Last week against the Cowboys, the Broncos’ defense was down a handful of starters, including their best player in Von Miller who was traded to the Rams before the deadline. Still, Denver came out and shut down Kellen Moore’s unit to their lowest production of the year by a long shot — season-lows in yardage, points per play, and time of possession.
At one point in the fourth quarter, the Broncos led by 30, and the Cowboys’ offense had only mustered 145 total yards (3.9 yards per play), five first downs, and one third or fourth-down conversion out of 13 tries. The final score was 30-16, and Dallas finished the day with 290 total yards; however, half of the yards and all of the points came on just two drives in the waning minutes of the game in garbage time. It was utter domination by Vic Fangio’s team, and he let the world know it.
“I just felt we had the right stuff to give ourselves a chance. We just have to do it the right way, call it the right way, which I’m in charge of so you know that that’s going to be taken care of,” Fangio said, “and I just felt OK about it. I wanna say good about it. Teams just haven’t played them the right way.”
Fangio is a brash coach; if you remember, earlier in the season, he had quite the message for John Harbaugh and the Ravens. “I thought it was bull—-, but I expected that from them,” the blunt coach said. “In 37 years of pro ball, I’ve never seen anything like that. But it was to be expected, and we expected it.”
Fangio is referencing the final play of a 23-7 Denver home loss, in which Baltimore called a run with three seconds left in the ball game to get over 100 rushing yards for the day while tying the NFL record with 43 consecutive games reaching that mark. So this isn’t anything new for Fangio.
On Monday, Mike McCarthy was amused by the idea of Fangio figuring out the blueprint to stop his offense. “This is a copycat league,” McCarthy said. “I just told the team, so get ready. I hope they do, too. Vic played us very aggressive. That’s good to hear him beating his own drum. Their linebacker depth, their linebackers are 3 yards; the safeties were up. In that case, you make their corners tackle. They played us aggressive. They went for it. I think you want that from the other team.”
In reality, the Cowboys’ offense is a juggernaut. Fangio had a great game plan, and his players executed it to perfection. Still… there is no blueprint to stop this Dallas offense. But, what did Denver do to stifle Dak Prescott?
Well, Fangio didn’t blitz Prescott that often, only six times on 41 total plays, which is undoubtedly a surprising strategy for one of the most blitz-happy defenses in the league. He dropped more into coverage and sent four to rush the passer, mainly showing Cover 1 man behind it. Dak threw an interception with Denver in man, but he dissected their secondary on two drives with Denver in zone coverage.
The Falcons may have luck throwing similar looks at Dak and Kellen Moore. Dean Pees certainly has less to work with than Fangio does, but they run similar schemes. I still wouldn’t expect the Falcons to be able to slow down the high-powered Cowboys for the entire afternoon unless they force a couple of turnovers to get the Cowboys in a situation where they have to pass and become predictable.