Cowboys vs. Eagles Week 14 Film Study Observations, What We Learned About Dallas
- The Eagles didn’t blitz an inordinate number of snaps, but they did an incredible job of disguising their intentions. Quite often, they tricked Jon Kitna into believing a blitz was coming when it wasn’t (or vice versa), forcing him to audible when he shouldn’t. Last week, I talked about how productive Kitna has been on his checks all season, but that wasn’t the case last night. He audibled seven times (a bit more than usual due to the Eagles’ unique pre-snap alignments). Five of those plays were runs, going for 11 total yards. The other two were passes: a two-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten (which appeared to work because the Eagles anticipated a draw), and Kitna’s second interception.
- Overall, Philly blitzed 12 times. The Cowboys dropped back to pass on all 12 of those plays, completing six-of-10 for 35 yards, an interception, and a touchdown (giving Kitna just a 60.4 passer rating on blitzes). Kitna also ran for nine yards and got sacked once on Eagles blitzes.
- Philly also showed blitz on five plays but then backed out into a safe coverage. Dallas passed on four of those plays for 17 total yards, and ran twice for four yards.
- I thought the Cowboys had an up-and-down night in terms of Michael Vick’s rollouts. The goal was clearly to not let him get outside to the left, and for the most part they did fairly well. They did a particularly nice job of limiting Vick’s rushing yards without using a spy. They also forced him to his right pretty often, and he threw one of his interceptions while rolling right.
- It takes 60 minutes of great football to beat an elite football team, however, and the Cowboys failed to stop Vick from rolling to his left on the very first play of the game. The Eagles ran a bootleg and Vick sat extremely comfortable in the pocket after rolling left, heaving a bomb to DeSean Jackson that set a tone for the whole night.
- The Cowboys ran “Double Tight Strong” eight times, five of which were strong side dives. Unfortunately, they ran the strong side dive in normal game situations, not just short-yardage. They went for four total yards. Nice.
- On the three non-strong side dives from the formation, Dallas ran once for six yards and threw twice for 26 yards. Quite a difference.
- Dallas motioned on 14 of their first 20 offensive plays, but then on only eight of their final 40.
- In my pre-game manifesto, I called for the Cowboys to throw a lot of screens. They threw five for 44 yards, but I would have liked to see more. Two of the “screens” were to wide receivers for just two total yards.
- I hated the Cowboys’ 4th and 4 punt from the Eagles’ 39-yard line. Statistically, they should have gone for it on all the way up until 4th and 11 in that situation. Actually, they should have gone for it on 4th and 4 at their own 39-yard line.
- The draw play was clearly part of Garrett’s game plan, as the team ran it nine times. They gained 37 total yards on those plays and scored one touchdown, so it was moderately successful.
- Meanwhile, Garrett dialed up on two counters. They went for 23 yards. Please. Run. More. Counters.
- Kitna was four-of-eight on playaction passes for 65 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
- I told you I’d get you a breakdown of Kitna’s pass attempts by distance, so here you go. . .
- I wanted the Cowboys to throw a lot of screens and deep passes on Sunday, but they tallied only nine total passes that were either behind the line-of-scrimmage or over 15 yards downfield (in the air). They averaged 10.3 yards-per-attempt on these nine passes.
- Meanwhile, the offense attempted twice as many passes (18) in the 0-5 yard range alone. They averaged half the yards-per-attempt (5.2) on these throws. This is evidence that the offense needs to get the ball downfield. Let’s not forget that the simple act of stretching the defense (even on incomplete passes) can open things up underneath and in the running game. Here is more evidence that Garrett needs to call more deep passes.
- Witten went into a route 31 times of the 39 plays Kitna dropped back to pass (79.5 percent).
- I credited Felix Jones as yielding the team’s only sack. Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo blocked well on the play, but a defensive back came storming through the line between Davis and Colombo late on the play. I’m almost certain from Jones’ body language during the play that he was responsible for any free rushers. He really needs to improve in pass protection.