Two things have become common knowledge of just about all football fans.
- The Cowboys have the most dominant offensive line in football.
- But, they also have (what we think) will be one of the worst defensive lines in terms of pass rush in the league.
It seems counter-intuitive that a team who has clearly placed such a high emphasis on building from the inside out on one side of the ball, has become so decimated on the other.
But that's where they are right now. A young defensive line with very little experience who will be asked to play above their heads and make plays which they haven't so far in their young careers.
Giants Pass Protection
Before we really get into this film review, I will mention that yes, it is only a preseason game. However, it was the third preseason game, commonly referred to as the “dress rehearsal,” and the majority of the Giants offensive starters played through 2 and a half quarters, providing us with some quality film.
Now, let's take a look.
Here we see the Giants in an obvious passing situation. With Shane Vereen in as the back, they should theoretically be able to pick up any six man blitz the Jets could throw their way. The Jets bring all six players who showed pre-snap, and get a free runner at Eli Manning for the sack and the turnover on downs.
While the focus of this piece is how to exploit the Giants offensive line, the guys upfront actually don't do such a bad job here. This free rusher is the fault of the running back, who steps up into the b-gap while the blitzing defender come free off the edge.
Rod Marinelli and the Dallas Cowboys don't love to blitz, we know that. But with the questionable pass-rushing ability of their defensive ends, bringing 6 or 7 on a given down could create some sack opportunities for them.
Here is a good example of something the Cowboys can do to exploit the Giants confusion when blocking against the blitz.
Dallas shows six pre-snap, only to drop Rolando McClain into coverage at the snap of the ball. Sean Lee is able to come in virtually untouched however, as they confuse the Washington front and running back with the stunt and blitz.
A call like this could do wonders against the Giants shaky pass-protection.
Giants Run Blocking
While we all know the Cowboys run primarily a zone blocking scheme, the Giants tend to mix it up a little more between zone and gap schemes. On this play, they try to run outside zone towards the field, but are stopped in the backfield for a big loss.
The backside guard gets beat right off the ball, taking a poor zone step and allowing immediate penetration. On the play-side, the tight end actually takes a solid first step and gets into decent positioning on the defensive end. But then he just gets manhandled, pushed into the backfield, and the play gets blown up.
What can the Cowboys do?
It's simple, get off the damn ball. All five of the offensive lineman are relatively slow off the ball, and get next to no push on the defensive line. They allow the Jets to re-establish the line of scrimmage. Penetration will kill any run play, but when you are trying to move as a single unit upfront and give the running back a two-way go, it is even more costly.
There have been a ton of questions surrounding this Cowboys defensive line, but if they cannot make plays this week, there might seriously be an issue.