The Dolphins are set to face off against the Cowboys at AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas tonight at 8:00pm EST. All eyes will be on the Rookie Dak Prescott.
The Miami Dolphins completely shut down what has been touted as a high-octane Giants offense week one. They are currently ranked #1 against the pass (69 yds), 3rd for points allowed (10) and 4th for total defense (227 yds). They gashed the Giants, 27-10.
The Dolphins expended a lot of resources building up the front 7 of their defense. The starters up front are Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Ndomukong Suh and Earl Mitchell. Behind them is a solid linebacker corp consisting of Koa Misi, Kiko Alonso, and Jelani Jenkins.
The Cowboys have expended most of their resources on offense.
According to Spotrac they are currently devoting 43.8% of the 2016 salary cap to 10 offensive players. Taking in to account the Romo and Smith restructures and Travis Frederick’s new $54 million deal, it will be worse in 2017 because of money sent in to the future. This leaves only 56.2% of the 2016 salary cap to field 43 additional players. Obviously the shortcuts have been taken on defense.
In 2017, including Frederick’s new deal, the offense will eat up 59.28% of the cap on ten offensive players. This will leave 40.72% of the cap to field an additional 43 players. Ouch! Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are both free agents which means the Cowboys need two cornerbacks next year. They don’t come cheap. Zack Martin will be looking for a pay day soon which only adds to the misery.
Rod Marinelli is an outstanding coach, but they have got to give him something to work with. Wasting high draft picks on risky players has left him with his hands tied. The Cowboys best pass rusher, DeMarcus Lawrence, is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. He wont be cheap sports fans. At this rate I find it impossible for them to keep him. Then what? They were already at the bottom of the league for sacks with only 31 in 2015.
Defense Wins Championships!
The Cowboys averaged 29 points per game in 2014 and lost to GB because they couldn’t get to an injured Aaron Rodgers. They have had a top 5 offense for most of Romo’s career. Thus they cant go deep in to the playoffs because they can’t get to the quarterback and force him to make mistakes. They have too much time to make good reads and for receivers to get open.
In week one of the 2016 preseason, the Cowboys defense squandered a 24-7 halftime lead. Poor offensive line play, penalties and dropped passes prevented Jameill Showers from being able to find the endzone. Missed tackles, a lack of pressure on the QB and blown assignments allowed the Rams to score 21 unanswered points.
That is a scary thought sports fans. This is indicative of what we have to look forward to if some of the defensive or offensive line starters get injured. If these guys couldn’t compete against twos and threes, they will be useless as backups.
I didn’t even get started on the offensive line, secondary and linebacker depth. You CAN NOT spend that much money on only 10 players and field a championship caliber team in the salary cap era. Especially when you continue to draft injured or high-risk players in the top 3 rounds. I Digress.
The Cowboys Win IF:
Al Beam: During the preseason it is difficult to predict much because there is no way of knowing how many reps the starters will get. It is primarily for evaluating the twos and threes. Therefore, a lot of it will depend on which group of kids makes the fewest mistakes.
Week one vs the Giants, the Dolphins amassed 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. Their defense is no joke. The Cowboys offensive line will need to do a much better job when it comes to protecting the quarterback and creating running lanes. They are currently ranked 15th rushing (105 yds). They will need to significantly reduce the amount of penalties and protect the rock. The receivers have got to catch the ball on a more consistent basis.
Without the likes of Suh and Mitchell manning the middle of the defense, the Dolphins struggled to stop the run. In fact, they are currently ranked 27th vs the run: ceding 158 rushing yards to the Giants. The Cowboys are going to need to establish the run early and stick to it. This will keep that dominant Dolphins pass rush at bay.
The defense will need to step up! They are currently ranked 28th for points allowed (28), 23rd vs the pass (234 yds), 25th vs the run (139 yds) and 28th in total defense (373 yds). This will not do. The Dolphins have a lot more weapons on offense and more experienced quarterbacks than the Rams. If the Cowboys are going to win this game, they can’t allow the Dolphins to move the chains at will like the Rams did in the second half.
The Dolphins Win If:
Cas: Al won the Toss and chose the Cowboys, therefore I have to game plan for the enemy. Entering week one, there was no tape out on how the Cowboys would use Dak Prescott. The Rams didn’t game plan and ran a vanilla defense. It was a bit of a bend but don’t break concept without a lot of disguised blitzes etc.
The biggest weakness I saw in Prescott was his inability to see the whole field and get through all 5 reads in a reasonable amount of time. He has demonstrated that he can throw an accurate pass with ample time in the pocket. If they give him time he will make big plays. What the Dolphins will need to do is take away the underneath stuff and go after him. If they attack the pocket the way they did vs the Giants, it could get ugly for Dak Prescott.
It is my belief if Prescott is under heavy pressure and doesn’t have all of the underneath stuff he will have problems. It is also my belief he will struggle diagnosing more complex protections. Tony Romo was wearing a headset last week which leads me to believe he was in Dak’s ear throughout the game. I would hope he wasn’t helping him make the line calls. That will cripple him if nothing else. He needs to learn to do that on his own.
If the Dolphins want to shut down the offense they need to make him read and react quickly. You will never know what you have in a quarterback until you see him under heavy pressure. Jameill Showers showed he can handle it: we need to see if Dak can.
The Cowboys defense is ranked at the bottom of the league vs the run and the pass. Miami has a better pass rush than the Cowboys and played much better defense as a whole. The Cowboys only managed one sack last week against an impotent Rams offense, as compared to 4 by the Dolphins against a loaded Giants offense. If the Dolphins bring a balanced attack and avoid turning the ball over, they will win this game.