Cory’s Corner: Detroit’s defense will surprise Dallas

This is the first season that the Dallas Cowboys are over .500 since 2009, which is why I’m not completely sold on this team.

Just who are these guys? The last three years Dallas has finished 8-8 and the year before that, the Cowboys were 6-10.

DeMarco Murray, who has led the Cowboys in rushing every season since getting drafted in the third round of 2011, has enjoyed a breakout season this year. He’s the reason the Cowboys are here. Murray has scored 24 percent of the Cowboys’ offensive touchdowns and Dallas has leaned on him heavily.

Murray has benefitted from running behind arguably the best offensive line in the league by becoming the first NFL player to rush for 100 yards in eight consecutive games.

But if you keep using something too much, it’s eventually going to break. Murray has the most carries in the league — 80 more than LeSean McCoy who’s in second place. He’s carried the ball 20 times or more in 13 games this year.

Murray hasn’t seen anything comparable to what he will see in a NFC Wild Card playoff game on Sunday. San Francisco has been a shell of its defense last year and Seattle was still trying to find itself when the Cowboys beat the 12th man and the Seahawks in October.

The Lions are only allowing 69 rushing yards a game, and that’s with defensive tackle Nick Fairley only playing eight games this year.

Detroit is going to send an APB on Murray. They will be coached to limit, protect and punish the powerful back.

Which is why this game will come down to Tony Romo. The erratic gunslinger has been muzzled due to the highlight-reel running game. But if the running game is taken away, Romo, with a bad back, cannot be asked to carry this team.

Romo has the benefit of throwing to the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Dez Bryant. But Bryant has been thrown at 135 times but has only caught the ball 65 percent of the time. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown has reeled in 72 percent of his league-high 178 passes and that combined with his versatility is the reason he’s the best wideout in the league.

Romo’s other targets Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams don’t scare anyone. And his trusted confidant Jason Witten has really showed his age. The 32-year-old was thrown at 146 times to lead all tight ends in 2012. This year that number is only 87.

The Cowboys have weapons but they aren’t deep. And that’s why the ferocious front four of the Lions will be a huge problem for Dallas.

If Romo is required to win it, he will likely try to do too much and force a turnover — especially with Ndamukong Suh trying to squash him. Add in the fact that Romo is 1-3 in the playoffs and it doesn’t look good for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys are a pickup truck with a new wax job. They’re a 12-4 team that still has 8-8 rust spots.

Detroit’s tough defense is perfect for the playoffs and Romo is about to find out what Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan already know.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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32 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: Detroit’s defense will surprise Dallas

  1. They gave up 152 on the ground to Green Bay 6 days ago. Using season average stats after the season is the wrong tool for the job.

    1. The Lions run defense will be better this week than last week simply because the game is indoors on a surface their used to playing on.

      1. Yeah, I noticed that. I think they all watched “The Longest Yard” starring Burt Reynolds the night before the game and picked up a few pointers on getting an extra jab in after the play. Suh reminded me of that bald white guy in the movie. The Indian(Shatner) who broke that tall guys nose on purpose than finally apologized like he was this gentle little kid. lol Here’s how Suh got out of his suspension.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84VVZEw9vBs

  2. Cory – while you are correct that Romo can’t carry the team, it’s also true that Detroit’s QB is 0-16 or 0-17 against winning teams on the road. That doesn’t bode well for Detroit either. Having said that, Dallas is here because of their OL and the Lions will be focused on stopping Murray, especially after having been stung badly by the Packers run game last week. Anything can happen. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Of all the QB’s playing this weekend who didn’t have “Great Regular Seasons”, Stafford is the most likely to have a “Great” game. Playing on a fast surface indoors with Johnson, Tate, and Bush, Stafford has all the playmakers he needs to beat a very suspect Dallas Defense.

      1. Nick – some good points. I agree that you can’t rule out Detroit for this game. It may just be a battle of who self-destructs the most. Romo who has choked in the past or the Lions with their stupid penalties. Thanks, Since ’61

      2. But he hasn’t done it since week 1 against the Giants. Why would it start now? That would be like us hoping that Brad Jones all of a sudden becomes a good ILB!

        It may be time to say that Staff just isn’t a good NFL QB.

        1. “It may be time to say that Staff just isn’t a good NFL QB.”

          Only the last few in denial haven’t said it already.

          1. Sure Nick. And Dallas’ D is right up there with the Colts as the worst D left in the playoffs. BUT Stafford has looked BAD against some BAD defenses this year. The Bears come to mind…. If Staff can do ANYTHING today, the Cowpokes might be going down. But I don’t think he can.

  3. Tony Homo will self destruct as usual. Dallas will probably lead the entire way and then Homo will throw a pick 6 and Detroit wins… Donkey Kong Suh will stomp on Murray’s injured wrist and pull an UFC move and snap it off. Goodell steps in and gives Suh a stern talkin to and fines him $10.00 and then suspends him for the National Anthem of the next playoff game. Then Obama steps in and says, “If I had a son he would look like Donkey Kong Suh”, and it is Unpatriotic to suspend him for the whole National Anthem and uses executive order to allow him to participate in the National Anthem but he has to use his left hand.

      1. I like to cut junior high kids slack, but someone’s gotta call them on the stuff that’s beyond the pale. Good for you, Bearmeat.

        Romo’s from Burlington. I think he was a Packer fan before he got to the nfl. He can’t be all bad.

  4. 2014 regular season QB Rating;

    Tony Romo: 113.2
    Aaron Rdogers: 112.2
    That’s amazing – I didn’t realize it until I stumbled across it. I have watched the Cowboys play this year a few times and from I have seen Detroit is in for a long, long day.

    1. I’m not one to embrace stats due to there ease to mislead, but using this one to prompt any belief that Romo is in the same park as Rodgers,should have one getting fitted for a cement hat instead of shoes. 🙂

      1. Ah, this year he is Taryn. He just is. You got to give a guy his due when he has a great season and Tony Romo has. Hopefully he reverts back to playing like Brett Favre in the playoffs. I have a feeling he will.

        1. No. He’s not. Dallas’ entire offense is based off of Murray and the play action. Romo has played well – as the product of the system and not the initiator. That OL and Murray make their engine go.

          1. I am just going by the stats. You could also say the same thing for Rodgers that Lacy and the offensive line make the Packers engine go. Statistically he’s had a great year just like Rodgers. Just giving a guy his due. I don’t particular like the guy like any other Packers fan but the lad had a damn good year statistically speaking like Rodgers. How he gets the stats is irrelevant and nobody will remember how he got them in three years from now. It’s all about the numbers with the quarterback.

            Hows this Bearmeat. Tony Romo had a 1989 Don Majkowski 2nd to Joe Montana in the MVP voting type year. Would this be ok with you and Taryn?

            1. Well – Romo is closer to ARod and Montana ability wise than the majik man was for sure. And you are right that Romo’s stats have been really good.

              However, I live in Oklahoma and get stuck watching a lot of Cowboys games. Romo has been an above average to good QB this year. But teams aren’t game-planning to stop him and Dez. They’re stopping Murray and Romo and the playaction game are benefiting.

              We all know who teams gameplan to stop when they play GB. Eddie’s great. The OL is great. But it’s ARod and Jordy/Cobb that teams are most afraid of.

              1. Oh Bearmeant, you are underestimating the majik man. Had he not suffered that torn rotator cuff care of Freddie Joe Nunn against Phoenix he could have been a great one. His arm strength was that of Matt Flynn’s after the injury.
                He reminded me a lot of John Elway with the Joe Namath cockiness in that magical non playoff 1989 10-6 season. My favorite season of all time believe it or not because it was my first taste of double digit wins in my lifetime at that time.

                Ted

              2. lol. Majik was full of moxie but he was always more Doug Flutie than John Elway. methinks your green and gold glasses are impeding your objectivity. 🙂

              3. Flutie? That’s in insult!! Take that back Bearmeant or I’ll call up Majik and he’ll personally kick your ass!! lol
                It’s too bad Flutie wasn’t starting out as a rookie this year. He’d probably be in the hall of fame because Russell Wilson opened the door for all short qb’s again. Flutie got absolutely screwed by every team he played for because of his size. Ditka was well… a dick to Flutie. Hated the Ditka.

  5. Great points Cory. I do think Detroit’s D gives Dallas’ bread and butter running game problems. But I’m not sure Detroit can do anything on the other side of the ball – even against Dallas’ porous D. So I’d bet Dallas wins a war of attrition on one side, 21-13.

    That said, there are 3 real contenders to win the Lombardi right now: Seattle, GB and New England (in that order).

  6. I agree with this Cory. Anything can happen as Dallas has a history of effin up in the biggest of games especially Romo. Should be a smashing game no matter what. Somethings gotta give and I hope it’s Dallas losing. Either way though GB can beat anyone at home this season.

  7. Interesting points you make. What is the record of the Lions QB against winning teams? Has Detroit played a team like Dallas with an offensive line that can dominant a game? How did Stafford fair against the Packers D? Is Tate the guy that can be a number one if Megatron is taken away? See we can do this all day. What it comes down to is who will make the least amount of mistakes! You act like it’s all said and done, like Dallas should not even show up to play! Reality is this. Can the strength of the Lions beat the strength of the Cowboys. Can Dallas put up points like they have done all year. Can Dallas’ D reel in the Lions play makers? Can Detroit score? That is what’s true. And to say no one is afraid of Beasley or Williams is a joke! I’m sure in the film room guys said “well hell if we cover Dez and Witten we don’t need to worry about the other two”! Would like to ask the Lions defenders about that one! See as most writers you probably never played the game. That’s okay you don’t need to play a game to write about it. But if you think for one minute that Dallas is just going to rollover, or that the Lions D is going to surprise anyone then maybe you should not be writing about this game at all!

  8. Did anyone play fewer playoff teams in 2014 than Dallas? They did go 2-1 against playoff teams, including a late-season smashing of one-dimensional and run-stopping-challenged Indy and a win on the road against Seattle (the last game was a loss at home to Arizona). While that 12-4 record looks impressive, I don’t know how much credit to give them.

    Still, this is a team that is 6-2 over the last half of the season and averaging 33 points per game over that span (giving up almost 22). The last credible defense they faced was Arizona (at home, I might add) and they lost. Detroit may get Nick Fairley back this week, which will make a strong front 7 even better. If Detroit can stop the run without having to pull up their safeties, they’ll win.

  9. “But Bryant has been thrown at 135 times but has only caught the ball 65 percent of the time.” So what? Jordy Nelson caught 64.9% of targeted passes (98/151 for a 15.5 average). Bryant’s average is 15.0 yards per catch.

    “Murray has scored 24 percent of the Cowboys’ offensive touchdowns and Dallas has leaned on him heavily.” Lacy has scored 26% of the Packers’ offensive touchdowns. I grant that Murray has a whopping 392 carries, plus 57 receptions, and thus averages 28 touches per game, while Lacy has 246 carries and 42 receptions, and thus averages 18 touches. I haven’t watched Dallas so I am not sure whether Murray is slowing down due to overuse. His last 4 games were 141, 79, 58 (but this was a blow out w Dallas up 28-0 at half) and 100 yards. Murray has fumbled 5 times.

    I agree with the premise. Detroit will slow down Murray and Romo to Bryant and Witten won’t produce a lot of points. I just don’t know whether Detroit can score enough. I would take Detroit and 6.5 points, and Detroit straight up.

  10. Seems like a pretty one-sided article, if you ask me. While some of your arguments do carry weight, there is a very obvious flip side to almost every one of them.

    Dallas can’t trust Romo? Heck, I’d take Romo any day over Stafford. I’m not saying that Romo is great and I’m not saying that Stafford is terrible, but Romo is severely underrated and Stafford is severely overrated. Romo is a legit MVP candidate, even if he isn’t going to win it. Maybe Romo is 1-3 in playoff games, but when has Stafford ever won ANYTHING? He’s 0-16 on the road against teams with winning records. He’s NEVER won a playoff game. As a QB I don’t like Stafford at all. He’s waaaaay to Cutler-ish for me. He can pile up big stats, but the bottom line is he just doesn’t win.

    So Romo benefits from throwing to Dez? Yeah…. so? And Stafford doesn’t benefit from CJ?

    So Romo benefits from Murray? And this is a bad thing?? Should we prefer the Lions because they’re lining up with Joique Bell?? Dallas is second in the league in total rushing yards, and third in yards per carry. Detroit is 28th and 29th.

    So Murray has benefited from running behind one of the best O-lines in football… and this too is a bad thing?? Maybe a dominate Dallas line can somehow manage to tame “the ferocious front four” of the mighty Leos? And you are predicting that Murry’s workload will suddenly overtake and crush him… tomorrow, at exactly 4:40 p.m. Eastern Time?

    So this is the first time that the Cowboys have been over 500 since 2009, and that’s why you are not completely sold on them? My goodness! Since 2009, Dallas is 40-39. Detroit is 29-50. Advantage Lions??? The Lions were over 500 only one time in the past 13 years!! Their previous two seasons were 7-9 and 4-12.

    And I think you will have a very hard time proving your point that Dallas, who beat the #1 ranked Seattle defense AT Seattle “hasn’t seen anything comparable to” Detroit.

    I don’t really get it….

    Sure, Detroit can pull an upset. But the smart money’s gotta be on Dallas.

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