NFL Week 2: Dallas Cowboys All-22 takeaways from win vs. Giants

09/18/2018
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The Dallas Cowboys defeated their division rival New York Giants handily n Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season. Quarterback Dak Prescott showed immense improvement from his showing in Week 1 and it was clear from the start of the game that he was much more comfortable in the pocket than he was in the season opener.

Here’s a look at my offensive film notes from Dallas’ Week 2 win:

Dallas Cowboys First Half Film Notes

-First play of the game, Dak Prescott completes a nine-yard pass to Allen Hurns on an RPO slant-flat concept out of a spread formation.

-Tavon Austin 64-yard TD, Dallas ran play-action from I-form with mirrored Go-routes vs man-free coverage. Austin quickly beat CB Jenkins with an inside release. Great ball placement from Dak.

-Ezekiel Elliott picks up 19-yards when the Dallas Cowboys run a duo concept. Connor Williams made a key block on the play against Dalvin Tomlinson.

-Next two plays were a 15-yard reverse by Tavon and 15-yard run by Dak on a read-option.

-Three of Dallas’ five explosive runs occurred on their second drive. The fourth on the next one.

-Cowboys’ O-line having a much better game early compared to Week 1.

-Biggest differences between this week to last week were the early shot plays and no offensive penalties to put them behind the chains.

-No surprise here, but Damon Harrison is one of the best run defenders in the league. His play strength is tough to beat.

-Dak 13 yards on 3rd-and-2 was another read-option, this time with sift motion by TE Swaim.

-Dak missed a wide-open Hurns on 2nd-and-10 late first quarter. Shallow cross from bunch vs a quarters coverage concept. He was a little too aggressive on this decision and missed an easy 1st down conversion. He’ll learn to better balance his aggressiveness and judiciousness over time.

-Next play on 3rd-and-10 was a deep shot to Gallup. Giants doubled Beasley in man-free coverage. Another well-placed ball by Dak but Gallup dropped it.

-Good pass rush design by Giants Def. Coordinator James Bettcher to end Cowboys’ fourth drive early second quarter. Showed seven men on the line, putting stress on the blocking scheme. Then sent only four and got a free rusher on Dak.

-Noticeable use of the slant-flat and curl-flat concepts by Dallas in the first half. Worked well for them.

-Bettcher mixed in some 2-high zone but the Giants were mostly a single high defense (man and zone).

-LB Alec Ogletree was key to disrupting the play at least twice. Once on counter/power run, and again on a failed tunnel screen to Zeke on 3rd-and-10 on last drive of half.

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Second Half

-I don’t have the actually numbers, but there definitely seemed to be a concerted effort to call more read-option and RPO-type plays for Dak.

-Dallas executed three outside zone runs in the game, all of them were to the weak side.

-Rico Gathers should’ve had a red zone TD. Giants sent a man-free blitz and Zeke got a piece of both rushers in the A-gap. Rico ran a Y-corner route and had beaten his man. Just an inaccurate throw from Dak.

-The timing on a couple of the RPO passes seemed slightly out of sync, partly because the defenders grew accustomed to the option-offense. Dak held onto the ball a half second too long each time. Almost led to an INT in the first half, could lead to one in the future.

-Connor Williams had a nice one-on-one base block of Damon Harrison on a Zeke four-yard run late third quarter. Showcased good hip strength and hand placement to control the DT.

-Cowboys ran an interesting jet sweep read-option shovel pass early fourth quarter. Similar play to a Bears’ TD Mon night, also a part of the Chiefs’ playbook. Only gained one yard for Dallas but shows Linehan’s willingness to use relatively “unconventional” concepts.

-A common fixture in Dallas’ passing scheme is to use an offset stack in the slot of the trips side.

-Zeke 19 yards mid-fourth quarter was a split zone run from a condensed formation. As pointed out by Cris Collinsworth, Giants lacked gap integrity as the run blitz sent two defenders to the same gap.

(Video Courtesy of Nick Turchyn – @Tmanic21)

https://vimeo.com/290219106

-Cowboys TEs had some tough times run blocking. It’s a tall task to have to take on a DE one-on-one but the scheme requires better consistency from them.

-Zeke six-yard TD was inside zone from read-option, the culmination of a 14-play, eight-minute drive. This is the core of how the team wants to operate: long drives ending in TDs.

-There wasn’t a single bootleg pass in the game. An interesting development as it’s a central part of the team’s offense. There were a few boot actions after the hand-off, though.

Conclusion

The Cowboys executed better overall. Linehan’s effort to seemingly utilize more option-type plays helped Prescott find his rhythm and settle him in the pocket. The quarterback displayed good ball placement for most of his passes and his decision making sound. Some miscues and penalties contributed to the stalled drives in the middle quarters. Hitting on the early deep shot to Tavon Austin was a clear boon to the team’s morale, as any big play would be.

 

You can follow Allan on Twitter at @AllanUy22

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