Cowboys – Giants Plot Point – Defense

Today’s plot point review looks at Tempe, a double end-tackle stunt that turned around the Giants game.

The situation:  Two minute warning, first half.  The Giants defense has forced a punt that sets Eli Manning and his offense up near mid-field.  The score is 21-10 and Dallas desperately needs a stop.  Specifically, the Cowboys need their pass rush to produce something.  Manning has rolled down the field on his first three series and is 11 of 12 on his pass attempts.  Dallas has won first and second downs, but the Giants are a perfect 7-of-7 on third downs, six of them converted by Manning passes.

The Cowboys have failed to this point to fluster Manning.  He’s had time to sit in his pocket and peruse down-field throws.  He’s beaten the secondary with long and short throws to the electric Odell Beckham Jr.  Their long touchdown connection on the first play of the second quarter sparked his team.  Now, Manning is looking for another deep strike.  The Giants are due to receive the 2nd half kickoff and if they can score here, they can run away with the game before it’s 40 minutes old.

On 1st down, the Cowboys use a four-man rush called Jet.  It’s the most basic rush in the book, with all four rushers trying to beat their blockers in their assigned gaps.  Left end George Selvie drove past Manning on the QB’s right, then spun inside and made a diving swipe at Manning’s feet.  Selvie tripped Manning, putting the Giants in a rare 2nd and long.  On the next pass, Rod Marinelli called Tempe, a double end-tackle game, where the defensive end and defensive tackle on each side of the line run sturts.

In Tempe, the left side runs Tex, a game where the DT attacks the offensive tackle on his side first, allowing his DE partner to loop inside of him and attack the B gap. (Tex = tackle first.) On the right side, the D-line duo runs Exit, the opposite combo to Tex. (Exit = end first.)  Here, the end crashes inside towards the A-gap first, while the DT holds a count, then loops outside the end’s charge:

Tempe cut-up

The stunt broke right end Jeremy Mincey free inside for a clean sack.

Tempe photo 1

Still one shows the beginning of the combo stunts and also the Giants’ protection.  Manning fakes to his running back (23) who slides across the formation to assist the right guard and tackle.  New York has three blockers on each side of the pocket against two Cowboys’ rushers.

Tempe photo 2

Still two shows the two stunts in progress.  Let’s start on our right, where DT Tyrone Crawford and DE George Selvie are running the Tex game.  Crawford has driven across the right tackle’s face.  Selvie is looping inside, but right guard Kevin Boothe (77) and the back are waiting for him.

On the right, the Exit game looks more promising.  Mincey is driving past LT Will Beatty and is aiming for the center’s inside shoulder.  DT Nick Hayden is looping outside of Mincey and has enticed the right guard (68) to chase him. This breaks the integrity of the Giants’ left side pocket.

Hayden breaks free and has a straight line at Manning, forcing the QB to slide to his right.  Mincey is locked up by Beatty and the center in still three, but you can see Beatty eyeing Hayden.  The LT will turn Mincey free to engage Hayden:

Tempe photo 3

Mincey is even with the center in still three, so when Beatty lets him go, Mincey has a clean run at Manning, whom Hayden has flushed into Mincey’s grasp.

Tempe photo 4

Tempe photo 5

In the short term, the Tempe rush has stopped the defensive bleeding.  Mincey bull-rushed through Beatty on the next play and wrapped up Manning again, causing an intentional grounding penalty.  New York punted, keeping the halftime score 21-10.  In the long run, the stunt game tipped off Marinelli to a weakness on the Giants’ left side.  He ran another DE twist at Beatty to start the second half and cracked Manning’s confidence.

Next:  Mincey and Hayden run Tex at Manning.

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Keith Smith riding a roster coaster

IRVING, Texas -- You can forgive Keith Smith if he feels like he is on a never-ending roller coaster. For the fourth time this season the Dallas Cowboys called up Smith from the practice squad with injury concerns at the linebacker spot. This week Dekoda Watson has been ruled out because of a hamstring injury. Injuries to Rolando McClain, Justin Durant and Bruce Carter forced the Cowboys to call up Smith at other times. He has not spent more than two straight weeks on the active roster.

RG III’s fall hard to fathom two years ago

IRVING, Texas -- Was it just two years ago Robert Griffin III shredded the Dallas Cowboys in the Washington Redskins' 38-31 win on Thanksgiving? Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones wasn't quite sure himself when he talked about Griffin on NFL Network Wednesday morning. But let's take you back to Nov. 22, 2012, at AT&T Stadium. It was Griffin's first game against the Cowboys and he completed 19 of 27 passes for 304 yards with four touchdowns and an interception.

Terrance Williams among seven Cowboys listed as probable

IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams went through his first full practice of the week on Wednesday despite a small fracture on the tip of his left index finger. He is listed as probable for Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Williams is one of seven players listed as probable, including quarterback Tony Romo, who went through his second straight full practice. Defensive tackle Josh Brent (groin), defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (knee), right tackle Doug Free (foot), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (shoulder) and linebacker Rolando McClain (knee) are listed as probable.

Eagles’ tempo concerns Cowboys’ defense

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of worries when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles offense. There is LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles running the ball. There are wide receivers Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews. There are tight ends Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey. Mark Sanchez has thrown for 300 yards in each of his three starts. But it’s more than just the personnel. It’s the tempo at which Philadelphia plays that worries the Cowboys most.

Five Week Season To Fill In Blanks For Cowboys and Garrett

With six games remaining and the Cowboys 7-3 at the bye week, it’s a six game season to finalize a lot of Cowboys decisions. Ok … now it’a a five week season as I  just couldn’t find a good spot to get this posted before the victory over the giants. A long list of critical Cowboys decisions will be determined over the final six five games of 2014 that will impact a bevy of decisions in 2015 as well.

Decisions Waiting On Final Six Five Games

(or … Dez isn’t the only X in Dallas)

  • 2014 Items
    • Cowboys finish with a X and X record
    • Romo seen in public sans monkey attached to back in 201X
    • Cowboys Nation leading AA membership at X %
  • 2015 Items
    • Claiborne is put on 2015 injured reserve for X NFL team
    • Jason Garrett signs contract to coach with X
    • Marinelli signs contract to coach with X
    • Dez Bryant signs contract extension for X over X years
    • DeMarco Murray signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Rolando McClain signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Henry Melton signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Doug Free signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Bruce Carter signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Dwayne Harris signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Anthony Spencer signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Ron Leary signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Cole Beasley signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Lance Dunbar signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Chris Jones signs contract extension for X over X years
    • George Selvie signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Nick Hayden signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Sterling Moore signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Tyler Clutts signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Micah Pellerin signs contract extension for X over X years
    • C.J. Spillman signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Jack Crawford signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Josh Brent signs contract extension for X over X years
    • Tony Romo signs contract extension for …. na .. just kidding :)

(Big thank you to Spotrac.com for the contract info)

That’s not all of the 2015 contracts but certainly the ones of note. How much of an impact will the final five weeks have on the above list? Let’s break it down into a path chart based on the one number that counts most, wins over the final five games and see how it affects the above list.

Zero More Wins 2 More Wins 3 or More Wins
Final Record 8-8 10-6 11-5
Romo Monkey Firmly Attached Occasionally Seen Vanished
AA % 90% 10% 90%
Garrett High School Cowboys HC Cowboys HC
Marinelli Tampa Bay 50/50  ‘Boys Asst HC
Bryant Extended Extended Extended
Murray Free Agent Extended Extended
McClain Free Agent Extended Extended
Melton Free Agent  Free Agent  Free Agent
Free Free Agent  Free Agent Extended
Carter  Free Agent  Free Agent  Free Agent
Harris  Free Agent Extended Extended
Spencer  Free Agent Extended Extended
Leary Extended Extended Extended
Beasley  Free Agent Extended Free Agent
Dunbar Extended Extended Free Agent
Jones  Free Agent  Free Agent  Free Agent
Selvie  Free Agent  Free Agent  Free Agent
Hayden  Free Agent  Free Agent Free Agent
Moore Extended Extended Free Agent
Spillman Extended Extended Free Agent
Crawford  Free Agent  Free Agent Free Agent
Brent Extended Extended Extended

As you can see, I believe an excessive swing either direction will have a huge impact. If Cowboys implode there will be a lot of turnover from players the Cowboys no longer want. If they explode there will be a bunch of players they can no longer afford. Going the middle route (insert Goldilocks reference here) would probably split the difference.

Biggest changes are in the coaching department with both Garrett and Marinelli’s future up in the air. With the Cowboys finishing strong I figure JJ ponies up and gets Marinelli to take an assistant HC pay boost and Garrett to a nice extension. Anything less than strong and I believe it’s totally up in the air as Marinelli has strong ties to Lovie Smith and Tampa Bay.

I don’t see the Cowboys keeping a lot of the role players they have on the roster this year as the heavy defensive turnover should continue. Defensive backs can get expensive on their second contract and Doug Free’s status will depend on how the offensive line performs. If they continue to grow and dominate the Cowboys should try and lock him down for a few extra years. Bruce Carter is gone unless he will take a team friendly deal. Leary “should” be resigned with Murray being the  only big name guy that might not have a star in 2015 other than perhaps Melton who is most likely gone with Tyrone Crawford taking over his spot.

Insofar as Cowboys Nation leading AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) membership ratio. It will increase from it’s current league leading 60% to 90% if the ‘Boys finish 8-8. It will drop to an astounding 10% in one season if Dallas finishes with enough wins to make the playoffs going 10-6. If the Cowboys win 11 or more I see the ratio balooning to somewhere above 90% and I will be leading the charge with mad glee in my eyes and two German Bier Steins liberated from the 1978 Oktoberfest in Munich tightly clinched in celebrating fist.

The Cowboys should be in good shape in 2015 with a keen eye towards pruning the Cowboys salary cap tree. Regardless, these above individuals are all playing for their golden rings. The second contract is THE contract for any NFL player. This bodes well for the Cowboys prospects in 2014 as every one of these guys has a better reason than most others on the field to keep their eye on the prize.

What say you Cowboys Nation?

Another Left Coast Cowboys Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over

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Dwayne Harris looking more like old self

IRVING, Texas - Dwayne Harris turned in his best performance of the season against the New York Giants. The Cowboys could use a similar performance Thursday against Philadelphia, which has one of the best special teams units in the league. Harris returned four punts for 68 yards with a long of 20. He also made a nice tackle on Odell Beckham Jr. on a punt return and downed another punt inside the 10. He has only two punt returns of more than 20 yards this season -- he had eight in 2012 -- but he showed signs against the Giants of finding a rhythm.