The Cowboys gave up 3 sacks on Monday night, but the biggest bust in pass protection did not result in a sack but rather a broken collarbone. So, I will reprint our analysis from that hit, first, and then get to the 3 sacks the Giants did record.
The Cowboys have surrendered 10 sacks this year, with 8 of them in Shotgun. This further cements my long held theory that Shotgun does not help pass protection like the conventional knowledge suggests. I contend that shotgun declares your intention to the defense - thus, encouraging more blitzes and more pass rushers. Also, 3rd and long doesn't help, either.
Keep in mind, without Hudson Houck or Jason Garrett sitting us down and pinning blame, we are left to speculation and best guests, and that is what I am doing. I get some of these wrong from time to time, but here is what I saw:
Reprinted from Decoding Garrett:
The Play:Play #13 - 2Q - 1/10/43 Romo hurt on completion to Austin
What Happened: OK, since you have seen this play 100 times already, I just want to discuss the idea of the check/release responsibility of Gronkowski on this play. Check/release means that his first job is to check the blitz, and if there is none to pick up, he releases into the flat to become a target for Romo. I assume that 59-Michael Boley dummied him and delayed his blitz before coming, but when you look at the replays, it appears that Boley did not really delay his blitz much at all. Gronkowski must decide if Boley is coming, and he obviously diagnoses the SAM LB as a coverage LB and gets it dead wrong. This happens all of the time in the NFL, and this is why many coaches hate to depend on rookies in the back field to get these diagnose plays right all of the time. Gronkowski appears to be in a hurry to get to the flat to make himself a target. Most coaches would remind him that his target in the flat will be Romo's last option, so be safe and just stay in and protect even if there is a small amount of doubt. He gets this dead wrong and while 95% of the time if you get your QB hit he gets up, this was not the case here. Chris Gronkowski may have a bright future in this league, but unfortunately, right now he is known as the guy who got Romo hurt.
Play # 19 - S11 - 3/10/D40 - SACK for Deon Grant
What Happened: Sometimes, the scheme the defense throws at you is just awesome. As I look at this, and consider the spot in the game - backup QB, no running game, no confidence in the offense, and no ability to move the ball - this almost seems unfair that Perry Fewell would throw this at the Cowboys. Under the best of circumstances, this particular blitz is tough to handle. The Cowboys have their hands full dealing with 4. 5 is difficult. 6 is next to impossible. And then 6, with a double blitz through the same hole is silly. Look at 91-Tuck. He is standing in pre-snap, showing that he might move before the snap, but then he makes sure that he starts over Leonard Davis and slants in to Gurode to take the RG and the Center out. Tuck is so good that I don't think Davis has any choice. Next, RT Colombo has his hands full with 90-Jason Pierre Paul, their 1st Round pick out of South Florida who almost gets Kitna off the edge. So, with Tuck and Pierre-Paul, the entire right side of the line has their hands full. Next, Michael Boley shoots that B Gap on the right and Marion Barber is right there to grab him, so the Cowboys are ok if that is it. But, then here comes blitzer number 6, timing his run perfectly right behind Boley, and Deon Grant gets there untouched. I have no idea who would get the blame here. I am going to say that the only chance to get Grant was on Leonard Davis, but I think it is unfair to lay this at his feet. But, because I have no other theory, Davis gets the bust. This is just too an awesome scheme from the Giants.
Play #34 - S11 3/10/D25 SACK for Boley
What Happened: Another sack that is not cut and dried on the blame game. Osi Umenyiora goes around Doug Free with relative ease and would have sacked Kitna if he did not go for the fumble. But, since he did go for the fumble, Free gets beat but does not technically give up the sack. Meanwhile, Boley does nothing besides clean up the scraps, and Barber had him in a good spot until Kitna runs up in the pocket. Again, this is subjective, but if I am grading the OL on this play, I must assign this sack to Doug Free.
Play #47 - S11 - 2/10/O45 SACK for Cofield
What Happened: OK, this one is easy. Phil Costa is in the game because Kosier and Holland are both out at Left Tackle. Phil is an undrafted rookie free agent and is trying to develop into a reasonable interior backup lineman for the Cowboys on the fly. Trouble is, he is not ready to deal with the NY Giants pass rushers just yet. Here, Barry Cofield makes extremely quick work of him and ends up getting the ball for the Giants as well. In a week of difficult sacks to find blame, Costa made this one clear. Since he could be starting Sunday, you can bet the Jaguars are looking to expose this.
Season To Date Sacks
The Rankings for the season in Sacks Allowed among the OL: Davis 3, Colombo 2, Coverage 2, Gurode 1, Free 1, Costa 1
Bob Sturm is host of BaD Radio on The Ticket 1310 AM Mondays through Fridays at 12-3 p.m. He also hosts The Ticket's Cowboys pregame show. Follow Bob on Twitter at
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