Playbook mailbag: Why are the Cowboys struggling?

Cowboy fans had huge expectations coming into this year. A second year with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin at wide receiver, another year with DeMarcus Ware rushing the passer, and their first go-round with renowned defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. But after two consecutive, heartbreaking losses, first to the Cardinals and last week to the Giants, the mood in Dallas is shifting. Fans are wondering: What’s wrong with the Cowboys?

Playbook: Cardinals blitz stymies Smith

While Alex Smith owns one of the league’s top quarterback ratings versus the blitz (behind only Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady with a 114.1), the Cardinals found a way to pressure the 49ers quarterback in their 21-19 win on Sunday.

Tale of the Tape: Romo, Manning prepare for heavy pressure

Watching tape in preparation for the Giants this weekend, Rob Ryan has to be licking his lips or plucking his gray beard; however excitement manifests with the Cowboys defensive coordinator, he must have shown plenty of it after seeing New York’s situation at offensive tackle.

Playbook mailbag: Newton or Dalton for ROY?

When Cam Newton was taken No. 1 overall in April, all eyes were focused on him. Analysts wanted to know whether he was just a one-year wonder at Auburn, a product of a spread system, an athlete with only a slight grasp of the passing game. Throughout the 2011 season, with every “Superman” celebration, after 26 touchdowns, he has proven those questions to be mute.

Week 14 ‘Playbook’ picks: Pack will remain perfect

“Playbook” analysts Solomon Wilcots, Joe Theismann and Brian Baldinger make their picks for Week 14.

Playbook: New view for evaluating QBs

While watching film with Joe Theismann this week, he wondered what Aaron Rodgers’ completion percentage would be if you took dropped passes out the equation. Drops, throwaways, and spikes are all incompletions that a QB is usually not responsible for. What would happen if we took these out of the equation? The result was what we call a “True QBR” rating.

Playbook: ‘JPP’ shows his true potential

After watching the coaching tape, it becomes evident that “JPP” and fellow edge rusher Justin Tuck were as much responsible for the Giants hanging in with the undefeated Packers as anyone else.

Tale of the Tape: Can the Saints stifle Megatron?

Everyone knows the Lions will be without Ndamukong Suh against the Saints this weekend. That’s a huge blow to their defense. But the real story heading into Sunday’s contest will be the absence of wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has been taken away by opposing defenses in the last three weeks.

Playbook mailbag: Peyton Manning, MVP?

Peyton Manning, league MVP. Those words sound great pinned together. But could he be the NFL MVP … in 2011 … without playing a single snap?

Playbook: AFC Pro Bowl picks

With the strength of the AFC residing in the North this season, it’s no surprise our Pro Bowl picks come predominantly from that division.

Week 13 ‘Playbook’ picks: Tough time for Texans

“Playbook” analysts Solomon Wilcots, Joe Theismann, Brian Baldinger and Matt Millen make their picks for Week 13.

Playbook: Suh’s stomp crossed the line

We took a closer look at the coaching tape to catalog the events leading up to Ndamukong Suh’s infamous stomp.

Tale of the Tape: Big man’s game in Baltimore

After tonight’s Thanksgiving feast, you’ll probably feel stuffed like a 300-pound defensive lineman. That’s actually quite appropriate, because if you tune in to watch Thursday Night Football on NFL Network, all of the best talent will be in the trenches for the 49ers and Ravens.

Week 12 ‘Playbook’ picks: Faith in Hanie, Tebow

“Playbook” analysts Sterling Sharpe, Joe Theismann, Brian Baldinger and Matt Millen make their picks for Week 12.

Playbook mailbag: How to defend the Packers

Everyone wants to know how to beat Green Bay right now – coaches and fans. Here’s our best guess at how to do it.

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