Boys Play Like Men for the Cowboys D

I mellon-farming
LOVE my defense!

Several youngsters added steel to Rob Ryan’s Cowboys D against the Giants

Some defensive cut ups from a very impressive 2012 debut performance.

Greybeards no more!

We’ve all wondered the last 12 months if inside linebacker Bruce Carter was worth the investment.  He cost Dallas a 2nd round pick and kept the team waiting.  Would be be big enough to play inside, after playing the weakside in a 4-3 scheme?  Would he have the explosion that made him such a top prospect before he tore an ACL late in his senior season?

Last night showed a speedy, powerful complement to Sean Lee.  Here’s an early Giants power run which showed both inside backers at their best.  The Giants are trying to escape their own red zone and call power-O to their right.  Ahmad Bradshaw will follow right guard Chris Snee (76) and fullback Henry Hynoski (45) to the left edge:

Lee rushes in to stymie Snee, while Carter (54) stands up Hynoski and slides off the fullbacks block when Bradshaw tries bouncing to the outside:
Two major collisions in the hole.  Two wins by the Cowboys inside ‘backers.  No gain for the Giants.
Greybeards Forever!
I think most Cowboys fans were relieved to see the defense move beyond last year’s incumbent ILBs Bradie James and Keith Brooking.  Many of the same fans were eager to see the line discard the older vets Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears.  Rob Ryan and his line coach Brian Baker kept them, feeling they could trust the older hands in critical situations. 
Last night, the older guys combined with the kid nose tackles Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore to repel two Giants goal-line runs, when the score was 0-0.  Note the layout of Dallas’ goal-line front:
New York has three tight ends in the contest, but their strong side is their left, where Martellus Bennett (85) sits.  The Cowboys have DeMarcus Ware in a rare four-point stance head up against his old teammate.  Inside of Ware are the two nose tackles, Lissmore and Brent and on the weak-side the old ends Spears and Coleman.  The Giants want to pull left guard Kevin Boothe (77) out and have him and Henry Hynoski lead the back to the perimeter:
The Cowboys win this play across the line, starting with Ware.  Watch how he turns Bennett inside and stays on the tight end’s outside shoulder, turning the run back inside, where there’s fierce pursuit from Spears, who has avoided David Diehl’s (66) attempt at a cutback.  Spears leaps over a scrum and closes on Ahmad Bradshaw.  Look at Bradshaw’s predicament in sequence still three.  He’s surrounded by a ring of Cowboys:
 Spears arrives first, but Lee and Josh Brent quickly join Spears in the fun.  Another Giants run goes backwards:
Quick Thinking from the DC
The Giants tried catching Rob Ryan with a big pass on their 2nd possession.  They lined up Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in a left slot and had the two of them criss cross, with Nicks picking Brandon Carr.  The deep crossers are an old Tom Coughlin tactic.  Chris Palmer called them for Jimmy Smith when he was Coughlin’s OC in Jacksonville.  
The tactic worked effectively the first time Dallas saw it.  Rob Ryan had his corners in press, so Nicks was able to lock up Carr and Orlando Scrandrick.  Had Dallas blitzed and had a single safety deep, Cruz may have run up the left sideline for a score:
On subsequent series, Ryan and D-back coach Jerome Henderson had their corners play off the ball, meaning the outside Giants receiver could not engage a defender.  New York kept calling these scissors route combos but they never worked as well again:
Defensive Man of the MatchOrlando Scandrick.  Poor Orlando took a lot of media grief for his goal-line grab of Victor Cruz late in the 2nd quarter.  A review of the game reveals that Scandrick blanketed Victor Cruz for much of the game with strong, consistent underneath coverage.  Cruz helped with some drops, but Scandrick did a fine job on his own.  
Next:  A closer look at Jason Witten’s busy night.

Rafael Vela

Rafael Vela

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

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  • fiverings37

    We have a great chance with a D like this!!

  • fiverings37

    Plus another review shows Cruz pushing off on Scandrick on he same goal line play!

  • pkinsa

    Does anyone know the results of Costa’s MRI?
    what is his status? I am assuming he is out for the Seattle game.

    • daledoe

      They reported that there was no structural damage but that he is unlikely to play at Seattle.

  • Mandmeisterx

    I couldn’t get over how massive Bruce Carter looks. He’s almost OLB size. I think I first noticed this in the camp pictures you posted when he was standing next to Adrian Hamilton and just dwarfed him. Pretty impressive that he is able to run the way he can at his size. Just one game, but a very promising start for young Mr. Carter.

    • joey2zs

      He’s gigantic. I can’t believe how big that kid is.

  • jarhead

    A couple other notes after watching the game again: the cowboys as a team appeared confident and “all business” throughout the game. A few limited individual celebrations after a nice play, and the normal high fives but overall they appeared very focused/difficult to rattle. There appeared to be little confusion in the defense as opposed to last year.

    Another interesting note, I always set the dvr to run extra in case a game goes into OT and it caught the post game interview with romo, ogletree and ware. Oglestree said all the “right” things in the interview and I noted at one point romo smiling and nodding in approval as if he recognized a repeating of something that had been said to the team or the player earlier. I believe someone has mentored ogletree and prepared him for such things, perhaps romo himself. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    I saw nothing to change my hint of optimism going forward, and I attribute the team’s game time demeanor to JG’s approach in the off-season.

    • Taylor

      Completely agree, and it is JG. This may have been the first real offseason program and training camp since Jimmy left. I love the business-like approach from the team.

  • Greg

    I remember the running play that Carter stopped. At the time I could only see the ‘4’ on his jersey so I thought “Nice play Ware.” Then I realized it was a ’54’ not a ’94’ and thought “Wow if Carter can do that consistently we’re going to be in great shape.”

  • FakeBillyTubbs

    Couple questions for you Raf. I saw a defensive alignment (I think it was early in the fourth) with Lissemore as the wide end on the weak side, outside the T’s shoulder, almost as if he were playing an OLB role. There looked to be 3 DTs on the line. The play went to the opposite side, but what was this was all about? I’ve never seen or heard it talked about. Looks to be dangerous if Lissemore should be called on to cover a back or TE.

    Second, on Bradshaw’s big run in the 4th, there appeared to be a big breakdown in assignments. At the snap, Lee cut to his right for apparently no reason instead of rushing up to fill the gap where the run was headed. When Bradshaw burst through, he was way out of position to make the tackle. He was fast enough to catch up to Bradshaw down the field thanks to Sensi’s attempted tackle, but what the hell? Was this Lee’s brain fart, or was he expecting the safety to be down where run eventually went?

    • DW94

      On Bradshaw’s run, it looked like Gilbride made a nice call. Dallas blitzed hard to NYG’s left – Spencer took Locklear wide and Church came down. Scandrick, who covered Cruz in the slot at the snap, blitzed as well. I think Lee was supposed to drop into a zone to prevent/deter a quick pass to Cruz (Silva was over the top to provide support); that’s why he couldn’t get over to the right side to tackle Bradshaw. I could be wrong – just my impression after watching the play again.

      I wonder if Ryan anticipated NY running slants because Ware also made a zone drop to the right side (where Carr was on Nicks).

      • FakeBillyTubbs

        Good call. Still seems very odd to leave a huge portion of the field uncovered.

        • greatwhitenorth

          It’s only been odd ever since Wade left town…

  • WARE94

    The D lloked solid all game. I think the ILB play has really improved as a until as compared to last year. The Safety play too! Church looking really solid so far. I’m still worried about the OL holding up but they were playing the giants & did fairly well. No drop off when Cook was inserted. If this team can stay health then they should be in the mix at the end.

  • jarhead

    With the old refs, I would have no confidence that dallas could run such a “pick” play and not get called for a penalty. They have been called for doing such things in the past while the other team would do the same thing and not get called. This is why I am hoping the nfl goes with the replacements, I want a fresh start with officials.

    On scandrick, one of cruz’s big drops came against him in the 2nd. Scandrick never saw the ball, he turned his head about the time the ball passed him. He got lucky that time…..I wonder what happens with jenkins now…..will they sit scandrick for him?

    • FakeBillyTubbs

      Dallas gets called for picks when Witten is about 7 yards downfield doing it. I’ve never seen them called at the line.

      • jarhead

        Yes, these are the plays I referenced. Im ok with refs calling us for it, but not ok with the same refs then letting the other team do it, either on purpose or by missing it.

        • FakeBillyTubbs

          Well, what I’m saying is that I think there’s a difference between doing it at the line and further downfield. Mike Periera tweeted that it’s within the rules to pick within 1 yard of the LOS.

          • FakeBillyTubbs

            Mike Pereira ‏@MikePereira
            Talking about pick plays, it is legal to pick a defender off as long as you are not more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage.

          • jarhead

            Like I said, im ok with witten getting flagged, im not ok with the other team not getting flagged for doing the same thing. Put another way, it would not have shocked me if the old school refs had flagged dallas for doing the same thing the gints did wed night. It would further not have shocked me if pereira had tweeted something defending them for enforcing the rule differently and making an excuse for why they called it the way they did. This is where my confidence sits with all these “established” ref’s objectivity, and this is why i’d like to see the new refs get the job. We’ll see how they do Sunday and Monday night. If the new refs do a good job, I say make it a done deal with them.

    • I’m a Cowboy

      Did not cross my mind until you posted it, but your right. I also want a fresh start at least these new refs wouldn’t be as easily prejudes by some teams to get calls.

    • Fan since 1966

      I don’t watch MLB or NBA because I can’t stand the officiating (umpires with their own “private” strike zones, Joey Crawford and his vendetta against Tim Duncan, etc etc). NFL zebras are biased for (Patriots, Giants, Steelers) and against (Raiders, Cowboys) certain teams, but that’s just a reflection of office politics everwhere: peons tending to know and do what pleases the top-floor execs (NFL brass in NYC, in this case). At least the bias is not quite as blatant in football as it is in the other leagues….

      • joey2zs

        I cannot disagree more strongly. I’ve never seen any bias against the Cowboys, save for the season when they led the league in penalties, because the bias was – “This team sucks and is undisciplined” – and therefore so-so plays got calls because officials expected their eyes to see penalties. And they were right. Ask Flozell what I’m talking about.
        Ware IS always offsides. Witten DID hold.
        Disciplined teams do not commit penalties and therefore officials tend to not see their penalties, and undisciplined teams force the officials to pay more attention. And, as a fan, YOU see what you want to see through your biased filters.
        If you’re suggesting that the NFL cooks games in order to support big market teams, then you’re talking about the potential dissolution of a $15 to $20 billion industry and hundreds of men and women will be spending many decades in Federal penitentiaries for massive racketeering, fraud and conspiracy charges.
        Ditto commentators. I don’t hear any biases against the Cowboys from play by play guys. The only bias of note I can think of is Aikman’s PRO-Cowboy stance.

        • jarhead

          This a question of perspective and opinion. I cannot prove there IS bias against the cowboys on the part of the old refs, or the nfl; and you cannot prove there is NOT.

          I also hold no illusion that it does not exist in pro sports, and in some cases is even endorsed. Example: i have heard the NBA commish make a case for foul calls being made different for that league’s big stars, and he was completely serious and untroubled about it.

          At no time have I read anything here that suggests the nfl “cooks” anything. If the nfl is biased, it is first and formost so toward making money.

        • greatwhitenorth

          Theismann? Simms? Jaworski, Strahan, Faulk, Harrison…

          • joey2zs

            Strahan, Faulk, and Theismann don’t do play by play… and when Theismann did I don’t recall bias, same with Simms and Jaworski… both of whom LOVE Romo.
            And as studio analysts, they’re each free to be fans against Dallas, as I am free to be a fan for Dallas. They were involved, so they have more reason than I to hold opinions. Wilbon and Scott Van Pelt are both aggressively anti-Cowboys as well.
            Most of them hate the gigantic Cowboys media coverage, and the obvious bias in favor of Cowboys coverage. The Cowboys generate more attention than other franchises and they resent it. I get it. Cowboys media is ubiquitous. People get tired of it and there’s a backlash. I’m surprised that more media types don’t consciously try to diminish national Cowboys coverage.
            So, again, during play by play by national TV commentators, I don’t think I’ve ever heard bias. And, I don’t understand those who do… to wit: on that other blog during the game, there were 50 to 100 posts about Collinsworth’s anti-Cowboys bias and how it ruins the coverage, and how they can only listen to the Cowboys’ radio team (You know, the Cowboys employees who are by necessity biased).

            And, I don’t understand those who resent the reaction to Cowboys media over saturation.

          • jarhead

            the media has the same bottom line as the NFL: making money.

            why would its employees diminish coverage of the cowboys? they know people will tune in, whether it is good or bad coverage.

            this is why i prefer the sports blog to the traditional sports media. the true analysis of the game is far better IMO. if i want to read about “controversy” in the locker room, i can look to the regular sports media, that is apparently what sells these days.

            as to bias against the cowboys, or for them…i think JJ is the prime reason. like him or hate him, you cant ignore him. he is an extremely polarizing figure. and he is the face of the franchise, which is just how he wants it.

            now, i hate that about him, but he has as much chance of changing as a cow does of sprouting wings and flying to the moon.

            So we’re stuck with him.

            but i’ll give an example of how polarizing he is. the harbaugh brother who coaches the ravens said, in the last three years, that JJ is an example of “everything thats wrong in the NFL.”

            that was a head coach in the league, publicly making that comment. he later called JJ and apologized, but there is no doubt in my mind that he truly believes what he says. And i doubt he is the only one.

            who knows? maybe others in positions of power and influence in the league, even some officials, feel that way too. Or maybe it is just plain old jealousy as old as time. and if they feel that way for whatever reason, its hard for me to trust that they will be fair in any decision that effects the cowboys.

        • Fan since 1966

          Have you been living in a cave in Afghanistan for the last five years, Joey? From the looting of “segragated” customer money at MF Global and other trading firms to massive criminal behavior by all the TBTF banks in the housing scam all the way up to illegal manipulation of markets by central banks (“Liborgate”), blatant corruption is rampant in the US today — and NOBODY of any standing has been punished at all for any of it. The rule of law is dead. There would be absolutely no legal repercussions for the NFL choosing to “enhance its product appeal” to its biggest customers, the TV networks. And if you think a multibillion $$$ industry that is intimately involved with betting (from office pools to local bookies to Las Vegas with its well-known criminal affiliations) doesn’t attract the usual cast of powerful psychopaths intent on taking their slice of the pie by any and alll means, then you are naive beyond belief….

          • joey2zs

            Then I’m naive beyond belief. As much as you are conspiratorial beyond belief. If results are being cooked, then how does it make sense that the Cowboys come out on the short end of the stick? Jerry’s scruples prevent him from winning at all costs?

        • elharpo

          I agree with you to an limited extent. I don’t think there is a concerted effort against the cowboys from the refs. But Ware is not always offsides. It may be a 50/50 split on whether the call is right or not. Also, there is plenty of anti-cowboy pandering from the commentators and the media. There aren’t many/any teams that have more people that love to hate them than they have fans. Anti-cowboy pandering is big business.

  • great note on scandrick, was curious to know how he performed. great problem to have, but i am very intrigued to see how the cowboys make use of mike jenkins now.

  • Yuma Cactus

    After watching the condensed game again last night, I was very impressed with the entire Defensive front 7. Particularly Spencer and Carter (Ware & Lee are a given). I thought the pick should have been called as he lowered his shoulder and “blocked” both guys.
    One more thought. DeMarvelous Murray is going to have some DB’s making “business decisions” along the way. He blasted Kiwanuka, Rolle and Blackburn.

    • FakeBillyTubbs

      Yeah, I just hope Murray doesn’t end up going the way of Marion Barber.

      • greatwhitenorth

        I don’t much care, as long as Jerry doesn’t give him Barber money a year before he does. When’s the last time a “franchise RB” won a championship?

        • pkinsa

          Last year. Eli won for the Giants

  • Adam McC

    I was really happy with the Bruce/Lee combo. The Dragon Entered and brought its fists of fury.

    • fiverings37

      Conner, grab some bench.

  • Johnny Cage

    I noticed on the 2n goal line run that Ware &the Spencer were paired. How often do the Boys deploy them in this way? Rarely, right?

  • Frank Punch

    it’s unclear to me—but to your knowledge, did the Giants legally exercise the so-called scissor pattern combination? or was that an illegal pick?

    a lot of fans were complaining that the refs missed it. and it is one of the harder penalties to spot, imo. if i had to guess from the image you provide, Nicks (?) is working inside pretty naturally. it looks like he’s trying to run his route and not just get in the way; also, they’re still pretty close to the LOS, in that 5 yard area where contact is generally permitted.

    thanks. good work.

    • kameleon_o

      That’s what I thought. That play was effective not so much because of the Giants, but because of the illegal pick that sprung it.

    • This is a pattern of plays that a lot of teams run. I’ve seen college teams run it effectively. It’s surprisingly hard to defend. And it’s clear that New York was hoping to catch Ryan in a blitz on that 1st one. Had Ryan not had his safeties playing halves it could have been a TD, because I don’t think a single S playing centerfield could have reached the sideline.

      But think to New York’s 1st play. A max protect deep fade vs. Claiiborne. Ryan was ready for this kind of thing because he had Church playing right behind his rookie.

      Ryan has this reputation for being a mad blitzer, but to me that was Wade, especially when things started to go sour. When he can do things his way, Ryan mixes it up. He threw a lot of 3-man rushes with combo coverages at Eli Wednesday, and they worked because guys like Anthony Spencer busted their butts to create pressure from those 3-man lines.

    • ware94

      That was an illegal pick.