Cowboys vs. Giants Week 10 Film Study Observations
- In my initial post-game notes, I wrote briefly about a new formation the Cowboys ran against New York. They called it three times, running the same pass play (below) from it each time. I’ve named the formation “Double Tight Left Ace.” It’s actually very similar to “Double Tight Left I,” except there is an extra tight end to the weak side instead of a fullback.
- The first time the Cowboys ran the play, it appeared as though Felix Jones was the primary read on the pass. The Giants were in man coverage, which meant their linebackers ran with the three tight ends who flooded the left side of the field. Jones stepped up into the vacated area and Kitna quickly hit him for a 12-yard gain.
- The other two times the Cowboys ran the play, however, the Giants were in a zone. Instead of running to the middle of the field, Jones headed out into the flat. The other players’ routes were the same, meaning Jones probably had an option route on the play. If New York was in man coverage, he ran the route above. If they were in zone, he headed out into the flat.
- After reviewing the film, the Cowboys’ clock management prior to halftime was even worse than I thought. They had a 2nd and 1 at their own 46-yard line with well over a minute to play and two timeouts. Instead of using a timeout or going into a hurry-up offense, they huddled. The decision cost them the opportunity to move into field goal range for David Buehler.
- I didn’t see too many differences between Paul Pasqualoni’s play-calling and that of Wade Phillips. Pasqualoni dialed up an exotic zone blitz early in the game, dropping both DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer into coverage and sending Alan Ball after the quarterback. The play worked well, but the Cowboys didn’t come back to it. I think Pasqualoni is too similar to Phillips for my liking.
- I’m not sure what sort of effect the Cowboys’ full pads practices had on the outcome of the game, but Dallas did appear much, much more physical on defense. They looked genuinely excited to be playing football for the first time since Week Three. I was particularly impressed with the physicality of players in the secondary, especially Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick.
- Scandrick had a really good game overall. He was a step ahead of his normal position on most plays, causing Eli Manning to make difficult throws on a number of occasions. On Alan Ball’s late interception, Manning had to lead the receiver too far because of Scandrick’s tight coverage. Now he needs to show consistency.
- Once again, proponents of the run will claim the Cowboys won because they were more balanced offensively, but that’s simply not the case. Only 12 of the first 33 plays were actually runs (36.4 percent). The correlation between rushing attempts and winning is generally due to teams running after they’ve already obtained a lead. As was the case Sunday, that lead usually comes via big plays through the air. The Cowboys didn’t win because they ran the ball often–they won because they ran it effectively, allowing for big passing plays downfield to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
- Garrett must simply not like Tashard Choice. Choice again played just one snap–the 3rd and 22 pass to Roy Williams that went for 27 yards. It was ALL because of Choice. Well, not really, but why is Marion Barber still getting so many reps ahead of him?
- Besides “Double Tight Left Ace,” the Cowboys lined up in another unique formation. You’ve probably all seen the “Pistol” offense run by college teams like Nevada and Indiana. If not, see below. . .
- The trademark of the “Pistol” offense is the running back lined up behind the quarterback in a Shotgun formation. Generally, the running back is to the left or right of the quarterback. The reason I love the “Pistol” so much is that it doesn’t allow the defense to obtain a pre-snap key as to the play-call. When a team is in a regular Shotgun formation, running plays are generally designed to the side of the formation opposite the running back. In “Pistol,” a running play could go either direction.
- The Cowboys used a variation of the “Pistol” which I have termed “Trips Right Pistol,” running the ball up the middle for a combined 12 yards the two times they called it. I drew up the formation below. . .
- I didn’t see a significant change in Garrett’s play-calling, but the Cowboys did motion a lot more than usual later in the game. Generally, Dallas has motioned the majority of the time in the first 20 or so plays of games–the scripted plays. On Sunday, Dallas motioned 11 times in the second half alone, including five of the first six plays to start the half.
- Of those five plays, four were passes and they totaled 117 yards (29.3 yards-per-pass). Let’s see if this trend continues into next week.
- Dallas lined up in a lot more two and three-tight ends sets, even before securing a large lead. Of their 49 offensive plays (minus two quarterback kneels), the ‘Boys implemented three or more wide receivers only 14 times. It may have seemed like more because Bryant was targeted so much, but you’ll be happy to know that he’s effectively replaced Roy Williams as the No. 2 receiver.
- Jon Kitna checked out of a play four times–two runs for five yards and two passes for 13 yards and a touchdown.
- After running the ball to the outside of formations quite often to start the season, the Cowboys went back to pounding it up the middle against the Giants (as they did in 2009). 15 of their 24 runs were in either the “1″ or “2″ hole–right up the center’s butt.
- I thought the Cowboys would run more draws than they did (three). Those runs went for 24 total yards, so the few times they dialed up a draw it was effective.
- The Cowboys didn’t run a single counter all game.
- The Cowboys ran four playaction passes. Only one was completed, but it went for 27 yards.
- Garrett also dialed up four screen passes and they were extremely successful, thanks to Felix Jones (71 yard screen for a touchdown) and Dez Bryant (46 yard screen).
- It may have seemed like the Cowboys threw the ball downfield much more often than usual, but that simply wasn’t the case. Only eight passes traveled over 10 yards. Kitna & Co. were simply effective when they did take their shots.
- I counted only four passes as being off-target for Kitna. He had quite the night. Imagine what Romo could have done with this sort of protection.
- Of the 25 called passes, Jason Witten was in a route for 20 of them. I’ve explained in the past why the Cowboys are slightly more effective with Witten in a route, but they totaled an incredible 140 yards on the five passes he stayed in to block.
- Garrett made the offensive line’s job easier by calling three designed rollouts–the most in a single game all season.
- I was shocked with the lack of pressure the Giants brought. I counted only five blitzes all game, and the Cowboys totaled only eight yards on those plays. After the initial success the Cowboys had on offense, I thought the Giants would become more aggressive on defense, but it just never happened.
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