Watching the Cowboys whip the Eagles tonight, I decided to post a little scouting report. Should I forward this to Brad Childress? After all, he gets involved in my profession and I support him. But this isn't really a scouting report (gasp!), but just some observations for Viking fans to think about.
Here are the things the Cowboys have that could hurt the Vikings.
The Pass Rush
DeMarcus Ware and friend are good at getting to the quarterback, and the Carolina game showed that the Viking coaches are adverse to adjusting the offensive scheme to account for a dominant pass rusher. The Vikings do a pretty good job pass blocking, but it's a concern.
The Big Offensive Line
The Eagle defense is good, but the Dallas linemen were just ripping open holes for Felix Jones (who is the type of speedy runner that can actually hurt the Vikings' generally dominant run defense). I'd feel better if E.J. Henderson were there to plug the hole, but he's not. The Cowboys have a very good, very successful offensive line.
The Passing Game
Romo can scramble and he can throw deep. He's also got a lot of options to throw to. And the Viking secondary is the team's biggest weakness: when the pass rush isn't effective, good quarterbacks exploit the Viking defensive backs. The Vikes will need to have an effective pass rush (which they usually do at home).
The Cowboys have a good kickoff guy, which could hamper Percy Harvin's opportunities to set the team up with good field position. They also have a good punt returner.
There are also some specific things Viking fans can be encouraged about.
At home, while dominating, the Cowboys still seem to commit a lot of procedural penalties, let the play clock wind down, and play sloppy with the football. What happens when they're playing on the road in very loud Thunderdome?
The Vikings don't blitz much.
The Cowboys destroy the blitz with all those quick passes, and they've got a lot of players that can get yards after the catch. The Vikes usually rely on the defensive line to generate pass rush, so there will be linebackers and defensive backs to get in the way of those passes and make the tackles when they're completed.
One of my dad's favorite parts of watching football seeems to be seeing the facial expressions and body gyrations of Wade Phillips (one of my favorite parts of football is when I get a little confused and forget who has the ball, and I'm watching the defense line up thinking it's an offensive formation, and I'm thinking "what on earth are they running here?" before seeing what I thought was the defense snap the ball. It doesn't happen often). The Cowboys are a very, very talented team, with incredible playmakers on all sides of the ball. I'm not so worried we're going to see the Vikings get outcoached next week, though.
The Cowboy Field Goal Kicker
If it's a close game, the Dallas kicking game will be really unpredictable.