Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Football 301: Decoding Garrett - Week 9


Winning a road division game is about the result, not necessarily about how you go about getting that result. Sunday night, the numbers are not that impressive in many categories. They only ran for 76 yards on 23 carries, and that was aided by Barber adding 24 yards on the final drive (so 52 yards the rest of the game). They also surrendered 4 sacks which is not a great performance in theory.

But, they made plays at the precise important moments to get the win by hitting on big 3rd down passes. A very difficult recipe to follow, but on this particular night, the Cowboys looked very good in doing what they did.

Totals by Personnel Groups:
PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass

Table Tutorial

Definition of the Personnel Groups, click here .

S11 has not been great this season, but on this particular night, the package gave us the home run to Austin, both WR screens to Ogletree, and the 64-yarder to Crayton. It also surrendered two sacks, but the good surely out-weighed the bad.

Check out the breakdowns, I think there is extremely good stuff this week:

Video Breakdowns:

Thanks, Brian at DC Fanatic.com who provides the videos (and the biting commentary) for this exercise. Despite the fact that I keep asking more and more out of him, he keeps saying yes!

The Play: 1Q - 8:30 - 3/9/23 21 yard pass to Ogletree

What Happened: This play is where I want to spend quite a bit of time this morning. This is just wonderful to behold: S11, with pre-snap motion of 82 Witten to the left of the formation. It is 3rd and 9, the stadium is going nuts, and the Eagles are bringing 7 on a blitz. Look at the Eagles in presnap. None are putting their hands on the ground, though, to confuse the OL on who is rushing and who is not. Of course, against the Eagles, the best bet is to assume everyone is coming. In the coaching lingo, the Eagles love to employ "jokers" - which is basically defensive players who could be rushers or could be pass defenders and you won't know until snap. Another example of how far football has developed over the years. Roger Staubach never had to worry about zone blitzes or jokers.

Anyway, Garrett knows a conventional pass play will face a 7 man blitz (minimum). At the snap, the Cowboys send what appears to be a handoff to the left with Tashard Choice and 70 Leonard Davis moving to the left and the defense reacts. So, from an Eagles standpoint, first you have a blitz and then you have the flow going to Romo's left to account for 82, 70, and 23 headed in that direction on what appears to be a run

Now, timing is the issue. The OL must hold their position to sell the play for a moment, but then head out into the right flat to help Ogletree. Romo must wait just a count to bring the LBs to him and then loft the pass over their head and to 85 Ogletree. Perfectly timed. And the rest is up to the offense to get everyone blocked. Crayton takes out Ogletree's man, Kosier and Adams come all the way across the field to do damage.

This is taking the Eagles most aggressive plan and turning it against them. They ran this play again the same way in the 2nd Q and it worked again. This is one of the best jobs the offense has done all season. On this play. Love it.


The Play: Next play 1/G/2 - Razorback Choice TD

What Happened: So, on the very next play, 1st and Goal from the 2, the Cowboys risk getting too cute and going to the Wildcat/Razorback. You can tell they are just itching to use this package. Here, they run a big unbalanced line to the left of center (Witten-Colombo-Adams-Kosier-Gurode)with a tiny right side (Davis-Bennett). Romo split wide right to occupy one DB and Austin wide left to take another one. From there, it is merely 9 on 9 with 2 yards to go. Davis pulls from RG and Deon Anderson from FB just destroy the only two Eagles left to try to stop the play. I recommend you just rewind this play and enjoy Davis' work over and over again. I don't ever want to say something is unstoppable in the NFL, but this is close. The one guy you don't account for is 58 Cole, who is lined up over Bennett. Bennett blocks down, so Cole comes free, but doesn't have the time to run around Bennett and catch Choice from behind. A very interesting goal-line concept that is being used quite a bit around the league as your basic Lead play, but you make them account for the QB by spreading him out wide - and then you have 1 hat for every hat on the defense.


The Play: 2Q - 10:23 1/10/36 - 10 yard pass to Witten

What Happened: A simple demonstration of smart football here. Even though it is 1st and 10, the Eagles are going to blitz again. They attempt to cross up Romo by sending 27 Mikell from appearing to cover Witten to blitzing the QB. Meanwhile, the MLB 50 Witherspoon will run to Witten and try to cover the spot 27 just vacated.

Of course, that leaves a second for Witten to be uncovered completely, and that is the read on this play. Again, preparation is important here, because this play doesn't go this way in presnap. In presnap, Mikell is giving Witten 10 yards, but as Romo looks around the defense, Mikell creeps up to show press coverage and then blitzes. Only film study shows you that Witten will then cut his route off, and get you a simple gain on 1st and 10. High percentage, drive-building plays are how you win football games on the road in the NFL.


The Play:4Q - 8:13 - 3/14/49 - TD to Austin

What Happened: I hate to get carried away this morning on this stuff, but this is just a flat-out masterpiece. 3rd and long is not where the Cowboys generally do well. Why? Because the opponent will almost always blitz in this situation, and that limits your QB's time to make the throw. This is far more an issue here because you have to wait another second for your WR to run 14 yards before you can get the ball out.

Well, the Cowboys know the blitz is coming. They go max-protect with 82 and 23 staying in to help. Everybody gets their guy, and Colombo in particular is dominant here. The whole play is sold on the Romo pump fake. He is getting really good at this which is not hardly even an arm movement, but more a shoulder fake. 24 Sheldon Brown wants to jump the route and win the game, even though he has safety help from 27 Mikell on the slant. Trouble for both of them when it is not a slant, but a slant and go. Austin is too fast to guess wrong on, and the throw is perfect, the catch is sure, and the run after the catch is Miles being Miles.

We wonder what they work on for weeks and months in the off-season and pre-season. And then all 11 guys do a masterful job on one play that helps win a game in November and it reassures us that somebody over there is doing something right.

The Play: 4Q - 4:27 - 1/10/23 Barber for 16 yards

What Happened: Game Killing is very, very important - especially as you head into this time of year. You must be able to move the chains once or twice by running the ball and taking the last precious moments off the clock. Here, the Cowboys go 22 personnel, and the Eagles know what is coming - but they are not able to stop it. 82 and 80 are off of Flozell's left shoulder, and it is up to both TEs to get their block. Witten spins out to the sideline and seals his man, and Bennett gets to the 2nd level and picks up a safety and drives him back 15 yards. This is why people think Martellus can be great in this league (and we are still waiting for much of it) because he can run like a deer past a LB, but destroy DBs in blocking. Well, 1 out of 2 so far.

Impressive showing there.

Target Distribution and Sack studies will be in another entry today. Stay tuned for that.

Past Episodes:

Week 8 - Seattle Seahawks
Week 7 - Atlanta Falcons
Week 5 - Kansas City
Week 4 - Denver
Week 3 – Carolina
Week 2 - New York Giants
Week 1 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Garrett '08

1 comment:

Jay Beerley said...

It really was great.

And I'd also like to say I wish Collinsworth could color every game in the NFL. The guy doesn't try to say many stupid or flashy things, just can IMMEDIATELY point out the stuff you guys show us on Tuesdays. That's quality. Aikman is a beat down. As much as I loved him as a player, and even much rather have Billick doing the main color for Fox.