The Ryan D, Part 3: the Cowboys Sink Into the 46
In part two of our breakdown of Rob Ryan’s 3-4 we looked at gap control, and that Ryan played a predominantly one-gap system. Today, we’ll look at the front flexibility the 3-4 offers.
Here’s a short-yardage situation from Arizona’s first series in the Cowboys-Cards game from last year. Arizona faces a 3rd-and-1 on its own 20. The Cards have put in a “deuce” personnel set, something the Cowboys also call their 22 personnel package — two tight ends and two backs:
The Cowboys have their base 3-4 package in, but have made one critical adjustment. Because the Cards have only one receiver in the game, the Cowboys have removed one of their cornerbacks and replaced him with an extra linebacker. Dallas has a 3-5-3 in the game: the three linemen, two outside ‘backers, three inside backers, two safeties and one corner.
That’s the package. The front is a variation of Rob’s father Buddy Ryan’s 46. Some teams call this an Eagle front. Some call it sink. It can be walked into with a couple of simple adjustments to the odd 3-4 we saw before. Here’s the odd again:
The tight defensive front gave every man on the Dallas front single blocking and the slant call gave the play-makers like Ratliff and Hatcher the opportunity to use quickness and power to win the down. You won’t see the Cowboys sitting over blockers and waiting for the action to come at them. Their personnel isn’t built for that and it’s hardly Rob Ryan’s style.
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