Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cowboys Chat with Broaddus

Bryan Broaddus is one of those guys who can say things because he has done things. For many years, Broaddus was a scout in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. He knows what scouting departments look for, and looks at football from a different perspective than many people in the media.

I really, really desire to understand more of the NFL game from a coach/scout perspective, and I find you can only do this if you figure out what they look for.

That is not terribly easy, but talking to Bryan whenever I can is one way to learn. And, unless you have worked in the NFL, you cannot learn enough of this great game.

You can follow his Rapid Reports on CBS Sportsline and can find him on ESPN Radio. He knows what he speaks of, and for his chat we talk all offense. I think in the next few weeks, we will get him back for a discussion of the defense. But, here is our talk about the offense of the Dallas Cowboys:

Bob: ok, BK, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into a conversation we were having yesterday on the field about the offense and the weapons and so forth.

Proscout: sounds good

Bob: It is my premise, that due to a lot of factors in 2008 (injuries for one), this team got awfully predictable and easy to defend as the season went on. Do you agree with that?

Proscout: I think anytime you dont have your best players on the field that you can become predictable

Bob: I think early on, they were able to do a million different things, but by November, it was pretty much Shotgun with 3WR, and the OL was beat up and it just got tough. It seems now, though, that they have the weapons to really stretch defenses

Bob: What causes defenses so many issues with this offense?

Proscout: OC jason garrett has options to work with. The big question will be if this group of receivers can develop as a group. They dont need to be great but productive

Bob: what does Romo Friendly mean to you? Pass less or pass to safer parts of the field? More TE and RB than WR?

Proscout: Its means that are going to try and find things that Tony is solid at doing. To me this camp is all about finding what works and what doesn't and then take that to the field this year

Bob: OK. Before we get technical, we should explain the personnel packages a bit to the reader: When they talk about "12", they mean 1 RB and 2TE, "11" is 1 RB and 1 TE and so on. First digit is the number of RB's, and Second digit is the number of TE's on the field. Just wanted to make sure everyone follows this.

Proscout: exactly.

Bob: So, with this in mind, Bryan, I am fired up about "12" this season. I think there is plenty of big plays to be made in that set. What sayeth you on this?

Proscout: I totally agree with what you have presented. The "12" will be difficult for teams to defeat because it allows you to still run the football if you try and play nickel against it or pass if they try and crowd the line. it gives the offense a lot of flexiability

Bob: Do you think they have wanted to do this for years? It seems that the Fasano plan and the Martellus rookie year, this was always in Garrett's mind to utilize Witten and company in such a manner. But, it didn't quite pan out. Now, it looks like Martellus is ready to break out.

Proscout: I do think it was in Parcells nature to try this. You have to remember that Jason Garrett came from the Norv Turner offense, very TE friendly.

Bob: It seems like quite a weapon. As you explained yesterday, effective offense is based on being able to run or pass from a given look. That is why "11" out of Shotgun has to be done in doses. In that set, you are passing 75% I would imagine if not more.

Proscout: Bennett has really looked outstanding not only in the OTA's and Mini Camps but now training camp as well. He is a miss match player

Bob: Is he a solid blocker?

Proscout: He has gotten much better as an inline blocker. He is so big and athletic that he can tie you up and shield you from the play.

Bob: Explain for the reader what makes Witten and Bennett mismatches?

Proscout: They are both too big for a defensive back to cover and they are both too athletic for a linebacker to handle as well. Thus they create problems for Defensive Coordinators.

Bob: so, is this where they talk about "bracketing" a TE? With a LB underneath and a Safety over the top?

Proscout: Thats right. Both now that they have two guys like this, even more problems.

Bob: But, without Owens, I would imagine that your average DC would keep the middle full of defenders and make the WR beat 1-on-1. Then, if they do, you adjust to that. But at first, I cannot let Witten beat me.

Proscout: The combination of these tight ends and running backs will have to carry this offense until these receivers get their legs.

Bob: Ok. So, if I have Bennett and Witten giving the LB's and SS fits, then who is in the box sitting on the run?

Proscout: There is your problem. The more you committ to these TE's the more you have to deal with Barber or Felix Jones busting runs on you. its really simple math.

Bob: So, to understand how OC's think about personnel packages, you choose between a 3rd WR, a 2nd TE or a FB. In that math equation, I have to go with Martellus in most normal downs and distances.

Bob: Especially if Witten and Bennett are both comfortable at the H or F back, right?

Proscout: Thats right. What combination gives me the best chance for success. They will run across teams that don't have the personnel to handle a two TE package

Bob: How do you best utilize MB3 and Felix?

Proscout: I know I can play with my base offense with MB3 With Jones, I try and create space. Give him the opportunity to get the ball on the edge in the open field.

Bob: In looking back, this offense really had gold with Felix. It never was close to the same after he was hurt. What situations should they be looking more to Felix than to MB3?

Proscout: Any time you have an explosive player, he creates problems for the defense. Take away that element and you are going to struggle. I really can see both of them in some creative packages. In camp, they have used Jones as the "F" and put him in motion. I really like how that creates mismatches. I would try and get them both on the field at any situation. Again, explosive players equal great things.

Bob: Sometimes, the presnap motion of Felix can be as dangerous as anything. Talk about panic in the secondary when he goes wide.

proscout: Because you know what a game breaker he is. You game plan to stop him now he is on the move. That is panic.

Bob: So, with 3 major mismatch issues: 82, 80, and Felix. Why am I hearing so many talking heads telling me that the offense will not be the same?

proscout: Because they dont trust these wide outs

Bob: OK. Let's visit that group. Can you win with them?

Proscout: Until they find some steady play makers on the outside, people will continue to doubt.

Bob: 2 WR on the field. Who will it be with Roy?

Proscout: I really like Miles Austin because of his speed. Crayton catches most of the passes thrown his way and Hurd has flashed ability. I would like to see Austin be that guy but he has to prove he can handle the job.

Bob: I have thought Austin was going to break out since his plays against the Packers in 2007. Does he just have to stay healthy, or is there more to it?

Proscout: This is going to sound crazy but to play receiver in the NFL, you have to be tough because you take some pretty good shots during the course of a game. Pain and injury is something you have to deal with. Austin needs to develop that toughness to be a down after down player. He has to find a way to stay healthy or he is no good to this club.

Bob: It does seem, though, that he is on the radar around the league as a guy who may have something. I know the Jets were flirting with him. If he has a big year, he could become pretty rich next spring.

Proscout: The Jets deal to be honest was really not more than a free trip home. He wanted to be in Dallas and he wants to play here. He does have something when you watch the tape that you love. He can really run and he has a feel for how to make things happen with the ball in his hands. Thats what can make him rich.

Bob: Beyond Roy, Crayton, and Austin. What else is there that is worth much WR?

Proscout: You didnt mention Hurd but at times that understandable. Right now, this is just my gut feeling. If no one steps up for that 5th WR spot, they are going to keep four and use that spot on another position.

Bob: So no Jesse Holley high hopes? :)

Proscout: If Jesse Holley makes the practice squad, he should be happy. I will say this about him, he does catch everything thrown his way.

Bob: So, I have avoided the topic that is most dangerous until the end. What about this Offensive Line. Should we be scared about what could happen with one twist of a knee?

Proscout: There is no doubt you should be scared. In practice, we have seen Leonard Davis take some reps at left tackle. Doug Free as a back up looks steady, McQuistan not so much. I don't want to see another season of Procter and Montrae Holland plays painfully slow. So, yes I would worry.

Bob: The depth on the OL can sink this whole thing.

Proscout: Its that way with a lot of teams in this league but look at the investment this team has made in linemen for none of them to develop. It's really sad.

Bob: Very sad.

Bob: As we saw last year, health is the one thing you can not account for, but you must have.

Proscout: Health can win you a Super Bowl.

Bob: Bryan, Hopefully this wasn't too painful. I would love to do it again. Thanks so much for your time!

Proscout: next time we will talk a little defense...I enjoyed it...

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