Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Football 301: Decoding Garrett - Week 14

There have been 3 games this season where the Cowboys gathered fewer yards than on Sunday when they had 360. At Denver, At Green Bay, and H vs Washington were both less productive, and in those games, the Cowboys scored 10, 7, and 7 points. So, as you can see, it would have been nice if the Cowboys had done more than their 2 drives of reasonable length on Sunday.

As a season evolves, the Cowboys are trying to narrow down their playbook to what they do well, and at the same time, continue to add things to keep from being too terribly predictable and to use their personnel in a way that squeezes full potential out of your abilities.

In football 301, I generally try to stick to breaking down the positive plays and attempt to not make this a negative rant about why Jason Garrett is not doing a great job. The fact is, he is a bright offensive mind, and gets plenty of things right, and I try to point that out each week while offering some observations on how they could get even better.

But, one other time, when we broke down the crucial goal line failure during Week 4 - Denver, we looked at what went wrong with the offense at the key moment of the game. I believe we will effort to do some of that today.

Here is the breakdown by groupings:

Totals by Personnel Groups:
PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass

Table Tutorial

Definition of the Personnel Groups, click here .

As you can surmise, much of the game plan was normal. 13 games into the season, there is rarely a new wrinkle of great substance. But, Garrett has slowly (once a game) tried to introduce S21, which is a new-look at the shotgun offense, where the Cowboys put 2 RBs in the formation, Barber to one side, Felix Jones to the other. I believe this is part of the "use Felix more initiative", which I suppose is owner-driven based on some of our findings.

Regardless, they ran the S21 3 times, for a total of -12 yards. 2 incomplete pass plays, and a sack surrendered, so I think we can say that needs more work.

And then, "23" personnel. This week, without Martellus Bennett available, the "23" was going to have to find a 3rd TE to make it work. So, in comes G Cory Procter to attempt to help the most powerful of the power run formations. 2 RBs (often a FB) and 3 TEs and 5 OLmen. That is plenty of beef to move a yard.

The "23" package had been used for 6 snaps in 2009. It is a look only used on 3rd and 1, 4th and 1, or goal-line situations. 6 snaps for the entire year, for 750 plays going into Sunday. For 6 plays, they spend time every week in practice, staying ready for just these situations. Since Denver in week 4, when the Cowboys used "23" for their only TD, the Cowboys have not needed it, except for 1 snap against Seattle. 1 snap in 8 weeks. But, on Sunday, when you least suspect it, and when you lose a Tight End to injury, you need it 3 times to get 1 yard.

Video Breakdowns:

Thanks, Brian at DC Fanatic.com . He made his phone-in debut to BaD Radio yesterday, and deserves your occasional visit to his site.

The Play:2Q 2/G/1 - 23 Barber 0 gain

What Happened: Before we get too far into this, I want to readily admit I don't fully understand offensive line technique in general, but at the goal-line I really don't. So, with that in mind, let's look at 23 personnel. We have Procter off LT, Phillips off RT, and Witten to the right of Phillips. Anderson at FB, and Barber deep. It appears to be a very basic lead play, where hypothetically, you head behind Anderson, into a hole in the "A" gap, between Gurode and Davis, with the understanding that Barber may have to adjust on the fly and just try to find any gap with which he can get the final yard by launching into the endzone. Tim Dobbins, who is now famous for his post-game quotes about the imagination of this offense is the key linebacker in this play - #51 and he meets Barber and drives him back. It looks like Leonard Davis (watch for a theme here) fails to get to 51 and occupy him, in fact, you can see Bigg hold his ankles in desperation. Phillips and Gurode both lose badly at the point of attack, and It is tough to see Free (until you see him face down on the turf as Barber is getting stuffed), but when 3 of the 4 guys on that side of the line appear to lose, then Barber and Deon Anderson are pretty much on their own. Anderson stands his guy up well, but Barber doesn't have a chance. This is not good.


The Play:2Q 3/G/1 - "23" - Barber 0 gain

What Happened: This one is not quite as easy to figure out as 2nd and Goal. In that play, most everyone loses their block, but on 3rd and Goal, it seems that there is some green between Gurode and Davis. Barber bounces is it to the outside of Davis and it gets plugged up out there when Phillips cannot keep 93 Castillo from turning the play back inside. Again, Dobbins 51 and Siler 59 are there, but I would have liked to see if Barber could have pushed Siler into the endzone if he would have stayed inside on this play. Again, on the goal-line, every inch counts, so I am not saying there is an obvious hole, but rather a different choice may have resulted in that extra 3 inches. Deon Anderson goes to the left to attract some attention this time, but the Chargers are swarming. I suppose in the big scheme of things, this would have been the play to dink it over the top to Witten, but as you can see 23 Jammer and 25 Ellison are sitting on Witten waiting for that most obvious of ideas. This is why teams will sometimes attempt to throw it to a player like Procter (Mike Vrabel) who would not get any attention from the defense in a scenario like this one.


The Play: 2Q 4/G/1 - "23" Barber 0 gain

What Happened: And here the goal-line stand is complete. "23" again, but Deon Anderson goes out, and Marion Barber moves to FB. We don't have a ton of plays to call upon in this scenario, but I have to believe the Chargers were sitting on the idea that Barber was getting the ball on a quick smash, and Felix was there merely as a decoy. Again, I would love to have an OL coach sitting with me and explaining the intention of this play. To me, it appears to fake to Felix is pointless, as they never try to sell it. It appears that LT and LG are both blocking down inside (yesterday I suggested Kosier was pulling - clearly wrong), which only further congests the interior of the line. Is it possible that it is Romo's option to actually pitch it to Jones here and the Line is blocking for both possibilities? Regardless, in the impact zone (between 65 Gurode and 68 Free) there appear to be 4 Chargers for 3 blockers. This allows 59 Siler to shoot the A gap and meet Barber behind the line, who is not getting as much speed since he is lined up at FB. I have to tell you, the 3 plays all go behind Leonard Davis, and I cannot tell you that he "won" his block in any of the 3 plays. I also have to wonder the logic of asking the Right side of your line to win when Colombo is out. They never seemed to consider the left side. In goal-line plays, I know LBs are not always fully accounted for, because you don't have a chance to get 2nd level blocks, but you obviously cannot have them slicing your gaps up and meeting your ball carrier in the backfield. This was a very poor result.


The Play: 3Q S11 - TD pass to Austin

What Happened: I really liked this idea, but it is all predicated on the discipline of the Chargers. S11, with Austin and Witten on the right, Williams and Crayton on the left. On this play, once Witten stays in to block, it is all based on Romo and Barber selling the run. If they do, there is a chance that everyone may freeze and Austin can get behind a host of Chargers in the secondary. At the snap, watch 23 Jammer who is covering Austin signal to 27 Oliver behind him. We don't know the message, but it appears Jammer is expecting Oliver's help at a certain depth. Oliver is not paying any attention to anything but Romo's fake to Barber, and he sneaks up for run support. Trouble for Oliver when it is a pass, and Jammer and Oliver look like lost together, and Romo sets up a much easier throw with a great fake. Nicely done, and like last week on the Williams TD, the precision of the fakes are allowing for much easier passing lanes.

The Play: 2Q 1/10/29 "22" Felix +12

What Happened: I am often asked, what is the Cowboys' identity on offense. You know my answer if you read this every week, but here it is on this one play. The ability for the Cowboys to win at the point of attack and allow their runners to head down the field untouched for 12 yards. Every OLmen wins here, and the Cowboys have done this time and time again. From this, the opposition has no choice but to crowd the box. This, in turn, sets up play action, and the Cowboys offense begins to march. Obviously, things change when you get to the goal-line and take any possibility of passing out of the mix, and then the defense knows your ideas and can diagnose and address far easier. But this is a perfect example of doing what you do.

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

Past Episodes:

Week 13 - New York Giants
Week 12 - Oakland Raiders
Week 11 - Washington Redskins
Week 10 - Green Bay Packers
Week 9 - Philadelphia Eagles
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


Marlon said...

Bob....you and I have jousted on twitter about J. Finley, etc. but I do appreciate what you do with Football 101 on Tuesday. Going through these plays tells me a few things. Leonard Davis is overrated and the Cowboys don't trust the left side of their offensive line. I have been saying that the offensive line is the BIGGEST problem with this team personnel-wise. Hopeful that Free can mature into that role at RT and that Brewster can replace Kosier next year. Because of the money spent on Bigg he's not going anywhere. The Cowboys MUST draft a LT, hopefully one can fall to them in the 20s, which is where they likely will end up. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to load up on linemen. Cowboys seem capable of drafting TEs, RBs, and DBs but they will have to take more chances to get the right O-linemen in. What do you think about Joe DeCamillis as next head coach? He has the respect of the players. I know we'd lose Jason Garrett but I'm a big fan of how DeCammilis REALLY has the players' respect. I hope you consider bringing it up on air.

Jay said...

am i the only one who thinks barber broke the plane on 3rd down? gollee i would think normally that would have warranted a challenge right there.

Michael said...

This is my first time reading your blog Bob. Its quality stuff and I'll be a regular now that I have sampled a taste. Before reading this I was already contemplating a Mike Vrabel type goal line specialist. The guy I had in mind though was Jay Ratliff. Jay actually played some offense (RB & TE) before switching to D in college. He should have the hands to control the ball and we all know he has the speed and strength. I'd love to hear of the team giving him some practice reps.