Well, I know the hurt is still there for many fans of the Cowboys, but just know as you read this that the Cowboys coaching staff has already digested the Giants film and today will put the finishing touches on the Panthers' game plan.
The Giants game will be remembered by many of us as a failure, but success versus failure in the National Football League sometimes comes down to a simple field goal attempt with no time left on the clock after 3 hours of two teams killing each-other. The basic truth is this: In every game, there is good to consider and bad to avoid. And Sunday night, the Cowboys did some wonderful things. But, it only takes one untimely lapse in judgement from either your QB or your Offensive Coordinator to get you beat. That is the point of this Tuesday Series here at Inside Corner. To examine where they got it right, and where they got it wrong during each Cowboys game.
You likely do not require this breakdown to realize a few things: 1) The passing game, regardless of personnel package, has not looked that bad since Brad Johnson was working his magic. and 2) When running the ball, it worked in pretty much every look. But "22", was very impressive. 58 snaps, and 28 snaps (48%) included at least 2 Tight Ends - so it wasn't straight "12", but they continue to use Witten and Bennett as big parts of what they do.
Let's visit about "22" this week. This week, the Cowboys used it more than any other package in their base offense (S11 is the standard 2-minute offense and therefore will generally always have the highest numbers).
"22" means that the Cowboys deploy 2 Running Backs (Barber or Jones, and the FB Deon Anderson) and both tight ends (80 and 82). This obviously is a power running set that allows you to do a number of things andmakes the opponent second guess what it puts out there. If they leave their standard defense out there, there is a chance that you can get a hat on a hat in the running game and roll through some big plays. 10 Run plays out of the "22" and the Cowboys rolled up 121 yards. Barber broke a 25 yarder, andFelix Jones busted a 56 yard run, both out of this set.
Totals by Personnel Groups:
Definition of the Personnel Groups, click here .
"Other" this week represented 4 snaps. Early in the game, Garrett rolled out "31" on a 2nd down and 1 yard to go with Choice, Jones, and Barber all on the field at the same time. "S01" was run twice - this is a shotgun set with 0 RBs and 1 TE (so all 4 active WRs were on the field) - that yielded 2 plays for 20 yards which was the 20 yard catch to Austin down the middle. The final new personnel look Garrett used on Sunday night was 1 snap out of a "S21" - Shotgun with Barber, Jones, Witten, and 2 WRs. This was on a key 3rd and 8 in the 4th Quarter where Romo hit Witten for 13 yards near midfield. Look for more out of this look at certain times down the road because it really stretches the defense to account for 28, 24, and82 underneath.
1st Q - 3/10/D24 - In "S11", Pass to Crayton, Interception by Johnson for Touchdown
3rd Q - 1/10/N47 - In "21", Pass to Hurd, Interception by Phillips
3rd Q - 1/10/D16 - In "22", Run to Jones, 56 yards
4th Q - 2/6/N41 - In "S11", Run draw to Barber, 34 yards
Last week, we got some great feedback on our video breakdowns. Once again, I want to thank Brian at DC Fanatic.com and I greatly appreciate his technical abilities and willingness to spend his own time in putting this stuff on video for us to digest. Please go visit him when you can.
Also, another Cowboys fan, Shawn in Florida, deserves recognition for compiling some various numbers over the years (and emailing me with better Cowboys observations than most) and I want to thank him before we go on. Anyway, here we go - and this week, we need to look at some of the bad:
The Play:1st Q - 3/10/D24 - In "S11", Pass to Crayton, Interception by Johnson for Touchdown
What Happened:S11 on 3rd and Long. Witten and Austin to Romo's left; Williams and Crayton on Romo's Right with Crayton in the slot. Chances are, the Cowboys had one thing called in the huddle, and then when the Giants have 7 guys on the line in pre-snap, Romo audibles to something a bit more safe. Then, the Giants appear to counter his audible with one of their own, as Antonio Pierce calls of the blitz (which obviously is Man coverage) andswitches the Giants to a zone underneath look. Check Mate. Romo did not have time to change the play a 3rd time, so he runs what they called. At this time, he must concede the play and throw it out of bounds and take a punt. He does not. He tries to make a perfect throw, and unless it is 100% perfect, it is getting picked. Punts are good. Picks are bad. Especially bad if it is returned for a Touchdown because you did this at your own 24 yard line. Very, very poor.
Some have asked me if he should have taken Roy on the slant underneath, but I think Pierce blows that up, too. I think the safe play is the punt at this spot on the field.
The Play:3rd Q - 1/10/N47 - In "21", Pass to Hurd, Interception by Phillips
What Happened: Remember last week, the Cowboys ran "21" personnel 11 times and ran out of it 10 times. I was sure that Garrett had a play-action ambush planned out of this look, and here it was. But, it backfired badly. The Cowboys lead here 24-20 late in the 3rd Quarter. The biggest issue here is it is 1st and 10 and the Cowboys were running the football with ease. Ending this drive in the end-zone may put the game away, so you understand the desire to go for the "Kill shot".
The premise of the play is very simple. Play fake to Barber and go over the top to Hurd. If the Giants are playing like a team that has been getting gashed on the ground (The Cowboys had just run for 84 yards in the last drive!), then they are expected to crash the line of scrimmage with the safeties and linebackers. Why was Kenny Phillips playing the deepest pre-snap safety anyone has ever seen? Why was he expecting this play on 1st and 10 when the Cowboys hadn't take a deep shot all night? Was it too obvious that the call was coming? Did they steal a sign? I have no idea.
But, Tony has to see his key. On a deep pass like this, the key is the deep safety. Brian added some audio here that is very telling and also, the Ed Reed interception from last winter. Good football X's and O's. And a big tip of the hat to Bill Sheridan, the Giants new Defensive Coordinator. Sometimes, a great idea doesn't work. Here it was.
The Play: 1st Q - 1/10/N40 - "22" personnel - Barber run for 25 yards
What Happened: This video is joined by animation by Brian! Sunday night, as the Cowboys were on their 2nd drive, it became clear that they were running the same play on the Barber 25 yard run and then 2 plays later on the touchdown run. Check it out. "22" - with Bennett and Witten on the right showing a pass look. Then, in pre snap, Bennett crosses Witten back towards Colombo. It looks like the play is designed to either go Gurode and Davis in the "A" gap, or between Davis and Colombo in the "B" gap, with Barber having the liberty to cut back if the Giants over-pursue.
The first play, he does sense the Giants LBs over ran the play (Watch #52 Boley, the WLB go too far to his left, and #65 Gurode bulldoze him further out of position), so he headed back to Kosier/Adams. Kosier gets a good seal, and Barber is off. On the Touchdown, Barber just follows Big Len. Same play, run twice in 3 snaps, and run very well.
The Play: 2/10/D16 - "22" personnel, Felix runs for 56 yards
What Happened:Another "22" look, with Bennett off Right Tackle, and Witten in motion across to the left. Watch Witten's motion taking one safety out of the run defense, and now, the LBs sense that the play is going to the Cowboys strong side (right). Once again, #52 Boley gets caught up in the wash, and when Felix cuts back, Deon Anderson doesn't even have anyone to block. Then, Felix can easily get up on the Safety Phillips who takes a bad angle and is lost in space against someone of Jones' speed. 2 snaps later, they ran this same play with Jones, and it burst for another 15 yards.
The "22" is interesting, because it seems like you always have plenty of blockers, and the RBs can run to daylight. I would expect that this is another way to utilize 2 TEs down the road.
This will demonstrate why pregame talk and pregame articles are just guesses. I looked closely at this matchup, and it seemed obvious that they Cowboys should have great success going to wide outs because the Giants have horrid healthy in their secondary. Without Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery, and withboth safeties being gimpy, it would seem that Williams, Crayton, and friends should be able to make some big plays, right?
Wow. 5-18 to Crayton, Williams, Hurd, Austin, and Bennett. Basically, anyone downfield not named Witten had almost no success on Sunday night. And, against a depleted Giants secondary on a night where the Giants were unable to get to Romo with pass rush? Amazing. Reminds you of the Seattle playoff game when the Seahawks pulled Pete Hunter out of a Dallas mortgage office and the Cowboys could not take advantage of that, either. And, let's not forget that Romo to Witten caused the "Heel INT" on Sunday night, so that wasn't perfect either.
Targets - Week 2 vs NYG
Season Target Distribution To Date:
3rd Down Target Distribution:
3rd down targets are key to see what Romo does on a "make-or-break" down. Who does he trust? Who gets open when they need it? 15 3rd down throws for Romo this season - with success (either a first down or a touchdown) on just 5 of them. Of those 5, 4 go to Jason Witten. The fifth success was a dump off to Tashard Choice for 3 yards. And on Sunday, Roy Williams did not even get a ball thrown his way on 3rd down. Hmmm.
3RD Down Targets - Week 2 - NYG
3rd Down Targets - Season Totals
Here, we keep track of sacks all season. So far, pass protection has not been an issue at all. But, trust me, this is a long season. we will need this chart, too.
Anyway, we will continue to update this chart as the season goes on: