Connect with us

Dallas Cowboys

Film Room: Can This Play-Design Revitalize Cowboys Offense?

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott

Sunday night was bad, you don't need me to tell you that. But, it was particularly bad for the Cowboys offense, who could not seem to find any sort of rhythm throughout the entire game.

Of course we all know about their struggles in the passing game. Dak Prescott had his worst day of the season, Dez Bryant had a key fumble, and the other receivers just couldn't seem to get open.

One thing the Cowboys should always be able to depend on, however, is their rushing attack. Running behind the best offensive line in all of football, Ezekiel Elliott should almost always find a way to make an impact on the ground.

Despite rushing for over 100 yards Sunday night, Elliott's performance against the New York Giants still felt lackluster. Something still felt missing. To be honest, it felt like a 100 yard performance from Darren McFadden a season ago, when the yards simply didn't feel as impactful.

After struggling offensively for consecutive weeks, many are calling for a quarterback change. Possibly the strongest argument for sticking with Dak is his dual-threat ability, and his ability to run the zone read option. Unfortunately, the Cowboys refuse to use this play-design often, and I think more utilization of the zone read could help to revitalize their offense in the coming weeks.

DALNYG2 zone read - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When they did run zone read on Sunday night, the result looked like this. Dak's read slows down the Giants defensive end, forcing him to honor the quarterback as a runner. This slight hesitation by the defender allows Elliott to be patient, use a jump cut, and find the hole for a nice gain.

Dak's fake makes the defensive end look absolutely silly, and considering this play was run earlier in the first half, I was surprised to see them not go back to it later in the game.

DALNYG2 zone read 3 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This play is not a zone read, is simply an outside (or wide) zone play. Elliott is designed to get the ball, taking any reads out of Dak's hands. As you can see, the play doesn't work very well here, as the backside defensive end crashes down the line of scrimmage hard to make the play.

Had Dak been given the option to pull the ball here, I am willing to bet that he could have made a big play. The lateral movement of the offensive line gives the linebackers a wide-zone read, and with the backside end crashing so hard, Dak might have had a nice gain.

Even if the play remained a designed give, simply holding the fake for an extra split second would have slowed down Olivier Vernon, and given Zeke a chance to make a play.

DALNYG2 zone read 2 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Zone read is not perfect, however, especially when your playside blockers get beat. Here we see the rare occasion that Tyron Smith gets beat, and Vernon gets into the backfield to disrupt the play.

Still, you can see how the defensive end must freeze to honor Dak's ability to pull and run. Dak makes the wrong read here, however, which when combined with a missed block on the playside, spells disaster for the offense.

I am not suggesting that running the zone read more often will fix every problem with this team, nor am I suggesting that the Cowboys run Dak into the ground similar to how Washington did with Robert Griffin. But, if you are going to sit a veteran quarterback in favor of Dak Prescott, you might as well use all of his abilities to your advantage.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator

John Williams

Published

on

It Is Time for the Dallas Cowboys to Move on From Tony Romo

The pipe dream has been going on since former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback-turned CBS Analyst Tony Romo hung up his cleats for the black blazer. Fans from all corners of Cowboys Nation have clamored for a return to the field or at worst the sideline as the Cowboys offensive coordinator.

Let me stop you right there. It's not happening.

First of all. He's never been a coach at any level of football, so to assume that he could leave the broadcast booth and step into coaching an NFL offense and doing so at a high level is a huge leap of faith in number 9. Sure, Jon Gruden left the Monday Night Football booth for his lucrative deal with the Oakland Raiders, but he had won a Super Bowl and had been an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL for years before joining the broadcasting ranks.

Tony Romo has an excellent understanding of football. He displays it on a regular basis during the CBS broadcasts. But doing from the broadcast view, seeing what the defense is trying to do, and calling the plays to counter what the defense is trying to do are very different things.

Secondly, the coaching job would be a major time commitment that at the moment he doesn't have. Even if he's working a 40 hour work week in preparation for his three-hour time slot, the demands on NFL coaches are easily twice that with many coaches putting in 100 hour work weeks in preparation for Sundays. Tony Romo has a family that even he's talked about as part of the reason that he went into broadcasting instead of looking to hop on with another NFL team.

Finally, the job would mean a significant pay cut from what Romo is already making. It's estimated that the former Cowboys quarterback is making anywhere from $5-10 million dollars a year with CBS. Jason Garrett is making $6 million per year as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, so even if the Jones family was willing to pay first-time NFL coach Tony Romo a ton of money to come out of the broadcast booth, there's zero chance they pay him what he's making as a broadcaster. To do so, would be to undercut the head coach. Jason Garrett is Jerry Jones' guy. The owner and general manager wants Garrett to be the guy that leads the Cowboys to Super Bowl success, so there's zero chance he'd pay a coordinator close to Garrett's money, which would lead to constant speculation about the head coach and his future with the organization.

I love Tony Romo. His jersey is one of only two Cowboys jerseys that I own -- along with Darren Woodson -- and I think he could make a good coach one day, but I'd be hard pressed to see him come out of the coaching booth to take a coordinator job and have immediate success. The guys that are offensive coordinators in the NFL have been grinding for years to earn their jobs. Most started as position coaches -- see Sean McVay as Redskins TE coach. The Dallas Cowboys will spend the next few days, and perhaps weeks, identifying their replacement for Scott Linehan, but let's put to bed the dream of Romo as offensive coordinator.

It's just not going to happen.



Continue Reading

Player News

Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



Continue Reading

Dallas Cowboys

Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways

John Williams

Published

on

Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.

Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.

The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.

Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.

Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.

In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.

This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan

Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.

The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.

Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending