After being lit up through the air by the Chargers and Broncos the past two weeks, the Cowboys now must bone up to stop run in Sunday's game against the Redskins.
Doing that is two-fold because that means they have to be ready for quarterback Robert Griffin III and the zone read as well as conventional runs from running back Alfred Morris.
Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys spent extra time this off season preparing for the zone read. IN addition to Griffin burning them with it last year, the Cowboys will face several other teams who use the zone read this season, including the Eagles and the Raiders.
They will need to be better against the Redskins than they were against 17-16 loss to the Chiefs in Week 2 when quarterback Alex Smith gashed the Cowboys for 57 yards on eight carries.
"Like most teams in the NFL we worked on it because teams are using this and it was an effective tool for a few of the offenses and you’ve just got to make sure you have good answers for it," Garrett said. "Teams do it a lot of different ways and you have to make sure you address that with your team and you’re gap sound and you have a plan for what they’re doing. One of the real challenges that teams like the Redskins and some of the others that are using it is they were doing it all the time, if they were only a read-option team, you could really hunker down and play it. One of the real strengths of what they do is they do that, but they also do a lot of other things you have to get yourself ready for. So that’s a challenge to your defense and that’s one of the reasons they’ve been pretty effective on offense."
Being effective according to Garrett is stopping Griffin and Morris, not one or the other. Griffin has run as much this year as he did last year because he has been wearing a brace after off season knee surgery. But he hasn't gotten stronger and better each week and could be ready to break out against the Cowboys, especially with the Redskins coming off a bye week.
"You might want to say they’re equally important," Garrett said. "You have to stop the run, you have to contain the quarterback, that’s what you say pretty much every week on defense. You can’t let teams run the ball on you and certainly you can’t let the quarterback impact the game and you want to affect him as much as you can both with what you do rushing the passer and what you’re doing on the back end. So those two things pretty much week in and week out are things you’re trying to do to stop opposing offenses."