Sunday, July 03, 2016

Cowboys Defensive Film Study Summer Project - Part 3

No Sean Lee in this game due to his concussion at the start of the 2H vs Philadelphia.  Scratches were 23 White and 99 Russell.  This game was another frustrating trip through an inept offense putting a beat-up defense on the field repeatedly with no offensive scoring support.  The Cowboys allowed an unreal 5 drives of 8 plays or more to a rather weak offense which demonstrated an inability to get off the field.  There were a few takeaways and a few sacks, but Tampa was able to get 327 yards by pretty much just finding Mike Evans and throwing him the ball.  Otherwise, there was virtually no real threat on the ground and Jameis Winston was inaccurate for much of the day.  The Cowboys also lost Morris Claiborne at halftime who was being victimized by Evans - especially out of Cover 3 - and left due to a hamstring that would keep him out for a month.  Jeff Heath played more than usual and was good.

COVERAGES - The Cowboys really mixed up coverages after a majority of Cover 1 vs Philadelphia.  Tampa played more run groupings and the Cowboys faced 44 pass plays with the coverages divided between Cover 1 (15), Cover 3 (13), and a real uptick in Cover 2-Zones (16).  When in dime in the 2nd half, there were 4 safeties and 2 corners, which might have been showing how they really had no other extra corners besides Byron Jones.  Jones played in every spot in the secondary and was really solid at all of them.  The Cowboys also had 3 other chances at takeaways in the 2Q, 3Q, and 4Q and perhaps could have won had they gotten any of them.

Season totals through 9 games - Coverages in 336 pass plays: 162 in Cover 1 (48.2%), 86 in Cover 3 (25.6%), 11 in 2-Man (3.2%), and 77 in Cover 2 (22.9%).


No Morris Claiborne who was lost in the Tampa game at halftime.  Sean Lee returned.  Scratches were 49 Nzeochoa and 99 Russell.  This game was the return of Romo and everyone had a skip in their step.  It also helped that Miami appeared nearly helpless in the passing game throughout.  Dallas opened in a ton of Cover 1 and the Dolphins tried to run against nickel with 6 bigs but eventually had to throw and when they did they did not beat Cover 1 early.  Eventually, Tannehill hit Jarvis Landry and Ken Stills deep both over Byron Jones at corner (for Claiborne) and the Cowboys decided to move more to Cover 2 options in the 2nd half when they had a lead.  Also, there was at least one sweep against Cover 1 where the Cowboys got outflanked with the corner (Carr) turned his back.

The defense was dominant versus 3rd Down (1-10) and dominant in yards against (210).  They also went and got the ball with a Pick 6 and also found 3 sacks.  There was reason to believe the season was turning in this game.  Rolando McClain was very good.  Byron Jones demonstrated the first signs that he might be a better FS than a corner.  David Irving showed signs at DE.

COVERAGES - The team faced 30 passing plays and were in Cover 1 14 times, Cover 3 just 3 times, and Cover 2 variations for 13 times including 11 out of 16 situations in the 2nd half when they had a lead.

Season totals through 10 games - Coverages in 366 pass plays: 176 in Cover 1 (48.1%), 89 in Cover 3 (24.3%), 11 in 2-Man (3%), and 90 in Cover 2 (24.6%).


No Morris Claiborne again.  The Cowboys were playing a red-hot Panthers team that did not need help from a generous turnover-prone Dallas offense, but they received it.  Many interceptions were thrown and 2 for touchdowns put this game in the loss column without any assistance from the defense.  However, it should be said that the defense was very, very poor on this day and perhaps best exposed to be a bit too light up front to deal with a physical rushing attack.  When the Cowboys went nickel, the Panthers were determined to run into a light box and Dallas was never able to slow it down.  They tried to play a nickel with 3 safeties with Heath joining Church and Wilcox, but the Panthers barely had a single short drive.  Every drive was either 8 plays or a scoring drive or both.

The Cowboys moved to a ton of Cover 3 early to make sure that they were not in man with their backs turned to Cam Newton on passing plays.  This is a departure from the normal zone-read offenses, but Newton is a far bigger threat than Bradford or Tannehill to run.  The Cowboys did not get very positive performances from many.  They faced nearly 40 runs and just could not get off the field on 3rd down.

COVERAGES - 33 pass plays (most in the 1st half before the score got way out of hand.  The Coverages normalized as the game went on, but was heavy Cover 3 early.  Cover 1 - 14, Cover 3 - 11, and Cover 2 zones - 8.  Newton didn't throw much, but hit 4 different passes for 24 yards or more that were all quite deflating.

Season totals through 11 games - Coverages in 399 pass plays: 190 in Cover 1 (47.6%), 100 in Cover 3 (25.1%), 11 in 2-Man (2.7%), and 98 in Cover 2 (24.6%).


All Hands were on deck for this Monday Night matchup in Washington. The Cowboys were going to continue life without Tony Romo again and that led to the shoulder slumping Matt Cassel return. But, the defense was up to the task for the most part and dominated early with a very high number of blitzes and a streak of 5 consecutive punts from the Redskins to open the game. The most interesting attributes in this game were the constant blitzes of Barry Church and trying to get him more proactive in the game. He sometimes appears a decoration on the defense with no perceivable impact in some weeks, but when they deploy him to attack, he seems better for it. He blitzed about 6 times and came up with some splash plays on three occasions. This was also a great look at Byron Jones at Free Safety on a more regular basis and it sure appears between this game and the Seattle game that this is his best fit. Greg Hardy was a load - especially against the run, and it should be noted that the center turns to his side quite often, making us wonder how much more attention Crawford and Lawrence will receive in his absence in 2016.

On the negative side, this was a very poor return by Mo Claiborne. He was very poor against Tampa, left with an injury, missed Miami and Carolina, and now returns against Washington. If he was still hurt, then we will cut him some slack. But, really, his great start has been cancelled out with Jameis Winston and Kirk Cousins both picking on him. Zone or man, it doesn't matter. He is being targeted. I recall his verbal jabs about too much zone and not enough man early in his career, but there are just too many times where he is asked to run with a player and he gets lost. His confidence looks low and he is attacked, including an ill-advised sequence late where he was in cover 1 against DeSean Jackson and a simple Go route was the game-tying touchdown.

COVERAGES - The Cowboys faced 40 passing sequences in this game and went Cover 1 on 19, Cover 3 on 11, Cover 2 zone on 9, and Cover 0 for what I believe was the first and only time of the season at 11:23 in the 1st Quarter.

Season totals through 12 games - Coverages in 439 pass plays: 209 in Cover 1 (47.6%), 111 in Cover 3 (25.2%), 11 in 2-Man (2.5%), 107 in Cover 2 (24.3%), and once in Cover 0.

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