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Film Room: How Packers Exploited Cowboys On The Ground

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Packers Exploited Cowboys On The Ground
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the 2017 season, we all knew what the Dallas Cowboys were. They were (and are) a team which must rely on an efficient, ball control offense in order to win games and keep their sub-par defense off the field as much as possible.

Simple enough, right?

Largely due to the lack of offensive efficiency, and some injuries on the defensive side of the ball, the 2017 Cowboys have underachieved. They haven't underachieved where we thought they would, though.

Last season the Cowboys were near the top of the league in terms of rush yards against. Of course, this isn't the best way to truly measure a defense's effectiveness, but it was a fact nonetheless. So far this season the Cowboys have allowed 590 rushing yards through five games, ranking 20th in the league.

There are a lot of reasons for these defensive struggles against the run. Up the middle, the loss of defensive tackle Terrell McClain has proved vital, as Stephen Paea has been getting driven off the ball a ton, clouding the linebackers' reads.

Those same linebackers have also been, well, bad. Jaylon Smith doesn't look himself, Kyle Wilber and Justin Durant haven't really impressed, and without Anthony Hitchens or Sean Lee the past two weeks, this unit has really struggled.

Last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers gashed the Cowboys off tackle on more than one occasion. So, I decided to break down the film to see why this defense is giving up so many long runs off the edge.

dalvsgb run d - Streamable

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On the opening drive of the game, the Packers came out and immediately tested the right side of the Cowboys' defense. Using a pin and pull technique, the tight end down blocks on Tyrone Crawford as the left tackle pulls around.

Kyle Wilber operates as the SAM on this play. Taking a false read, Wilber undercuts the down block and allows Aaron Jones a clear path to the outside. When your SAM and your defensive end both lose contain, the play is going to look a lot like this.

Crawford has struggled a lot this year in these situations. He simply cannot get blocked so cleanly by tight ends if he is going to be an effective run defender. Crawford is primarily out there to play the run, but if teams are going to continue to abuse the edge like this, a change will need to be made.

dalvsgb run d 2 - Streamable

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

Here is an example of Aaron Jones utilizing his vision to beat the Cowboys defense. But, still, the Cowboys are at fault here as well.

The Packers are trying to run right between the left guard and tackle. This is a pretty basic "Power" play, with the tackle and tight end doubling to the second level, the playside guard blocking down, and the backside guard pulling through.

Reading the offensive line, all three linebackers try to fill the hole which has been created. Also trying to close the hole is Crawford, who attempts to rip down a gap later on in the play.

With Kyle Wilber and Tyrone Crawford committing inside to the b-gap so early, Jones is able to cut outside and find clear running room. Then, Byron Jones takes a poor angle, and Aaron Jones is off to a big gain.

dalvsgb run d 4 - Streamable

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

Let's watch an example of the Cowboys correctly defending the edge against the run.

Once again the Packers go with a pin and pull technique on the playside. They also pull the playside guard. Taco Charlton is at right defensive end here, and he does a nice job of shedding the tight end and keeping his outside shoulder clean.

Because he wins against the tight end, the pulling guard must work back inside and seal Charlton. Kyle Wilber also scrapes to the outside instead of getting caught inside the tight end. Although the other blocks are made, the Cowboys are now left with Orlando Scandrick one-on-one with the running back.

This just comes down to making a great individual effort, which is exactly what Scandrick does on this particular play.

The Cowboys defense has not been good enough against the run or the pass, but after watching the film, I'm convinced some of it can be fixed by current personnel. By getting Sean Lee back, and hopefully seeing less of Tyrone Crawford at RDE, the Cowboys can get their defense back in the right direction.



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.

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1 Comment
  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    Seriously? Like it was hard to expose that team? They have a puppet for a HC and the GM is a joke…. it’s not a team….. it’s a punchline.

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Time to see What Darius Jackson can do as Zeke’s Backup?

Brian Martin

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Will RB Darius Jackson Stick With Cowboys Second Time Around?

I hate to say it because I really like Rod Smith, but I think it may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to reevaluate the running back position as it pertains to Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup. Smith just hasn't been good this year, which is why I think it may be time to see what Darius Jackson can do if given the opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting the Dallas Cowboys move on from Rod Smith or demote him right now, but I would promote Darius Jackson from the practice squad to the active roster as insurance in case something were to happen to Zeke. It just seems the right time to make that move after #21's injury scare Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles.

You may have forgotten, but Ezekiel Elliott had to spend some time in the medical tent Sunday against the Eagles. He was luckily able to return to the game not long after, but it did shine a spotlight on Rod Smith and the lack of depth behind him.

Despite how much I like Rod Smith, and I do, he just hasn't been the same player this season as he was last year as Zeke's fill-in. He is just not running with any kind of authority and has been too apt to run east and west instead of north and south. I think it's one of the reasons why the Cowboys have continued to give Zeke such a heavy workload, despite him being banged up.

Rod Smith

Dallas Cowboys RB Rod Smith

Now, Rod Smith did look a little better against the Eagles, but I still believe it would be wise for the Cowboys to promote Darius Jackson to the active roster. Having more depth at such a physically demanding position is just smart football.

With the Dallas Cowboys playoff spot all but secured, it might be time to start thinking about lightening Ezekiel Elliott's workload just a little bit. Whether it's Rod Smith or Darius Jackson, the Cowboys have to find someone who can step in and be productive.

Rod Smith has had his opportunities this year, but hasn't really been able to capitalize like we believed he could. It might be time to turn to Darius Jackson, a fan favorite, who unfortunately just hasn't been able to prove what he can do as of yet in a meaningful game. I think it's time we change that.

As much as I like Rod Smith, I might like Darius Jackson just a little bit more. I think he is kind of like a poor man's Ezekiel Elliott. He is just as athletically gifted and can be a threat as both a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. He just needs the opportunity to prove it.

There's really no way of knowing if I'm right or wrong about this, but I believe he is worthy of a roster spot on game day if nothing else. I'd rather have him and not need him then need him and not have him.

Do you think it's time to see what Darius Jackson can do?



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Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

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Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

Well don’t look now but the Dallas Cowboys are in control of their division and anything short of a catastrophic collapse will see them hosting the first round of the playoffs. Dallas strengthened their grip on the NFC East by knocking off a divisional rival and the reigning Super Bowl champions with a 29-23 overtime win over the Eagles.

Those who have a favorite online sportsbook and wagered on the Cowboys were ecstatic to see Dak Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a 15-yard touchdown pass in overtime, thus covering the 3 ½ point impost that oddsmakers hung on Dallas.

The Cowboys have now won five consecutive games, with three of those over divisional opponents Philadelphia (twice) and Washington. But before we celebrate, we must consider that there's still a mathematical possibility of either Philadelphia or Washington stealing the division crown away from the Cowboys.

The Giants' only hope is an outside shot at a wildcard berth if they win outright but they've been eliminated from contending for a division title due to their 1-4 record against NFC East teams.

Essentially, all the Cowboys must do is win one of their three remaining games in order to celebrate a division crown. If Philadelphia or Washington loses any of their three games they will be out due to tie breakers that go in the Cowboys’ favor.

As of this moment, the Redskins are a disaster with no one under center to captain their rudderless ship, and the Eagles must defeat the Rams in LA, which would be considered a stunning upset seeing as any reputable online sportsbook is offering the Rams as 9 ½ point favorites as of this writing; then they must win at home against Houston and on the road against the Redskins.

Of course, the Cowboys are counting only on themselves to reel in the division title and with games at Indianapolis, home against the Bucs, and wrapping their season in New Jersey against the Giants, at least one win seems likely.

The addition of Amari Cooper to the Dallas offensive arsenal has been a game-changer as the former Oakland Raider hauled in 10 of 13 targets for 217 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner last Sunday against Philadelphia. He was the top-tier receiver Prescott had been lacking and his presence on the field improves both the passing game and running game by virtue of his dynamic playmaking abilities. Ezekiel Elliott has eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in four of the six games since Cooper has been on the Cowboys roster.

Furthermore, Dallas has averaged 24.4 points per game over their last five wins with Cooper in the lineup, which is more than five points improved from where they were prior to their winning streak without him in a Dallas uniform.

In addition, Prescott has morphed from a game manager at 202 passing yards per game to a game breaker as evidenced by his 285.7 passing yard average in six games with his new target at his disposal.

Ultimately, the Cowboys will be tasked with turning all of this good mojo into a deep run into the postseason. We can now confidently say that there is one other team to consider besides the Rams, Bears, and Saints as this year’s NFC entrant into the Super Bowl. However, Dak Prescott will need to eliminate turnovers and interceptions if Dallas is truly going to contend against the powerhouses they will face in the playoffs.

Last Sunday, Prescott caught fire in the fourth quarter and ended with 455 yards passing, connecting on 42 of 54 passes with three touchdowns, but his two interceptions were converted into nine points by Philadelphia. As we move forward, Prescott will need to lead right from the get-go and understand that one poor decision can cost his team what is now a realistic shot at a championship season.



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Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Revenge Against Atlanta Hinges on These 3 Key Matchups 1

Cuando los Dallas Cowboys sorprendieron a la NFL mandando una selección de primera ronda por el receptor Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, la respuesta fue muy dividida. Al final de cuentas, Cooper estaba pasando por una temporada bastante mala junto a su equipo. Sus números iban en decline y muchos habían perdido la fe en la ex-estrella de la universidad de Alabama y cuarta selección global en el NFL Draft del 2015.

Pero sorpresa, sorpresa. Desde que se unió a las filas de los Dallas Cowboys, Amari Cooper ha demostrado que la decisión que tomaron los Jones fue una muy buena.

En esta liga, es muy complicado justificar el deshacerse de un pick de primera ronda.

Estamos hablando de la oportunidad de tomar a un novato joven con muchísimo potencial para convertirse en un jugador calibre All-Pro en algún punto de su carrera. No es fácil renunciar a una posibilidad así en esta liga. Sin embargo, Amari Cooper no ha hecho más que justificar el trade por parte de los Cowboys. Si continúa así, al final de la temporada podríamos estar hablando de que Dallas pagó de menos por él.

Es importante recalcar que Amari Cooper tiene 24 años de edad. Para el NFL Draft del 2019, los mejores prospectos en esta posición tienen a lo mucho cuatro años menos. A.J. Brown de Ole Miss tendrá 21 años cuando pise el emparrillado por primera vez en la NFL.

Y no, ninguno de estos receptores está cerca del nivel de talento con el que cuenta Cooper.

#DALvsPHI: Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott Key to Clipping the Eagles Wings?

¿Qué tan grande ha sido el impacto de Amari Cooper?

Desde la semana 9, cuando los Cowboys consiguieron a Cooper, este ha tenido 30 recepciones. 23 de las cuales han resultado en un primer down o en un touchdown. Es el receptor con más atrapadas en tercera oportunidad. Podríamos hablar de las grandes estadísticas que el wide receiver ha conseguido vistiendo la estrella individualmente. Pero realmente, ha tenido un impacto en la ofensiva entera.

Desde su llegada, los Cowboys son el tercer mejor equipo en porcentaje de pases completos, el segundo en yardas después de la recepción y el tercero a la hora de convertir terceras oportunidades y mover las cadenas.

Simple y sencillamente, ha tenido un impacto que ningún otro novato del 2019 hubiera tenido en este equipo. Si, los Cowboys tendrán que pagarle una extensión cara en el futuro, pero cuando este sea el caso, lo habrá valido.

Amari Cooper es el ejemplo perfecto de porque la NFL es un deporte de equipo. Con los Raiders, todos lo tachaban como un jugador que ya no era bueno e iba para abajo. Pero bajo los Dallas Cowboys, se ve como un jugador que promete mucho para esta joven franquicia que necesitaba un verdadero #1 en la posición de wide receiver.

La ofensiva de los Cowboys tiene mucho talento. Es cuestión de mejorar en zona roja para que Dallas sea una amenaza bastante considerable en los playoffs de la NFL.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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