Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Football 301: Decoding Garrett - Eagles Playoffs

I wonder if we will be "Decoding Garrett" in the 2010 season? I assume we will be decoding something because I am wired to look at football in this fashion, whether anyone else finds this compelling or not. But, I wonder if Jason Garrett will still be calling the plays of the Dallas Cowboys? Or, will he be elsewhere when the season starts as someone else's head coach?

For the 4th consecutive week, his offense, under immense pressure, did whatever it wanted to do against an opponent that we believed had some level of quality in its defense.

The Eagles, who had been gashed for 29 carries for 181 yards a week ago went back to the drawing board and tried to figure out what the Cowboys were doing that was giving them such fits.

Well, as we guessed in our Game Plan preview, they can look at all the film in the world and it won't allow them to defeat the laws of physics as beefy OL men grind them down into a fine powder. This week, it was even worse, with 33 carries for 195 yards.

Two games against the hated Eagles, 376 yards on the ground. In case you didn't recognize, the Cowboys are a power-run football team.

But, wait, there is more: The Cowboys are also a passing team that cannot be slowed down it appears. The best way to look at that is the ability to move the chains on a 3rd down.

I have no idea the full list of adjustments after San Diego, but going into the New Orleans game, the Cowboys converted 62 of 161 3rd Downs (38.5%). Since then, they are 29 of 57 for a stunning 50.8%! Almost half of the total number of 3rd Down conversions from the entire first 13 games have been converted in the last 4! Remarkable.

Where are the Cowboys ranked amongst the NFL? For the season, the Cowboys are 14th in 3rd Down conversions. But, 50.8% would lead the NFL for the entire season (Indianapolis led the league at 49.2%).

As you will see on the video below, this comes down to the Cowboys play in the passing game where they can find and expose the match-ups that they want. There is a masterful job going on right now from Garrett to Tony Romo to the OL protecting and the receivers getting open and making a play.

Here is the breakdown by groupings:

Totals by Personnel Groups:
PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass

Table Tutorial

Definition of the Personnel Groups, click here .

And, let us point out the "23" stuff. Of course, 2 plays for 2 yards will not impress the chicks, but let's remember that both of those plays are Touchdowns - a 1-yard pass to Phillips (not Wade, silly) and a 1-yard Choice run.

Video Breakdowns:

Thanks, Brian at DC Fanatic.com . He has done a ton for this project this season, and deserves your occasional visit to his site.


The Play:1Q - 1/10/44 - Pass to Jones for 30 yards

What Happened: 1st Drive of the game, 12 personnel, and they are expecting a blitz from the Eagles. Watch Austin at the top of the screen try to sell the WR screen to the right, and then the Eagles send the Double A-Gap blitz from the middle LBs who are set a bit deeper than usual to make Romo think there will be no blitz on this play (1st and 10). But, the Eagles can't help themselves and were planning blitzes early and often, so it was a good bet for the Cowboys to be planning on counters. Here, a fake WR screen right, and a screen to the left to Felix after a play action fake that gets out in the left flat. From there, 89 Phillips and 63 Kosier get out in space and the rest is all about Felix and his jets. Big gainer on a well-executed counter to the blitz up the middle, and something referenced in yesterday's Morning After column from Sports Illustrated's feature on Jim Johnson last month. The best counter for the Double-A is the screen.


The Play: 2Q - 3/8/47 - Pass to Austin +13

What Happened: 3rd Down coversions have been their bread and butter, and here is why Jason Garrett deserves credit as well. This conversion is all about scheme. Cowboys open with S11, but with Crayton and Jones next to Romo. In pre-snap, watch what Crayton's motion does to the Eagles defense. He goes wide left, which causes the Eagles to shift down a man. Well, when they broke the huddle, 24 Brown has Miles Austin in a play where the Eagles are going to blitz, allowing for press coverage because Romo won't be able to hold it long. But, the Cowboys counter with Crayton going wide and the Eagles have an automatic which surely declares that Brown takes the outside guy no matter what. Then 21 Hansen moves to Austin, and the Cowboys see just the match-up they want to exploit. If Hansen struggles against Crayton, Austin can make it look easy, and he does with a quick outside step and then a simple slant that leads to a very elementary conversion. Last thing to note is Felix trying to fill in on the 3rd Down package and pass protect. As you can see, he is not going to be able to hold off that LB for long, but it was just enough.


The Play: 2Q - 1/10/40 - Pass interference on Brown against Austin

What Happened: Again, I think this is quite a bit of scheme that makes this possible. First, remember, when the Cowboys run out of "22" personnel, the Eagles get steamrolled (8 carries, 99 yards). So, the Cowboys break out of the huddle in "22" on 1st and 10. The Eagles know the hammer is coming. But, it is a huge Play Action ambush deep shot (that has also re-emerged in the last 4 games) and it works perfectly. I am sure the Cowboys saw in film study that the Eagles were using 24 Brown as 22 Samuel's over the top help, and the safeties were in the box trying to keep another 12 yard carry from happening. So, Romo sells the fake, and catch Asante looking back. Once this happens, Brown takes his bad angle, and despite the fact that it doesn't get recorded in the passing statistics, it is a very big chunk (39 yards) that sets up the 1st score.

The Play: 2Q - 1/10/41 Slant to Austin for 38

What Happened: Remember the slant? It is clearly back. They are now seeing how easy it is because of the 1,402 reasons he gave the opponents to respect him this season. Can you believe his old career high for yardage in a year was 278? Shocking.


The Play: 3Q 1/10/27 - Jones +73 TD run

What Happened: Here is where the Cowboys got their heavy "22" lifting done on Saturday night. 73 yards to Felix around right tackle. The very famous down (Bennett), down (Colombo), and around (Davis) play. So, if you ever hear football coaches talk about down, down, and around, this is what they are saying. The Eagles are extra excited here because they know what's coming. They are all going to shoot their gaps at the snap and plug this thing up. So, Felix bounces it outside Martellus Bennett and when Davis gets his seal, the last guy gets steamrolled. This is what they play for right here. Enough to make the film room get excited.


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

Past Episodes:
Week 17 - Philadelphia Eagles
Week 16 - Washington Redskins
Week 15 - New Orleans Saints
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


Matt said...

Great post, I tell you what, I've learned more from you guys this season, than i have my entire life. Keep it up.

JA said...

Love this blog...keep up the good work. Felix's run was a thing of beauty. It was so well executed that I jumped off the couch and yelled "he's gone!" before he'd even hit the hole. (And I'm not saying that because I'm a football genius. I'm a mere mortal fan, but - holy crap - that play looked good).

Jay said...

OK that 73 yard TD to me was all blocking and props to Marty B for helping make that happen. It is hard to get noticed blocked but watching that play again Marty B did an awesome job blocking. I know we're a bit down on him but I wouldn't get rid of him unless someone gives you a 1st round draft pick. He might just need a year or 2 and he does play behind one of the best TE's in the game.

The Westmoreland's said...

Compelling.... other than the games themselves this is the highlight of my football week. Keep up the good work Bob. I have learned more about offense this year from your blog than I have from just watching the games for 30 years.
P.S. Just for fun could we have a decoding the defense once in a while would love to see what makes the Phillips 3-4 work.

Big Jim said...

Bobster, NEVER doubt those of us who are wired the same as you, even if don't fill your comment pages up with hot air. Good, good stuff. Keep it coming.

Ron Dodson said...

3rd downs will be so important Sunday, because it is likely that Romo will get sacked a couple of times, and the noise is sure to cause a few penalties. The Vikings like to play it straight, so backers jumping the slants will be a possibility. Stick, smash and seam (Bennett? Williams?) must be executed to exploit the only weakness, the Vikings safeties.

Ron Dodson said...

Re: Smash route concept exploiting safeties in MOFO or MOFC coverage see: http://footballcoach1.blogspot.com/2008/10/multiple-smash-route-by-coach-huey.html

Big Jim said...

Follow-up question on the defense, for some future posting, perhaps:

All props to the playmakers, of course, but could you make a case that the true anchor of this defense would be the trio in the middle - Ratliff, James and Brooking - who have consistently stuffed the run without the use of run-blitzes and other trickery?

Shawn said...

If Marion Barber is in on the +79 yard run, that's a 25-30 yarder and we'd all be happy because Barber rarely even gets that far.

I love what Barber did for this team that last 3 seasons as much as anyone, but after watching what Felix did against the Eagles -- there is absolutely no doubt in my mind he should be our most-utilized running back.

It's time to change the guard.

K5 said...

Hi Bob,

I hope to look forward to at least three more "decoding Garret"'s this season and for next season I hope hard for a "decoding someone" I love this stuff.

As someonse said before me, I learned a lot here and it helps me watch games differently as well. Same goes for the breakdowns from TC btw.


jeff said...

Bob I love the blog! I have read every Cowboys post all season long! Thanks for putting in the and effort to write it.

Tommy said...

Austin should have scored on the slant. He cut left back into the guy chasing him. Bend it right, where 11 was in position to get some kind of block. Odd he would cut back into an area where he should have known someone was hot on his heels.