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Emergence of RB DeMarco Murray has given Cowboys’ offense another weapon

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Updated: November 2, 2012 6:15AM

Linebacker Brian Urlacher wasn’t giving away the game plan as much as he was reiterating a philosophy.

‘‘Well, stop the run is No. 1,’’ Urlacher said of what the Bears have atop their to-do list Monday against the Dallas Cowboys. ‘‘That’s always our No. 1 goal.’’

The Cowboys are counting on that.

In watching game film — even going back to last season — the emergence of running back DeMarco Murray has given the Cowboys a new element on offense. That means an ability to sell a lot more play-action, a play they used five times in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All five plays resulted in completed passes of at least 14 yards.

‘‘For us, it’s dictated off of personnel and
coverage and where guys are,’’ quarterback Tony Romo said of what the Cowboys are looking for offensively each week. ‘‘And that’s how I look at the field. You’re looking at who is lined up where and with what coverage. A lot of different factors, [such as] down-and-distance. That’ll dictate where I go with the ball. As far as forcing the ball to a guy, we don’t do that.’’

What the Cowboys do want to force is over-
commitment by an aggressive defense.

Basically, they line up in a strong I-formation, even having the receivers close to the edges to sell a power running play. On the snap, the offensive line blocks as though the play is a run, with the fullback shooting through the gap, looking for the middle linebacker. Romo sells the action to Murray, who follows the fullback in the hole. Meanwhile, the tight end (Y) holds his block on the strong-side linebacker before releasing into the right flat.

The Z is key in this because he has to read the aggressiveness of the strong safety in biting on the play-action. If the strong safety commits up, the pattern breaks deep. If he stays back, the Z breaks his pattern in front of the safety, opening up the window between the linebackers and the safety.

Because the receivers are lined up so tight to the formation, it also opens up the out pattern if the cornerback is over-committing to the inside.

If Romo sells it the right way, he has crossing
options with the receivers or underneath options with the fullback or tight end.

It starts with Murray giving the Cowboys a few solid runs early in the game, forcing the Bears to take notice of him.

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