the game without making them pay.

If Ratliff is doubled then stunt Ware or Spencer up the gut and have the other clean up when McNabb tries to flush out.

If Ratliff is left alone with the center then have him punish that back-up and squash McNabb.

Last but not least, don’t be stupid. No drive-killing penalties. No silly turnovers where the receiver runs the wrong route. If you don’t know the route by now, you shouldn’t be on the field. And yeah, no fumbles either by anyone, or bad snaps, hand-offs, etc.

There's no time for jitters and idiocy.

Play with intensity, Cowboys. You are at home. Lay the wood early.

In 2007, you let Amani Toomer use his walking cane to get in the end zone on the first drive. That can’t happen again. Be violent, especially in the opening and closing minutes.

Also, do something outstanding. Not one Super Bowl team has ever gone without some crazy play in the postseason. Whether it be a defensive touchdown that we haven’t seen since week 3, or Austin making a tremendous catch and run—I don’t care.

Big plays are a must in the playoffs. They change momentum, and they are the difference between evenly-matched teams. It’s just as important to prevent them as it is to create them.

It’s time to take it another level Dallas. Make us all proud and take care of business tonight. There are no excuses.

Just win the damn game. That’s all you can do right now.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.