Monday, December 21, 2009

Football 301: Decoding Garrett - Week 15

You know what is funny about pro football? A man's career can turn on 1 day if that day has enough profile and impact.

I wonder if Jason Garrett's finest night in 2009 will start the wheels turning back in his direction as it pertains to the "hot assistant names" around the league. Think about it, you know him as a guy who frustrates you on occasion. But, around the league, he is the guy who put the plan together to tame the Saints in front of their home fans. Well done.

Back on August 18th , I wrote about the "12" personnel plans in both Dallas and Green Bay - something that has come to pass as one of the big trends in the NFL. It is interesting to see how the Packers have used it enhance their passing game by helping Finley bust out into a major downfield threat, and the Cowboys have used it to enhance its running game and to find good balance in its attack.

Check out Saturday Night, as we see the beauty of "12" even without Bennett on the roster. John Phillips, a draft-day afterthought, fills in for Bennett the last 2 weeks, and the "12" group has 16 snaps for 184 yards. Nearly 12 yards per snap! That is what we call devastating.

The Under Center/Shotgun balance was also perfect (41/31), with S11 being used primarily as 2-min and 3rd Down, but then "12" and "22" got cooking and did its thing.

Here is the breakdown by groupings:

Totals by Personnel Groups:
PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass

Table Tutorial

Definition of the Personnel Groups, click here .

When doing these breakdowns, there is so much information and we tend to read meaning into all of it based on the simple results (did they win or did they lose?). If they won, everything they did was great. If they lose, everything they did was wrong. I try not to fall into this trap, but in this particular game, I believe they got the game plan right. They mixed in the deep ball well. Many plays set up the next play. The Quarterback carried out the plan.

But, do I only feel that way because it worked? Do you? Do we congratulate Jason Garrett based on DeMarcus Ware getting a sack and fumble to save the game? Food for thought as we prepare for Washington.

Video Breakdowns:

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

The Play:1Q - 1/10/O49 - TD to Austin

What Happened: Just a thing of beauty - the return of the long ball and the "9" route. It starts with the Cowboys showing run in with "12" personnel and the unbalanced line. I am not positive the run/pass splits out of the unbalanced line, but it is almost all run. The Saints know this, so it looks like a smashmouth play in presnap. A little play action, and a great job of holding the edge rush by John Phillips. Once this happens, it is a question of whether Austin can run past 27 Malcolm Jenkins and whether Romo's throw can beat the safety over to the spot. Yes, and yes. Touchdown. This play call only works on 1st and 10, and this is a perfect idea of how the running game sets up the pass because you must respect 1st and 10 as a defense. They did, and the Cowboys unleashed one on them.


The Play:3Q - 3/5/D31 - Pass to Austin for 13 yards "S12"

What Happened: Again, a sliding protection scheme, that is all about just getting everyone to go to the offensive right and then at the same time the QB comes back left with his throw to receivers that also are cutting back to the left. This works very well in man coverage, and from the End Zone cameras (and by the way, full compliments to the NFL Network for all of these nice end zone views to really break these plays down) you can see that Ogletree is even more open, and if Romo sees/trusts him on this play, there may be a Touchdown available. Instead, they take 13 yards to Austin and keep the drive alive. Also, please notice John Phillips and his odd technique of turning his back to the pass rusher a bit and boxing him out like they are fighting for a rebound in basketball. Whatever works, I guess. Another play that many QB's can't run, but Romo is athletic enough to buy another second.


The Play: 3Q - 1/10/D44 - Run Feliz 9 yards "22"

What Happened: You have seen this play on Football 301 all season, "22" personnel, Power play to the right where Witten and Leonard Davis are the big blockers to open up an easy 9 yards on 1st down. The Cowboys true go-to move. But, what makes this a play you will want to review again and again has to be the Leonard Davis block on Jonathan Vilma. Vilma is one heck of a LB, but he is only flesh and bones, and when Bigg gets around the corner with a head of steam, Vilma is tossed a good 3 yards in the air. Bigg has not been what I had hoped this season, but like Larry Allen, even when he is not awesome, he is still pretty impressive in certain spots.


The Play: 3Q - 3/1/O6 - Barber 4 yards to O2 "22"

What Happened: This play, short yardage down by the goal-line, is meant to merely remind us of how San Diego should have gone. Now, maybe, a week of ridicule and criticism inspired everyone to push a bit harder this week, but this is what you do on 3rd and 1. 22 personnel, Davis, Gurode pushing forward! Barber sees one guy he must take on (42 Sharper) and he runs him forward a few yards. Where was this last week? 10 in the box? Doesn't matter when you only need a yard. Well done, but where was that?

The Play: 4Q - 3/7/D23 - 32 yard pass to Austin "S11"

What Happened: I suggest to you that if the Cowboys don't convert this 3rd and 7, the Cowboys do not win. 6:30 to go, clinging to a 7 point lead, and the Superdome is going bananas. This is the play that may have turned the season. Of course, Folk missed the eventual chippy, but, still here is the play. Millen says the Saints called off the blitz, but I still see 6 Saints trying to get to Romo so that is a blitz. Austin demonstrates the fear that he has put in the league with the cushion he is given, and it is an easy 1st down, but because of the throw and the effor by Patrick Crayton it turns into 32 yards. Austin is so fast going across the field and this is what you must make happen to win in this league. Money down, easy conversion. If you were to list the Top 5 most important offensive plays of 2009, how many are Romo to Austin? 4? And the best news is that they hook up on the road constantly: KC, Philly, New Orleans.

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

Past Episodes:

Week 14 - San Diego Chargers
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


Lance said...

Bob - just wanna say thanks. You provide a valuable service my friend. Clearing up a lot of mysteries about football while providing sound analysis.

And you are on vacation. When will your column debut in the DMN?

Love you

DJT said...

Nice break down Bob.

Ware played great but really, that last sack/fumble he caused came with less than 5 seconds left at the 50. Saints were done with or with out the fumble.

That play to Austin on 3 & 7 on our last drive was huge. If you recall, the previous drive Williams dropped the same pass on the 3rd down. Is there any question who Romo trusts and is the true #1 WR? Is there a way to give RW's salary to Austin?

cactusflinthead said...

That's why they call him Sports Sturm. That gave me stats tiredhead in ten seconds flat. Good job, I think.

Big Jim said...

"A man's career can turn on 1 day ... "

Like, Oh, I don't know, mmm, Jim Zorn?