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All would have expected a long afternoon for the Cowboys Defense facing Julio Jones the NFL best receiver right now, but after the dominant performance against the Eagles, few would have expected a similar humiliation by Devonta Freeman. Maximum respect for the player of course, but in his second season, he piled up 291 yds. on 87 attempt (3.3 yds avg), Sunday he put together 141yds on 30 runs (4.7). A Sunday that saw also the FB Patrick DiMarco rise to prominence, playing 36 snaps, a number much higher than those collected in his career dating 2011.
The simple equation of football see the team who blocks and tackles better on the winning column, that works once again with Atlanta who put in a total embarrassment Marinelli’s defense, who has a lack of rotation players up front as the only excuse. 400+ yds conceded and 0 takeaways, are generally a conviction for the Cowboys, under these conditions they have only won only two games out of 22, and one of these saw Tom Landry still on the sideline. Even referring to takeaways, since Garrett is on the helm the record is 1-14, With the only win on week 1 against the Giants.
Now some might say “here’s the usual excuses of injuries, but it happens to all the NFL teams.” Indisputable, but so is also that at full-strength, or almost, because we still have to see Hardy, Rolando McClain and virtually Gregory on the field, this defense silenced completely the running game in Philadelphia. The Defense saw Sunday was a defense short on rotation and inexperienced on the edge, and is right there we have suffered most. Many times the DE’s were sucked inside, abandoning containment, something that Mincey, for example, doesn’t allow very often. Atlanta has figured out where to attack, and did so without hesitation, they toyed with the idea of trying to test the weaknesses of this defense, and they was right. 10 runs by 7+ yds…Devonta Freeman must send some nice presents to this Cowboys Defense on Christmas …
Things did not go better covering Julio Jones, but here we can be more relaxed, Jones will embarrass several NFL defenses, regardless of how and with those who decide to cover him. The Cowboys have tried a bit ‘all, but the Falcons didn’t step back, Ryan passed the ball in his direction 20 times…20 ! I was a bit ‘surprised by the choice, also in man coverage, to leave Jones choose his matchup. I understand that the concepts of Marinelli defense are increasingly similar to those of Seattle, so don’t move the DB’s from their positions, but I think in some cases, exceptions should be made, at least to avoid leaving a WR as Jones with a little CB as Patmon.
The numbers speak for themselves, 68 plays granted to Falcons, 32 runs, 36 pass. 9 of 14 third down converted, 6.3 yds allowed per play, 7.6 per pass. 5 trips to the red zone, 4 TD, 0 takeaways.
Morris Claiborne was tested by Ryan, who threw eight balls on his side. Nice job by Morris, he held up pretty well, except for a ball that could easily intercepted, another one of those moments that could turn the game in favor of Dallas definitively. Bad, if not non-existent the Pass Rush. Discussing with my colleagues, it’s clear the disappointment this season on DeMarcus Lawrence. But I think we need to moderate our disappointment, he’s still a player in his second year, which is going through he’s period of growin’ pains. Right to say, however, that Sunday we would needed a much better performance on both run defense and pass rush from the second year DE. In general Marinelli is continuing to send very little extra pressure, blizzing only in 14% of occasions, even less than last year. I understand the strategy, but sometimes you also have to choose your poison, and perhaps some more try when you cannot get to the QB with only 4, should be done.
Summer expectations, and enthusiasm after the first two regular season games, needs to be temperate in light of Sunday performance. At least until the unit will be reinforced with fresh troops who return by week 5. The reality is that we were beaten on both sides of the field, the trenches had to return to be our strength this year, Sunday was our main weakness. Atlanta beat us by attacking us in our teeth and running over us, surely there are other teams who are taking note of this. This is no time to feel sorry for ourselves, but to piece together and be prepared for the next challenge, because the game with the Saints is vital for the rest of the season. Winning is the only thing that matters, waiting to hear the sound of the cavalry is coming rescuing Marinelli.