IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – The Bubble. And The Cigar.
The Dallas Cowboys are 1-0 but they beat the Giants in last week’s NFL opener without statistically impressive days from the two guys who are arguably the team’s biggest stars on offense and defense respectively: wide receiver Dez Bryant and defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Dallas visits 1-0 Kansas City this Sunday and the club’s effort to strategize and motivate its way to success puts into play …
The Bubble. And The Cigar.
Dallas’ offense has not traditionally been screen-oriented. Nor is it especially reliant on putting Bryant in motion. But as he expects to face a steady dose of double-teams, the Cowboys may be planning to counter with motion (to put defenders on the move) and with the “bubble screen,’’ a short pass at the line of scrimmage that will allow Bryant to receive the ball without harassment, to follow a blocker upfield, and to use his dominant athletic ability to turn a short throw into a big play.
“I promise you, my time’s coming,” said Bryant, who caught just four passes for 22 yards last week. “When it comes, I’m going to take advantage of it. … It’s got to be smart football. I’ve just got to be patient.’’
Bryant is practicing this week with a mild foot sprain, but it hasn’t seemed to curtail him much in workouts.
“We’ll find ways, like we have done for the last four years, to get the ball in his hands,’’ said tight end Jason Witten, who benefitted from the Giants’ focus on Bryant by catching two TD passes. “I’m sure (we’re) going to find different ways to get the ball in his hands. That’s when he’s most dangerous.’’
Dallas would also like to create “danger’’ on the defensive side of the ball, where future Hall-of-Fame pass-rusher Ware – playing hurt for most of last season – has just 2.5 sacks in his last nine games, including none in the opener. Now healthy, he was certainly impactful against New York; he was credited with six hurries and he opened the game with a clever interception of Eli Manning. But he said he needs to play “faster.’’
“It feels different not having a sack,” said Ware, who is three sacks shy of Harvey Martin’s franchise record of 114. “With me, it’s all about getting even more pressure, getting there a little bit faster. We got there, but me consistently, I’ve got to get there a little bit better.”
Last week, the Cowboys unveiled a wrinkle that featured Ware – customarily positioned at right defensive end, attacking a quarterback’s backside – moving along the line, poking and prodding at any Giants weakness. He therefore found himself working against rookie Justin Pugh. This week, the Chiefs also feature a rookie at right tackle – though it’s Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.
Ware will likely move around again, and if he gets to the quarterback, he’ll remove from his locker the motivational item placed in their by line coach Rod Marinelli.
“Close, but no cigar,’’ Marinelli wrote in a note attached to a stogie, signing it, “Your loving coach.’’
“I’ve got to figure out some way to get him to take that cigar out of my locker,’’ Ware said, smiling.
Keys to a Cowboys win in Kansas City?
DeMarcus Ware must smoke that cigar.
Dez Bryant must pop that bubble.
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