Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Football 301: Decoding Garrett - Week 5

DISCLAIMER: This is not for everyone. It may not be for you. This is a statistical study of the Cowboys offense with lots of numbers that may make your head tired if you are not up to it. Read it only if it is something that is of interest to you.

There are many issues with the Dallas Cowboys 2009 season. Many improvements that need to be made in this bye week. Many concerns about different departments doing their job better than they have been.

I am here to tell you that moving the football is not one of them. For the first 5 weeks, the Cowboys offense has gained an astounding 6.57 yards per snap. The Cowboys are #1 in the NFL in yards per game with 429.2 (New Orleans #2, New York Giants #3, Indianapolis #4, and Pittsburgh #5). The Cowboys are also #1 in yards from scrimmage, and yards per play. When it comes to moving the ball, the Dallas Cowboys - with all of their perceived warts, are moving the ball better than any team in the NFL.

The reason this doesn't translate into points every week is 2 fold:

1) The Cowboys rank #30 in the NFL in starting field position. Only Tennessee (0-5) and St Louis (0-5) start every possession deeper in their own territory. In the Cowboys 57 offensive drives, they have averaged getting the ball at their own 25 yard line. This of course is a result of the fact that almost no team in football takes the ball away from its opponent less than the Dallas Cowboys defense. So, if the only way the offense ever gets the ball is via punt or kickoff, they start deep in their own end every time. And then, all of those yards account for fewer points than they should.

2) The Cowboys redzone visits (15) have not resulted in enough Touchdowns (7). This ranks them 22nd in Touchdowns in the Red Zone average, and they are also 21st in the NFL in points per possession in the Red Zone. Inefficiency in the red zone means FGs instead of TDs, and that leaves too small a total of points at the end of the game for the yards they are gaining.

Combine the two, and you see why the Cowboys have the most yards, but still stuggled to score points against Carolina, Denver, and Kansas City.

Now, to the Cheifs game: 498 yards on Sunday for the mighty Cowboys offense on 61 offensive snaps for 8.16 yards per snap.

Let's look at the Cowboys use of Personnel in their offensive snaps:

Totals by Personnel Groups:

PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass

Table Tutorial

Definition of the Personnel Groups, click here .

What jumps off the page here? Easy. The return of the domination on the ground with the "22" package. This is exactly what the Cowboys did during Week 2 against the New York Giants when they ran 10 running plays for 121 yards. This week, they gashed the Kansas City Chiefs on 7 plays for 87 yards.

This tells us something pretty clear: Despite lining up with a clear "Run-First" look with 2 TEs and a FB, the defense still cannot do anything to stop them. I was blown away to see how they did it, and I want to demonstrate that down here in the video breakdowns.

Video Breakdowns:

Thanks, Brian at DC Fanatic.com who provides the videos (and the biting commentary) for this exercise. And Shawn for his work in compiling numbers.

The Play: 3Q - 1/10/35 - 35 yard TD run Choice

What Happened: 22 Personnel; With Crayton wide as the only WR to the right. Bennett and Witten lined up tight to left tackle. In the pre-snap, Deon Anderson goes from being lined up from off-set to the right to off-set to the left with motion. Clearly the idea with this formation is to over-load the formation to the left and make Kansas City decide if it wants to move them all over and match-up, or leave the free safety over the top to help with Crayton. In this case, the Chiefs left the safety high (#44 - Page) and then they were out-numbered at the point of attack.

On this play, with the run going to the left, everyone blocks down to the right (Watch 82 & 80 drive the LBs for 10 yards), with the exception of the opposite guard (#70 - Davis) who kicks across to the left and serves as another lead blocker with the FB Anderson. They are both looking for the last two defenders to spring Choice for a long run. Anderson gets the OLB (#91 Hali) who appears to be afraid to take on Anderson, and Davis then has to choose between the CB or the SS. Leonard Davis gets them both! And once that happens, the FS has no chance, and Choice is gone. This is what they hope for in practice. The perfect running play. Choice is almost untouched to the endzone. But wait, it gets better!


The Play: 4Q - 1/10/26 - 17 yard run to Barber

What Happened: What do you do if a play works? Run it again. This time, the Cowboys run the exact same play that they did for the Choice TD play one possession earlier. Except, they just flipped the play, and ran it to the right. Once again, the WR is split left (84) and the 2 TEs are on the right tackle. Anderson starts off-set to the weakside, and then in the presnap, he rolls strong side to once again create a massive over-load to the strong.

At the snap, watch the KC LB Corey Mays get blocked completely out of the play by Jason Witten again. Then, Kosier #63 pulls out to get #30 Mike Brown. There are a few differences to this play when you compare it to the play above that Tashard took for a TD. This time, the Chiefs actually have 9 in the box! The Chiefs are sitting on the run. They know what is about to happen, and shift the LBs on the motion with Anderson. But, again, they can't stop it.

The other difference is that you have a hurt Marion Barber running this play instead of a healthy Tashard Choice. Choice breaks this for a TD, and Barber can get 17, but cannot get that last burst to leave #44 Page, the FS in the dust. But, wait, there is more!


The Play: OT - 1/10/21 - 24 yard run to Choice

What Happened: Here you go. This is the EXACT same play again! The third time they ran this play within about 20 minutes of the game. This time, the Chiefs finally defend it better. They hold the point of attack better, but Choice does what he is coached to do if there is nothing available inside - bounce it to the outside. By doing this, he finds 24 yards when there was only a few to be had when Kosier and the Tight Ends were not quite as effective.

The ran the same play over and over against the Giants out of "22" (but, a different play than this one) and had great success. And then ran this play 3 times for 35, 17, and 24. Bravo.

Now, a few looks at how Miles Austin made his yardage:

The Play: 2Q - 1/10/43 - 37 yards to Austin

What Happened: "S12" with 2 TEs on the left, and Austin and Crayton on the right. Once again, one of the biggest concepts in beating a zone coverage is to overload to one side. In the presnap, we saw how the Chiefs didn't move much to compensate Witten from going tight on the left to out-wide on the right. He then starts a route down the sideline and sits. This reminded me of the big pass play to Patrick Crayton against Tampa Bay where they run Witten short, and Austin to about 15 yards, and Crayton even deeper. All along the right sideline.

Romo holds the coverage to Witten with a pump fake, and that leaves Austin open. Again, Jarrad Page misses a tackle and gets Austin day going strong.

The Play: 4Q - 3/5/41 - TD to Austin beats blitz

What Happened: S12 again, this time on a 3rd and 5 late in the game, where the Chiefs are going to bring pressure. They end up blitzing 7 men, and the idea here is to make Romo make a quick decision and a perfect throw. He does both, and then the Cowboys get the added bonus of Austin breaking a tackle from #31 - Leggett and again taking advantage of another bad angle by a Chiefs safety. Their safety play was horrendous.

Romo showed tremendous awareness and made sure everyone was picked up. Then, he executed a spot-on throw that was going to move the chains. This is the QB play the Cowboys must have each week.


The Play: OT - 2/15/40 - TD to Austin

What Happened: S11 - There is not much to show you here. Sometimes a play is a great concept of strategy, and then other times, it is just a guy making a play. Miles Austin turns a short gain on 2nd and 15 into a home run. The Chiefs were in the right spot. Nothing complicated about a 10 yard route. Just simple poor tackling or play-making - depending on who is telling the story. These are the types of plays Terrell Owens has made. For the WR corps to survive long-term, they need more of these, and that is why Austin makes more sense than Crayton as the regular 2nd WR when Roy is healthy.

Target Distribution and Sack discussions are going to appear later this week so that we can get this post up on time. Feel free to blame Bono.
Past Episodes:

Week 4 - Denver
Week 3 – Carolina
Week 2 - New York Giants
Week 1 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Garrett '08

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