Dallas Cowboys vs. Indianapolis Colts Week 13 Film Study Observations
This week’s film was a joy to review because (aside from the obvious) the Cowboys threw some new looks at the Colts, both offensively and defensively. Here are some of the most interesting of my observations. . .
- The Cowboys employed a new formation I will call “Gun 5 Wide Tight.” It was similar to the normal 3×2 alignment of a five-wide look, but both Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett lined up next to the offensive tackles (in a receiver’s stance). Before heading out into their routes, both tight ends chipped the Colts’ defensive ends.
- I drew a diagram of a particular route combination Dallas ran a few times from the formation. This was the play the Cowboys ran for a 22-yard gain to Roy Williams (the slant route) on 2nd and 19. As I said, Witten and Bennett both chipped before heading out into the flat. Dez Bryant ran a backside comeback, while Miles Austin ran an out route from the slot.
- In my initial post-game notes, I claimed Jason Garrett should have provided more help to Doug Free in blocking Doug Freeney. After observing the tape, Free actually got a lot more aid than I thought. The Cowboys ran their new “Gun 5 Wide Tight” formation 11 times–nearly 15 percent of all offensive snaps. They gained 131 yards on those 11 plays (11.9 yards-per-play), and only one play didn’t gain yardage (the lone incompletion).
- Garrett also used a new “Tight Spread” formation (below) to help Doug Free and Marc Colombo. The Cowboys gained 26 total yards on the four plays they ran from the look (6.5 yards-per-play). Overall, I think Garrett would be wise to implement more new formations into the offense as he has done intermittently thus far in 2010.
- From my count, the Cowboys wasted 26 seconds on their final drive before halftime. First, they let 10 seconds run off the clock before using their second timeout. Later, they decided to spike the ball (inside of 10 seconds) instead of using their final timeout. It resulted in an illegal shift penalty (which then forced the Cowboys to use that last timeout). It took 16 seconds to get the offense lined up and (illegally) spike the football.
- The Cowboys ran 74 offensive plays, tying a season-high.
- Dallas ran a remarkable 35 plays in Indianapolis territory (46.7 percent of all snaps).
- Unfortunately, the Cowboys ran the strong side dive from “Double Tight Strong” (read the study here) way, way too often (and one time is already too much). This week, they ran the majority of the dives from the “I” variation of the formation (which simply places the fullback directly behind the quarterback).
- Most concerning is that Garrett called the play in a lot of non-short-yardage situations, including five times on 1st and 10 and once on 2nd and 9. Overall, the Cowboys lined up in “Double Tight Left/Right I” 10 times, running a strong side dive on nine of those plays. They gained 22 total yards on those runs (2.44 yards-per-attempt), which is simply unacceptable. Since only three of those runs were in short-yardage situations, there’s no excuse for that kind of predictability. The six strong side dives in “regular” game situations resulted in only 17 yards–2.83 yards-per-rush.
- The Cowboys motioned much less than usual–only 18 times. 17 of those plays were runs, and Dallas gained just 38 total yards on those runs. The one pass went for six yards. They may have limited their motions, particularly on passes, because they figured they could accurately assess Indy’s intentions without the aid of pre-snap movement. That seemed to be the case to me, at least.
- Jon Kitna checked out of four plays–all runs that went for 52 total yards. I’ve been extremely impressed with Kitna’s ability to recognize defenses and put the offense in high percentage scenarios.
- Many times this season the Cowboys’ “offensive balance” has resulted from late runs after a lead was already secured. That wasn’t the case on Sunday, as 15 of the team’s first 20 offensive plays, and 14 of the 18 plays on the final regulation drive, were runs.
- Six of those runs were draws, and they went for 39 total yards.
- Kitna was four-for-five on playaction passes for 41 total yards. He also threw three screen passes for 18 yards.
- Of Kitna’s 26 pass attempts, only nine traveled 10+ yards, and four went 20 yards or more. Of the former, Kitna completed only three for 34 total yards. The Colts played much more of their usual Cover 2 scheme than I expected, particularly early, so Kitna simply took what the defense was giving him.
- Even with the majority of his throws being short, I’d still characterize Kitna’s day as efficient. According to my count, he threw only four off-target passes all day–and he barely missed on those.
- Of the 29 times Dallas dropped backed to pass, Witten was in a route on 23 of them (79.3 percent). That rate is higher than normal, which means Garrett didn’t regularly double-team either Freeney or Robert Mathis. Instead, Witten and Bennett generally chipped the defensive ends and headed out into their routes.
- The Colts didn’t blitz until the Cowboys’ 38th offensive play, but they ended up bring extra pressure eight more times throughout the game. Dallas gained only 29 total yards on the Colts’ nine total blitzes. I’m not sure why teams haven’t begun to place more pressure on Kitna.
I am going to take some time to break down the Cowboys’ defense a bit more this week, and I will report back to you tomorrow with my notes and answers to my pre-game DOs and DON’Ts list.