The matchup to watch this week in the Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos game is newly appointed starting left tackle Chris Clark against, perhaps the most difficult player to block in football, DeMarcus Ware.
Clark started his first career game in Week 4, replacing the injured all-pro tackle Ryan Clady, and played very well, but he has never faced an opponent like Ware.
At 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, Ware not only has the size and strength to overpower tackles, but also the speed and quickness to get around them. Even though he has been consistently double-teamed throughout his illustrious nine-year career (seven time pro bowler and a NFC defensive player of the year), he has recorded 115 sacks and 32 forced fumbles. He is truly the definition of a game wrecker.
Part of what has made the Broncos’ offense so successful this year has been their ability to protect Peyton Manning with only five down lineman. Thanks to the great offensive line play, the Broncos have only allowed five sacks this season, and Manning has rarely been pressured to throw before he is ready, resulting in 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
However, the Cowboys are a very aggressive, blitz heavy defense that the Broncos are very unfamiliar with. In order for the Broncos to continue to effectively protect Manning, they will have to slide protections to help Clark contain D-Ware, or keep tight ends in to block.
This causes problems all over the field for the Broncos’ offense. For starters, there is no guarantee that double-teaming Ware will successfully keep him away from Manning. Even if it does, the forced double-team creates space and opportunities for the other Cowboys defenders like Sean Lee and George Selvie.
Furthermore, the Broncos ability to spread defenses out with a number of dynamic skill players has made them a menace, but if the Broncos are forced to keep tight ends or running backs in to block and play with only three down-field receivers, they become much manageable for defenses.
The Cowboys have very talented corners in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, who can not only matchup with the Broncos’ receivers, but also make plays on the balls and drastically alter the face of this game.
The Broncos have shown tremendous versatility on offense this year, effectively running plays out of spread shotgun packages, as well as bunch formations with multiple tight ends. If the Broncos can figure out how to stop D-Ware and this aggressive Dallas defense, they will likely blow the Cowboys out and demonstrate, yet again, that they are the most dominant, as well as dynamic, team in the NFL.
Written by John Spina. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @jsspina24