More on How the Giants Shut Down Dez Bryant
At Bleacher Report, I took a more in-depth look at how the Giants’ safeties were playing over top of Dez Bryant.
Stopping Dez Bryant
There was a play early in the game that really caught my attention in regards to how New York was defending Bryant.
Just over three minutes into the contest, the Cowboys faced a first-and-10 at their own seven-yard line. They motioned tight end James Hanna into a fullback position, showing a “Strong Right” formation before the snap.
I track every Cowboys play, and the ‘Boys ran this formation just 23 times in 2012—only once with this “12” personnel of one running back and two tight ends—and they motioned into it on 15 of those plays. They also passed on 12 of them, meaning it’s one of the true “balanced” formations that the Cowboys utilize.
They can both run and pass out of this formation with effectiveness, which is why they often use play-action when running it. Five of their 12 passes from “Strong” formation were play-action looks in 2012—a 41.6 percent rate that demolishes their overall rate of just 10.0 percent. Romo did indeed show play-action again on this play as well.
Cornerback Corey Webster was lined up over Bryant (top of the screen). That’s a huge mismatch that Dallas would normally want to exploit. Webster was targeted only six times on the night, however, allowing three catches for 25 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.
One of the reasons that Webster and the other defensive backs were so effective on Bryant is that they could play really, really aggressively. On this play, Webster was lined up about five yards off of Bryant. The Giants did a good job of mixing up their looks, playing in a press position on one play and with off-technique the next. One of the benefits of this particular look is that the Cowboys couldn’t immediately back-shoulder Bryant since Webster could initially look into the backfield.
By the time Romo showed the fake and settled into the pocket, Webster was right on Bryant’s hip. Like most plays, he had safety help over the top as well. That allowed him to play ultra-aggressively, shadowing Bryant underneath without fear of giving up the big play.