Dallas Cowboys at Redskins Week 1: Final Film Study Observations
- The Redskins’ blitz package was the primary reason the Cowboys had trouble on offense. As I mentioned in my post-game notes and post-film study review, I thought Jason Garrett’s play-calling was actually pretty good. However, the Redskins confused the Cowboys’ offensive line with constant stunts and surprise blitzes. They showed blitz on 27 of 69 plays (39.1 percent) and also blitzed 15 times when they didn’t even show it. Thus, they blitzed or showed blitz on a ridiculous 60.9 percent of plays.
- You might be saying, “But Tony Romo is solid against the blitz, isn’t he?” Yes, but Washington’s blitzes were much more difficult to block than “normal” blitzes. Nearly every blitz came from players other than who was showing it, creating problems for Dallas and Romo. Overall, I was really impressed with what I saw on film out of Washington. I can honestly say that was one of the more innovative single game blitz packages I have seen in awhile.
- One of my favorite plays of the night was the play the Cowboys ran with Barber, Jones, and Choice all in the backfield (below). They motioned Jones into the backfield pre-snap to form a Power I, then handed the ball off to Choice on the weak side with Barber lead blocking. Meanwhile, Jones was trailing Choice as a pitch man. Choice ended up hanging onto the ball for a six-yard gain, but the ‘Boys could come back to that play down the road.
- I’ve heard a lot of media and fans claiming that Marion Barber would have run for a touchdown on the team’s 3rd and 1 toss play on which Coach Phillips called a timeout. This is simply not true. Disregarding the fact that Barber doesn’t exactly have game-breaking speed, it was obvious that he wouldn’t have even broken into the open. Of course it is impossible to tell if Barber would have broken a tackle, but even if he did, he would have presumably slowed up enough for another defender to reach him. All in all, it probably would have been, at most, a 10 or 12-yard run.
- Andre Gurode played well most of the night, but he did yield a sack. Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh acted like he was going to drop into coverage pre-snap, then came on a slightly delayed blitz. Gurode was fooled and lost his leverage, eventually holding McIntosh–a penalty which Washington declined because he sacked Romo anyway.
- It appears the Cowboys will shift more this season. There were three pre-snap shifts on Sunday night after only 15 in all of 2009.
- The Cowboys called one particular play a few times, including twice in a row near the end of the third quarter. The personnel is two tight ends, a wide receiver, a tailback, and a fullback. The Cowboys lined up in 3 Wide Strong (shown below), with Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett both lined up out wide on the same side of the formation. Bennett then motioned into a traditional tight end spot, and the offense ran a power run to the strong side.
The point of the play was to show a passing look before shifting into a more run-oriented formation, hopefully confusing the defense on their responsibilities in the process. It also allowed for more “big boys” at the point of attack.
The play can be successful, but the ‘Boys need to be careful not to overdo it. Look for a playaction pass out of the same formation within the next few weeks.
- I loved the third down draw plays. The Cowboys ran two of them on 3rd and 2 out of Shotgun, and both went for first downs. Not only do I love third down runs, but the Cowboys are also a much more effective draw-running team from spread formations (see below).
Random (and perhaps useless) stats
Yards by Down
- First Down: 33 plays for 187 yards (5.67 yards-per-play)
- Second Down: 23 plays for 104 yards (4.52 yards-per-play)
- Third Down: 13 plays for 54 yards (4.15 yards-per-play)
- Fourth Down: 1 play for 31 yards
Red Zone Play-Calling
- Inside five-yard line: One run for zero yards, one pass for four yards (TD)
- Inside 20-yard line: Three runs for 20 yards, three incomplete passes
- Base (TE, 2 WR, RB, FB): Seven plays
- 2 TE, 2 WR, RB: 17 plays
- 2 TE, WR, RB, FB: 10 plays
- TE, 3 WR, RB: 26 plays
- TE, 4 WR: Nine plays
- TE, WR, 3 RB: One play
As you can see below, Garrett did a really nice job of mixing up the formations. The Cowboys lined up in an incredible 25 different formations on the night.
3 Wide Strong Right (1), 3 Wide Weak Left (1), Ace (4), Double Tight I (1), Double Tight Right Ace (1), Double Tight Left (or Right) Strong Left (or Right) (3), Double Tight Right Weak Left (1), Gun 3 Wide Pro (5), Gun Spread (1), Gun TE Quads Left (1), Gun TE Spread (4), Gun TE Trips (8), Gun TE Trips Empty (9), Gun Trips (4), Gun Trips Empty (1), I-Formation (3), Power I (1), Strong (8), TE Spread (5), TE Trips (1), Twins Left Strong Right (1), Twins Right (1), Unbalanced Ace (1), Weak (4), Wildcat (1)
- The Cowboys motioned on 33 of 69 plays, gaining 160 yards on those plays (4.85 yards-per-play). My 2009 study on Cowboys motions shows they weren’t particularly efficient then either.
- As I detailed in my game recap, the Cowboys ran predominantly to the left on Sunday night (away from Alex Barron). The chart below details the exact holes in which they called runs.
- I predicted the Cowboys would run less draws this season, and they dialed up just three against Washington. They went for a total of 14 yards. The efficiency of draws will increase this season as they are called less often.
- The Cowboys’ five playaction passes went for a total of 19 yards and a touchdown.
- I counted eight of Romo’s passes as being off-target. In my 2009 study of Romo’s throws, I noted he threw just over seven off-target passes per game.
- The Cowboys were obviously concerned about their pass protection, because Jason Witten stayed in to block on 15 of the 47 passes (31.9 percent). That’s up from last year’s rate.