Photo courtesy: Khampha Bouaphanh
Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee (50) takes down Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) in the third quarter in NFL football at Cowboys Stadium.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, who said watching last week’s game from the sideline was “torture,” returned to the field Sunday with a large cast covered in bubble wrap and tape on his dislocated left wrist.
Lee finished with three solo tackles and an assist. He said he is adjusting to playing with the cast and still experiencing some pain.
“I thought I tackled poorly in certain situations, from the side,” he said. “Fred Jackson’s a great back, and then I kept sliding down and wasn’t able to wrap up like I usually am. That’s something I’m going to have to maybe change up my game a little bit.”
Lee hopes not to wear the bulky cast too long.
“Right now it’s still in the healing process,” he said. “There’s still broken bones, still torn ligaments, so we still need that cast. But I’d be surprised with the way it’s healing if I need the cast all year. I think the more and more it heals, I think I’ll be able to change up the cast.”
Lee entered the game leading the team in tackles witih 73.
After going 4-4 in their first eight games, the Cowboys begin the second half of the season when they face Buffalo on Sunday. Here is a look at how what the Cowboys need to do to beat the Bills:
Last Sunday, the dimensions of the Cowboys’ offense expanded. After weeks of moving down the field by way of short and intermediate passes, Dallas took a different approach against Seattle. The Cowboys went deep. Quarterback Tony Romo connected with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten on passing plays that covered 30 yards or more. The success the Cowboys experienced attacking the Seahawks downfield was directly related to the protection Romo received. As it did against Seattle, the Cowboys’ offensive line needs to shield Romo from the Bills’ pass rush.
Fred Jackson can run, He can catch. And, yes, he can throw. Jackson has attempted one pass in his career. The result? A 27-yard touchdown. That’s not surprising considering that almost everything Jackson has done this season has been noteworthy. The Arlington Lamar product has accumulated 1,194 yards from scrimmage and scored six touchdowns, developing into one of the NFL’s most dynamic players. He drives the Bills offense and the Cowboys know they need to stop him if they have designs on winning Sunday.
Run, run, run
Not too long ago, few would have objected if the Cowboys willfully abandoned their running game. After all, it seemed to be stuck in neutral. But the emergence of DeMarco Murray has revitalized the Cowboys’ once-sagging ground attack. The rookie has run for 466 yards in Dallas’ last three games and the Cowboys have shown they can move the ball without relying on Romo’s right arm. The Cowboys need to continue to ride Murray, a tailback that has shown he deserves to have the ball in his hands.
Be on red alert in red zone
Buffalo has shown a knack for closing drives once it gets inside its opponent’s 20-yard line. This season, the Bills have reached the red zone 28 times and have scored 18 touchdowns. Only one team, Tennessee, has had a higher rate of success in that compressed area of the field. The Cowboys know the game could hinge on their ability to keep Buffalo out of the end zone once the Bills close in on it.
Cowboys run defense vs. Bills RB Fred Jackson: After leading the league in rush defense through the first six weeks of the season, the Cowboys have done a poor job of playing the run the last two weeks.
In those first six games, the front seven was rock solid in getting off blocks and tackling. Last week against the Seahawks, the linebackers were better, but still the biggest problem was how defensive ends Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman continued to struggle to get off blocks and play with a physical nature at the point of attack. When Spears and Coleman struggle in the running game, there are going to be problems because they set the edge by holding up blockers and allowing the linebackers to make plays.
Jackson presents a new challenge for the Cowboys’ defensive front. When you study Jackson, you see a slasher that is able to make quick, explosive cuts. Jackson has the size to be physical finishing runs and can be dangerous when he takes the ball inside, then quickly bounces it outside. Jackson also shows the ability to run the ball inside with toughness.
The Bills’ offensive staff will line him up all over the formation. There have been several plays where Jackson lined up at wide receiver, caught the ball cleanly, then made the defense have to make a tackle in space. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan also has to be careful if the Bills spread his defense out and run the ball inside out of the shotgun with Jackson. Last week, Barry Church was used as a nickel linebacker and played well in that role, so this could be the answer that Ryan has for when the Bills try to spread out.
The Bills are not a physical offensive line and will struggle with consistent movement up front. If the Bills do have success running the ball, the focus will once again turn to the Cowboys’ defensive ends.
The Buffalo Bills’ offense carved out an interesting identity in the first half of the season.
The Bills are a spread offense that can run the ball with authority. Call it Chan Gailey’s “power spread.” If the Bills can stay reasonably close to their production of the first eight games, they should be in the playoff race going into the final weeks of the season.
The Bills, mired in the bottom eight of the NFL on offense the previous eight years, begin the second half of the season Sunday in Dallas with the 12th-ranked offense in the NFL in terms of yards gained.
The Bills are seventh in rushing, 15th in passing, and — more important — tied for fourth in scoring.
The Bills play out of a spread formation — with four or more players split out as receivers — on 47 percent of their plays, according to News figures. That’s among the most in the league. However, the Bills are the eighth most run-oriented team in the league. They run on 44.5 percent of their plays.
Gailey has done a great job of keeping defenses honest and utilizing running back Fred Jackson, who is an All-Pro candidate.
Dallas native, Fred Jackson, returns home as a Buffalo Bill … will face his favorite childhood team, the Dallas Cowboys (Video)
One spot in the southeast corner of Cowboys Stadium literally will feel like home to Bills running back Fred Jackson this Sunday.
Confused? Don’t be. Our friends at BuffaloBills.com can explain.
|Bills running back Fred Jackson will have homefield advantage when he plays at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. (BuffaloBills.com/)|
You see, right in that area of Jerry’s World is where Jackson’s childhood home once stood (we’re not kidding) — that is until Cowboys owner Jerry Jones tore it down to build his own $1.3 billion home for his team.
The Jackson family home wasn’t the only one swept aside, though. Plenty of other folks suffered the same fate.
This all happened in 2004, when Jones was planning where to build his palatial football palace and happened to settle on the Arlington neighborhood where Jackson grew up. At the time it happened, Jackson was paying his dues playing for the Sioux City Bandits of the National Indoor Football League.
One might think Jackson would be bitter about this. Hardly. He’s pretty excited to return for the critical showdown against the Cowboys, whom he and his family rooted for during his childhood. Right when he walks into the building, he’ll be trying to map out the old neighborhood.
“Definitely during pregame,” Jackson said, “when I’m out there getting loose, trying to figure out, piece it together, you know, ‘This is my friend Jason’s house, would be right here where I am now.’ Things like that, I’m sure, will be going through my head during pregame, and I’ll definitely be looking for stuff like that.”
Don’t get too nostalgic, though, Fred. You have a big game to play.
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HOMER NEWSPAPER: Fred Jackson returns home to Dallas, as a star
IRVING, Texas – Rob Ryan took a break from raving about Buffalo running back Fred Jackson to rip a Texas high school coaching legend.
Actually, Ryan doesn’t even know the name of the coach whom he ripped. He just knows that Jackson was a backup at Arlington Lamar.
“They ought to fire that coach, by the way,” Ryan said.
Informed that the coach in question is retired, Ryan replied: “He’s retired? That’s good. Because this guy’s special.”
We never got around to telling Ryan that Eddy Peach, the longtime Arlington Lamar coach, retired with 309 wins, the most in Class 5A history. Frankly, Ryan wouldn’t have cared. He’s too busy getting ready for a running back that he respects immensely.
Jackson made his way to the NFL via Division III Coe College and an indoor league. He’s become one of the league’s most productive backs, ranking third in rushing yards (803) and second in total yards (1,194) this season.
The kid who wasn’t big enough to start for a loaded Lamar team has grown into a 6-foot-1, 215-pound bruiser.
“He’s really tough. God, this guy is tough, now,” Ryan said. “He takes on all comers. We purposely never showed some of the chip blocks he does on defensive ends because he leaves them on the carpet. He just blasts them, literally leaves them out there and getting carted off. So we have to watch out for that besides his great talent of running the football. …
“He runs the ball like Walter Payton used to where he just looks people up and runs them over. But he’s also got the fleet feet where he can make people miss. He’s a special guy and he’s a special kid, too. I really like this guy, respect him and hopefully we can knock the crap out of him.”
Arlington paved over Fred Jackson’s neighborhood and put up a parking lot.
Photo: Mark Mulville /Buffalo News
Running back Fred Jackson will feel right at home Sunday when he and the Buffalo Bills go to Dallas to face the Cowboys.
That’s because he literally will be playing in his old backyard.
The house in which Jackson grew up was located on what now is one of the parking lots for the massive new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“It will literally be home-field advantage for me,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he and his family lived in the house from the time he was in fourth or fifth grade through his senior year of high school. Jackson then went off to Coe College in Iowa, and his parents moved to a different home in the Dallas area shortly thereafter. The City of Arlington eventually had to arrange for the purchase of about 168 properties to make room for the 140 acres needed for the stadium and surrounding parking lots.
“They were clearing out all that stuff five to six years in advance of the building of the stadium,” Jackson said.
This will be Jackson’s first professional game in Dallas.
“I’m excited,” Jackson said. “I grew up a Cowboys fan. I think it’s every boy’s dream if they live in a place where there’s a professional team, you either want to play for that team or play against them.”
Jackson, of course, is making a hero’s return. He currently is the No. 3 rusher in the NFL, with 803 yards, behind only Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy (825) and Chicago’s Matt Forte (805). Jackson is second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,194 yards, behind only Forte (1,241).
At his current pace, Jackson would break O.J. Simpson’s single-season team record for yards from scrimmage of 2,243, set in 1975.
No one saw such success coming when Jackson was playing for Lamar High School, about 5 miles from the current Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington. He was a late bloomer.
“I went back [to Lamar] a couple years ago, and people didn’t even recognize me,” Jackson said. “I was a minute person in high school. I was 5-8, all of 140 pounds. So to come back 6-1, 220, is completely different.”
Jackson barely played for Lamar, which is a prep football power and had about 4,000 students when he attended. He was the third-string running back entering his senior year. He moved up to second string after the season opener but still managed only about five carries for 40 yards for the season. The first stringer, Tommicus Walker, went on to play for Nebraska. Jackson and his Lamar team did make it to the Cowboys’ old home, Texas Stadium, for the state playoffs his senior year.
Jackson was a big Cowboys fan growing up, and Dallas Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith was his favorite player. But he never attended a Cowboys game as a kid. This will be Jackson’s first trip to the new Cowboys Stadium, built at a cost of $1.1 billion and opened in 2009. Jackson gave his parents his two tickets to the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium, played last January.
Jackson said he has 25 tickets for Sunday’s game, and he knows too many people in the area to try to accommodate more friends at the game.
“Just family — mom, dad, brothers and sisters,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’ll be fun to see a lot of different people. I’m sure I’ll see a lot of them in pregame in the stands hooting and hollering.”
Courtesy: Mark Gaughan | The Buffalo News