What They (Try to) Do: The Cowboys Running Play of the Day

The Cowboys have several classes of runs they call for their backs.  They have several zone blocking runs, several draws and an entire run of counter technique runs.

I’ve posted a few from the past.  Three we’ve covered, counter, power and F-counter, all run to the strong side, pulling two blockers, the weak-side guard and a second blocker, sometimes the weak-side tackle and sometimes the F-back, to lead the running back to the strong-side edge.  Today, we look at a counter that runs to the weak side.

Stutter left

Every counter play runs from a number of formations.  Stutter runs from a number of spread sets.  On this play Dallas opens in a 12 personnel package, and deploys the two tight ends in a bunch formation on the right:

Before the snap, John Phillips motions back into the backfield, leaving Dallas in a jack right set:

The original bunch set has the Bills defense expecting a pass.  Note their strong side backer is flexed into the right slot with Jason Witten, and they have just six defenders in the box.  With Phillips in the backfield the Cowboys have six blockers for DeMarco Murray.

As with all the other counter calls, Murray takes a false step to the strong side, to draw the linebackers that way and give his blockers better angles.   You can see the blocking designs on the open side.  Left tackle Doug Free is going up-field to take on the middle linebacker.  Left guard Montrae Holland is blocking down on the defensive tackle over him, while center Phil Costa seals out the strong-side DT.

Right guard Kyle Kosier is pulling down the line and will try to trap the defensive end, whom Free has left uncovered.  F-back Phillips will then lead Murray in the lane between Free and Kosier.  If he can stand up the weak-side linebacker, Murray will have an open path into the secondary.

Dallas has run through the entire counter series since Murray has become the starter, as they are some of his better runs.  By running similar plays to the weak and strong side, from a number of formations, they keep the blocking assignments easy for their linemen, while making play recognition a bit harder for their opponents.

Next:  Dallas runs power from a spread look, and closes out the Miami game.

Rafael Vela

Rafael Vela

Senior Analyst Cowboys Nation.com at Sports Talk Line
Started covering Dallas Cowboys @ TheBoys.com in '95 and '96. Two more stops along the way and here I am. Senior Analyst for SportsTalkLine.com
Rafael Vela

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  • Big Jibbs

    Raf, you are a BEAST dude. Youre like th emost informative guy on the net PERIOD. Better than any of the DC Boys real full time analyst, or National guys…Im serious man….You get PROPS from all the real fans….
    Now with that being saying…WE NEED MORE..hahaaa..Its like we cant get enough of this good stuff. Very, very insightful stuff.

    • Jarhead

      you mean you dont like the DMN approach…where they have a “chat” with fans and pawn off their responses as headlines?

    • Raja

      Raf, to second, for someone that has never played a down of football, you are god-sent.  You, Bob Sturm and Broaddus (& Mayock when I can watch him) are the reasons for my knowledge of football X’s and O’s.

      I thank the day couple of years ago that I stumbled on to your work at BTB and the Sturminator’s site.

  • Raja

    Raf, not to hijack the thread, but wanted to bring this to fellow fans –


    The money quote (by Jason La Confora)

    » Jeff Fisher would be very attractive to the Cowboys or Giants — he is very close to ownership there and those jobs would be appealing to him, according to sources. One of them could open up. He’d be a natural fit in either, and he doesn’t bring a designated general manager or personnel guy with him, which fits both models there (Dallas doesn’t have one, and the Giants are very pleased with the work of Jerry Reese).

    Is he a flame thrower or what?  This is what passes for journalism.

    • Jarhead

      As a D-coordinator maybe….JG is not going anywhere, last i checked his team is leading the division.
      I used to do this thing on one of Rafael’s old sites called “bash a mediot” or something like that.
      Guess this one would have qualified.