Monday, September 29, 2008

The Tom Brady Effect

In the wake of the Dallas Cowboy's 26-24 loss to the Washington Redskins, many weaknesses have come to light. The most notable was clearly the defense. This wasn't completely unexpected, as the D had not been sharp in the first three weeks, but terrible nonetheless. Terrance Newman was dreadful, but he wasn't the only one. However, I do not think the biggest problem with the defense is anyone or anything on the field. Yes, I would like to submit to you that the biggest problem is someone who is missing. That man is Roy Williams. I realize that at the start of training camp, I was on the bandwagon ready to get rid of Williams. But hindsight is 20/20, right? (Also, he is quite the character on Hard Knocks)After this loss, though, it is quite clear just how valuable Roy Williams is to the Dallas Cowboys. Never mind the dreadful play of Terrance Newman, the uncharacteristically bad run defense or the career day for Santana Moss, missing Williams is the cause of such a poor performance.

Call it the Tom Brady Effect: when Brady went down for the season in week one, many (half jokingly) believed that Brady should win the MVP Award, based on how much worse the team will be without him. In truth, there's a lot of sense to that. With Brady--as much as I hate admitting it--the Pats are a Super Bowl contender; without Brady, the Patriots are on the playoff bubble. That is a gigantic swing in performance due to one player. Thus, one could make the argument that Brady is more valuable than anyone one player in the League. A valid argument.

Dallas has this same problem, only on a smaller scale. Roy Williams, as we are finding out, is the glue to this defense. He may have certain deficiencies in pass coverage, but his ability to read the run, blitz the quarterback and just lay out receivers are way too valuable to miss.

--With Williams gone, a safety blitz--successful many times when he's healthy--is basically neutralized. Even the fear that he might blitz is enough to alter an offense's game plan. Something tells me that Jason Campbell isn't as worried when he sees Patrick Watkins blitzing. So without Williams,the opposing team need not worry as much about a safety flying up the gap at the QB. Which brings me to my next point...

--Without Williams, teams can run the ball more effectively. When Roy is lurking in the box before the snap, the offense knows that a run could prove to be somewhat futile. His ability is get to the runner is unmatched. With Patrick Watkins playing, the opposition knows that it will be one less man they will have to run against, as Watkins is more of a pass coverage, less physical safety. However...

--Roy Williams in pass coverage vs. Patrick Watkins in pass coverage yields little difference. This is not a knock on either player, but with Williams gone, the 'Boys are gaining minimal amounts against the pass. Coupled with the loss of talent against the run, it proves how valuable he truly is.

--The big hit effect. Nothing fires up the defense or changes momentum quite like a nasty hit from Roy. That is gone, as well.

--Lastly, the leadership is missing. The secondary is short their leader. Sure, Hamlin is a great player, but Williams is the player the rest of the defensive backs looked to.

The loss of Williams begins an awful domino effect on the defense, and it was very evident in Sunday's loss. Hopefully Dallas can rebound and tighten up the D until he can return. Without some extra hard work and many adjustments, expect the same rotten defense from the Cowboys. Oh, and hope that Williams heals quickly.

Up Next: A breakdown of everything (a big list) that went wrong on the offensive side of the ball during Sunday's loss. From Felix to Marion to Terrell, the offense could be in trouble.


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