Chiefs 17, Cowboys 16: Bitten by the Bear
|Dez drops Dallas’ best chance for a comeback.|
The Cowboys problems with pressure 3-4s continued yesterday. New Chiefs coordinator Bob Sutton, a long-time Rex Ryan assistant, used parts of Ryan’s philosophy, most notably Buddy Ryan’s Bears front, to frustrate the Cowboys rushing attack, holding Dallas to 61 total yards. He further mixed some of Rex’s signature overload blitzes and some aggressive coverage to frustrate Dallas’ passing attack.
What resulted was a replay of some hard road losses from recent years. The 17-10 loss in Denver in week four of ’09 was most typical. Sutton had the element of surprise on his side, and a strong interior front which made big plays at key points in the game. Nose tackle Dontari Poe contributed two sacks which short-circuited Cowboys drives The first put the brakes on Dallas’ opening drive and forced a field goal. The second, which I’ll review in detail below, stopped the Cowboys when they were ready to score a touchdown on their opening series of the 2nd half.
Two games is not a trend, but it’s the beginning of a trend, and the most concerning feature of the 2013 Cowboys has been their inability to muster a rushing attack. This week they faced a number of eight and nine man fronts, but the weak totals, combined with last week’s inability to get a push against seven man Giants fronts, has to be the main topic this week in the offensive coaches’ meetings.
Sutton used a common stem in the Ryan 3-4, one which Wade Phillips used in Dallas from time to time, which lets a 3-4 easily shift into a Bear 4-3. Here’s how it looks in diagram form and here’s how the Chiefs executed it on the first scrimmage play of the 2nd half:
Here’s a base 3-4 front, with the ends and the nose tackle two-gapping against the center and offensive tackles, playing head up against their offensive counterparts and looking for plays to either gap to their left or right. This look can be changed into a Bear by having both DEs slide one player inside, each going from head over a tackle to a guard. The strong side inside backer, the Ted or T, will line up in the C cap between the strong-side tackle and the tight end, while the strong outside linebacker, the S, steps outside the TE to bracket him. The strong safety, SS, will walk up and play the Ted’s role, as the second inside linebacker. The weak safety will drop into the deep middle. You go from this:
And here it is in the flesh:
Kansas City is in a 3-4 look with the strong safety creeping up to put eight defenders in the box. Notice both DEs to the NT Poe’s left and right are standing. They are lined up across from the OTs, but when the ILB on the near hash mark walks up, both DEs pinch over the guards:
This puts three men over your center and guards, while over-shifting towards the tight ends’ side. You’re facing an 8-man front with press coverage on the outside. Kansas City mixed this front with a 2-4-5 look with two down linemen and four linebackers and blitzed from it regularly. That heavy beef and movement gummed up Dallas’ inside runs. Only once, on a Lance Dunbar cutback, did Dallas get heavy push on a running play.
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