Breakdown: Defense vs Cowboys (I)

Note:  The idea for these Breakdowns come from a Michigan blog called  Brian Cook is the founder of that site and if you want to find where all good things on the internet come from you should check out his site.  He’s got the football acumen of Belichick and the writing chops of David Foster Wallace-adjace.  You can’t ask for a better combo than that so check it out.  Unless youre a buckeye, in which case you should check out Ross Fulton at by clicking here.   He has got some great Xs and Os but like Ohio State recruits, you gotta pay for it (take that!)

Lining Up:

We tried a few different looks versus Dallas’ 11 (1RB, 1TE) personnel, first we tried a 2-4-5 look:

2 DL, 4 LBs, 5 DBs
2 DL, 4 LBs, 5 DBs

Smith blows a zone coverage, Dez gets an eighteen yard gain.  So we scratched that and tried a 3-3-5 look:


They hit Dez for a 17 yard gain–this was more a function of a poor pass rush–so we scratched that formation and stuck with our ol’ reliable Nickel defense.  We stayed in Nickel for 39% of all snaps.  (I didn’t chart 4 plays because they were run-out-the-clock runs prior to half and end of the game.)

Any formation that had 2 backs or 2+ tight ends we responded with our 3-4 front which puts 5 guys on the line of scrimmage:


Personnel was same as last week except Reyes didn’t play so Francois and Jenkins got a lot of snaps.  DHall played a ton of strong safety and matched up on-one-on with the tight end where as last week he was more of a free safety playing deep coverage.

On with the Show:

“[Zeke] had a few big breaks”  I think the drive that is annoying Francois is the 5th one which was the 1st drive of the 2nd half.  Throughout the 1st half the Cowboys ran it outside with zone and we slanted our line to get into the backfield and stop it.  Here they come out in 12 (1 RB, 2TE) personnel which means we come out in our 5 man line 3-4.  They run it at Francois and Smith, Francois penetrates and blows up the play:



Francois was giving their run game troubles all day.  Fast forward to the 2nd half, 5th drive:


Again Dallas has 2 receivers on either side but now they are in 11 personnel which means we respond with our Nickel defense.  Now we have 4 guys at the line and notice the space next to Smith, his side of the ball is looking real light with Compton and 2 defensive backs supporting him.  Dallas runs it right to him and Smith makes things more difficult by slanting away from the run (probably expecting Dallas to run it towards their tight end):

Finally, a couple plays later they hit us with a counter:


Same formation as before and they start out by running it away from the tight end just like the previous play.  Our front 7 bites and then Dallas reverses field on us for 21 yards:

So yeah, Dallas adjusted and took advantage of our aggressive run defense to gash us for some big runs but we did fine after this and held Dallas to just 5 yards rushing on the next 3 drives.  Dan Steinberg with the numbers (link):

For the record, Dallas’s numbers rushing the ball in the first half (16 carries for 51 yards) and the second half (14 carries for 51 yards) were nearly identical

Francois was right that Dallas made some adjustments that hurt us but to be fair, we answered back.

Arrrrggghhh Bootleg:

The real damage Dallas’ outside zone runs did to us was with the Bootleg play action starting with the 1st play of the game:

On the clip above Kerrigan chases after the outside zone run and lets Dak break contain and roll outside of him.  That was a reoccurring issue with Kerrigan all game long.  His Rage Virus focus on the running back was a big reason Dallas got 82 yards on 4 bootlegs.

Defensive Line            
  Run     Pass    
Player + Total + Total
Baker 6.5 3 3.5 2.5 0 2.5
Smith 0 2 -2 2.5 5 -2.5
Francois 5.5 1 4.5 0 0 0
Kerrigan 5.5 0.5 5 3 3 0
Hood 6 8.5 -2.5 2 2.5 -0.5
Murphy 5.5 4.5 1 5.5 0 5.5
Jenkins 6 1 5 0 0 0
Total 35 20.5 14.5(63%) 15.5 10.5 5(60%)


Even with Kerrigan’s lack of contain he still did what he does best and that is crush tight end blocks:

Here he nails the TE into the Tackle who is pulling away from his block:



That is awesome.

Baker was the most consistent versus double teams and discarding one-on-one blocksFrancois is taking hold as the 2nd best run defender behind him.  Francois is tall and has long arms, which is the build you want versus offensive tackles.  Shorter and stouter Guard and Center combos will occasionally get leverage on him but he can moonlight further outside as a 3 tech and dominate as a 5.  He gets his hands underneath the pads of his blocker before the guy can fire out his arms:

He gets off the line so damn quick and gives offensive lineman very little surface area to work with:

Kerrigan, Baker and Francois are our toughest run defenders.  Jenkins is making a case to join that group.  Here are 2 clips of Jenkins meeting a double team on their side of the line of scrimmage:

That is the kind of reinforcements our line needs.  In the second video you can see how clean he keeps Foster.  There isn’t a single offensive lineman within a couple yards of him.  (Btw, in that first video: Compton wtf!)

Preston Smith wasn’t playing with the best technique versus the run and got over powered on a couple of plays.  Versus the pass we asked him to drop in zone coverage and he was not ready:


Witten is crossing underneath him and Dez is in a deep In route behind him.  Smith fails to pass off Witten to Compton.  Had he done that then his next task would be to climb to the next level (first down marker depth) because whenever someone crosses you low there is probably someone else coming in behind you:

We stopped dropping him in coverage after that.  When we drop one of the big guys like Golston we normally give them one responsibility like: don’t allow any short passes over the middle.  I think we might need to adjust Smith’s zone responsibilities to something resembling that.  Or we could, you know, stop dropping him back and have him destroy quarterbacks.

Speaking of blown zone coverages:



It’s the same story as last year:  DHall can lock down almost any tight end in man to man coverage but when asked to play zone, he looks confused.

Defensive Backs    
  Run     Pass    
Player + Total + Total
Norman 3 2 1 3 1 2
Breeland 0.5 0 0.5 3 4.5 -1.5
Bruton 1.5 0 1.5 0 5 -5
Dhall 1 0.5 0.5 1 4 -3
Phillips 1.5 0 1.5 0 3 -3
Totals 7.5 2.5 5(75%) 7 17.5 -10.5(29%)
Coverage 13.5 28 -14.5(33%)
Pressure 11 5 6(69%)

Coverage metric is the most important stat in this table.  With coverages being so complex it’s impossible to know who is responsible for what on every single play so most minuses get filed under “coverage.”  For obvious blown assignments like the play above I will minus the player and coverage.  Likewise, I’ll give a positive grade for plays like pass breakups to the player and “coverage”.

So yeah, coverage was rough.  We had blown zone coverages underneath combined with really soft coverage over top from Breeland and DHall and Dez took advantage of that for about 40 yards.  Beasley got a few easy matchups based on poor personnel subs.  Dallas came out with zero running backs on this play (4WRs, 1TE) and we failed to sub out our Nickel package which has 2 linebackers.  That left Mason Foster one on one with one of the most dangerous slot receivers in the game:


We got lucky and Beasley slipped on his route.

We did the same thing AGAIN 4 plays later and had to take a timeout.  Later on a crucial 3rd and 11, Dallas went 4 WR, 1TE 0 RBs again, and we end up with our strong safety Bruton one on one with Beasely.  It had predictable results.  Phillips is our Nickel corner and designated slot WR guy.  I don’t see how he doesn’t draw Beasley as his assignment.

  Run     Pass    
Player + Total + Total
Compton 6.5 6.5 0 2 6.5 -4.5
Foster 2 6.5 -4.5 3 4 -1
Cravens 1 0 1 0 1 -1
Totals 9.5 13 -3.5(42%) 5 11.5 -6.5(30%)

Cravens got stuck covering dirt again in his zone drops, which for a rookie is understandable.  At least he is getting to the spot he’s assigned too.  When Compton got injured Cravens came in and filled versus the run like a heat seeking missile:

I may have been a little harsh on Compton with his pass grade but his zone drops are too shallow at times and it leaves throws wide open behind him.  Versus the run he graded out even.  He mixed some pretty damn good run fills with ones where he had trouble reading the play:

He’s prone to about 1 to 2 of those a game.  If they end up like the clip above, it’s harmless.

What had happened was…:

  • Linebackers struggled with underneath zone coverages.  Breeland and DHall played soft over top
  • DHall can play man to man on tight ends all day.  But ask him to play zone coverage and he gets confused
  • Coach Barry needs to get his personnel subs fixed.  We burned a timeout on one play and had a linebacker covering Beasley on another all because we could not sub in the right guys on the field.  This happened last year versus the Giants too.
  • Cullen Jenkins might be the hero we need.
  • Kerrigan continues to crush tight end blocks versus the run.  Teams are going to eventually stop running it to his side.
  • Francois and Baker are our 2 best run defenders.  With the exception of the 5th drive, Dallas couldn’t move the ball on the ground.



Drive 1 (15:00)
Ln Dn Ds RB TE Off Formation Def Formation R(3T)/P Play Call Yards
C20 1 10 1 1 Ace 2×2 Nickel Over PA Pass Bootleg 11
Outside zone PA action.  Baker (+0.5) gets off quickly and tracks the ball carrier.  Golston gets penetration but then gets hurt and goes down.  Smith (+0.5) does a good job of setting the edge.  LBs flow with Dhall in the box as the strong safety.  Can’t tell if he gets back over top his man in time.  Kerrigan (-1) loses contain on the boot.  Phillips (-1) (coverage -1) loses his man on the sideline as he pursues run.
C31 1 10 1 2 Offset I 3Hx1(tight) 3-4 under Run (away) Inside Zone 2
Jean-Francois (+1) knives right through his double and gets to the backfield and makes the tackle along with Baker (+1) who locks out and then pulls the tackle to the ground, discards him like dead weight.  Hood (-0.5) takes the double and gets moved.  He’s able to hold on and keep Compton clean but doesn’t leave a good angle for him.  Francois’ move leaves Foster open to getting blocked but it’s fine since JF is making a play.
C33 2 8 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel Over Pass Out Inc
Rush 4, Foster has the RB, Dhall manned up on the tight end.  Norman (+1) (coverage +1) draped all over Dez
C33 3 8 1 1 Empty 4(3-Bunch)x1 2–4–5 Pass In 18
Cravens being counted as a LB.  We have 2 down lineman with Compton at nose.  Kerrigan and Smith have hook zones.  Smith (-0.5) over plays his zone and doesn’t pass off to Kerrigan.  Ball goes over his head and underneath either Dhall, who doesn’t carry his man or Bruton who needed to come up.  But that would’ve left Phillips one-on-one deep, maybe that was the call.  (coverage -2)
S49 1 10 1 1 Shotgun 2(Stack)x2 Nickel Over Run (away) Power G 2
The run bends back into the 1-5 bubble.  Smith (-0.5), Baker (-0.5) and Foster (-0.5) all get sealed out.  Compton (+2) makes an amazing play as he takes on the Pulling guard and funnels to help which ends up being himself as he reaches around his blocker and slows down the RB long enough for Hood to come back to the play and tackle the RB.  Not sure how to grade Hood here as he slanted himself out of the play but then hustled to get back in thanks to Compton.  Hood (-0.5).  Kerrigan is being more careful with his contain responsibilities on this play.  RB gave an assist by slipping.
S47 2 8 1 2 Ace 2×2 3-4 under Run (away) Outside zone -1
Kerrigan (+0.5) is able to slant in the C-gap and give backside pursuit because Bruton has backside contain.  Baker (-0.5) releases off the line to be able to sprint in pursuit but catches a block and gets blown back, potentially allowing for a cutback.  Hood (+1) penetrates from the nose position and Jean Francois (+1) does what he does versus outside zone: penetrate and disrupt.  Smith struggles to set the edge, Compton (+0.5) flies in underneath to replace him.  RB slips again.
S48 3 9 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 3–3–5 Pass In 17
Rush 4, Cravens-Compton-Phillips have underneath zones.  4 deep.  Breeland (-1) (coverage -1) with a huge cushion.  Cravens worked underneath up to the first down marker, not sure why Breeland had to back up so far.  Smith (-1) with an offsides penalty.  And where was DHall on this play?
S31 1 10 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel Over Pass Sack -2
Kerrigan (+1) (Pressure +1) (coverage +1) rips back inside for the sack.  Looks like cover 3.
S33 2 12 1 1 Shotugn 3×1 Nickel Over Pass Out and In 28
Dhall is in the box over the TE.  Looks like man-free coverage.  Line slants left with Murphy (+1) sacrificing himself into his blocker so the looping LBs coming around to the right have a free path to the QB (pressure +1).  Phillips (-2) (coverage -1) gets embarrased in man coverage by Beasley and then misses the tackle after Bruton (-1) whiffs.
S5 1 G 1 1 Shotgun 2×2 Nickel Over Pass Fade Inc
Man-free coverage again.  We rush 6.  Breeland (+1) (coverage +1) with a PBU.
S5 2 G 1 1 Shotgun 2(Stack)x2 Nickel Over Pass Pwr Opt Shovel 1
Looks like Man-free on the boundary, man-to-man on the field stack side.  They option Murphy (+0.5) and he just attacks the QB to take out any pass option or rollout.  Guard pulls like power and tries to wall off Foster (+1.5) who gets outside the block and funnels the RB back to Compton but then just makes the tackle himself.  Baker (+1) holds up to the double and doesn’t get moved.  Hood (+2) gets skinny at the POA and blows right past his block and knocks that blocker to the ground while pursuing the pulling guard in his hip pocket.  Grabs the RB’s ankle.  Compton (+0.5) steps around Hood’s discarded trash and pursues to the RB.  That was a clinc.
S4 3 G 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 3–2–6 Pass Chaos Inc
Rush 3, Blackmon covers the RB.  Norman (+1) (coverage +2) with a PBU in the endzone.   Dak had 6 seconds to throw that thing.
FG.  9:29 remains 1st qtr.  0-3.
Drive 2 (6:52)
Ln Dn Ds RB TE Off Formation Def Formation R(3T)/P Play Call Yards
C6 1 10 2 2 I-Form 2Hx1(tight) 3-4 under PA Pass Bootleg 29
Breeland and Bruton in the box lined up over tight ends on either side.  Jenkins is the 3 tech and is to the field.  Preston Smith (-1) loses contain and Dhall (-2) (coverage -2) loses witten
C35 1 10 1 3 Ace 2(tight)x2 3-4 under Run (away) Inside Zone 9
Hood (-1) and Smith slant left.  Jenkins (+1) rocks his double team and stalemates them with neither one able to work to the 2nd level.  Francois looks to be stunting with Smith (-0.5) who can’t shake a TE block to fill the huge gap left by hood.  Compton (-1) takes the wrong shoulder and takes himself out of the play.
C44 2 1 1 2 Ace 3×1(tight) 3-4 under Run (to) Outside zone 3
Jenkins (+0.5) is the 3 tech, he slants inside the guard, gets penetration and takes the guard out.  He misses the tackle in the backfield.  Kerrigan (+0.5) crushes the TE and seals the outside runs off.  Foster (-0.5) is lined up 7 yards off the ball pre snap and never approaches towards the LOS.  Wtf.  I don’t get that assignment.  Francois stays on the line giving backside pursuit, he’s only handling a TE block.  Hood (-0.5) gets blown off the line and can’t clean up after a good effort by Jenkins.
C47 1 10 1 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Nickel Split Pass Penalty 5
Kerrigan (-1) offsides
S48 1 5 1 1 Ace 2×2 Nickel over Run (away) Outside zone 9
Hood (-1.5) gets sealed which slows down all backside pursuit long enough for the RB to have a cutback lane.  Murphy (-1.5) tries to set the edge but can’t close the door with the tackle.  Then fails to disengage from his block to get the RB.  Jenkins (-0.5) doesn’t disrupt the guard’s path to Foster (-0.5) who then can’t shake his block.  Compton (+0.5) sets a new edge.
S39 1 10 1 1 Ace 2×2 Nickel over Run (away) Inside Zone 3
Francois (+1) fires his gap and gets in the backfield to force the RB to cut away, also stuns his 2nd blocker so Foster (+1) is kept clean enough to get to the RB.  Murphy (-0.5) has gotten way upfield and left a huge cut back lane open.  Baker (-1) gets removed from the line.  Compton (+0.5) fills nicley.
S36 2 7 2 1 Shotgun 3×1 3-4 under Pass Slant 6
Line is shifted to the boundary away from the TE toward the FB.  Motion the RB out wide leaves Smith standing over Dez.  Yikes.  Rush 3 drop all 4 LBs in underneath coverage.  Dak fits it in between Smith and Compton (+0.5) (coverage +0.5) who did the best he could given the position he was in.
S30 3 1 1 1 Ace 3×1 Nickel over Run (away) Penalty Declined
Dallas only had 5 guys on the LOS
S30 4 1 1 3 Ace 2Hx2(tight) Goalline PA Pass Bootleg 28
(pressure +1) we kept contain and covered except for Bruton (-3) (coverage -3) who lost his man as he played run for a second.  Kerrigan is playing C-gap and Garvin seems to make a check with Compton so I don’t think either one of those 2 are responsible for coverage.
S2 1 G 1 1 Shotugn empty 4(diamond)x1 Nickel over Pass Penalty -5
Delay of game
S7 1 G 1 1 Shotgun 2×2 Nickel over Pass Penalty 6
PI on Breeland (-1) we rush 6 (pressure +1) (coverage -1)
S1 1 G 2 2 I-Form (6OL) Goalline Run (n/a) Iso 1(TD)
Baker (+0.5) gets in the backfield but there’s a push up front with Hood (-1) and Francois (-1) giving up a ton of ground.
Touchdown.  1:39 remains 1st qtr.  0-10.
Drive 3 (13:08)
Ln Dn Ds RB TE Off Formation Def Formation R(3T)/P Play Call Yards
C25 1 10 1 1 Shotgun 3Hx1 Nickel Over PA Pass In 15
Cover 3 with Foster (-1) and Compton (-1) (coverage -1) biting hard on PA so we have no underneath coverage.
C40 1 10 1 1 Shotgun 3Hx1 Nickel Over Run (to) Split zone 0
Hood (+1.5) fires into the backfield and disrupts the sniffer.  Smith keeps contain, Baker holds ground Compton and Foster funnell to help.  Bruton (+1) comes up and makes a dead on tackle.
C40 2 10 0 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Nickel over Pass Out Inc
Cowboys have 0 RBs on the field but we keep in 2 LBs.  This leaves Foster (+1) (coverage +1) one-on-one with Beasley.  Beasley falls and Foster sticks to him.
C40 3 10 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 3–2–6 Pass Scramble (Pen) 16(-10)
Smith (-1) gets too far up field in his rush and loses contain and leverage.  Baker (+1) draws a holding call
C30 3 20 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 3–2–6 Pass Dump off 10
We rush 3 (pressure -1) (coverage +1) and drop the rest.  I’m counting Cravens as a LB again.  Dak forced to dump it off.
Punt.  11:20 remains 2nd qtr.  7-10.
Drive 4 (9:05)
Ln Dn Ds RB TE Off Formation Def Formation R(3T)/P Play Call Yards
C44 1 10 1 2 Ace 3×1(tight) 3-4 under Run (to) Outside zone 1
Kerrigan (+1) closes the door on any outside run.  Jenkins (+1) penetrates and forces a cutback into Dhall (+1) and Francois (+1) who maintained backside pursuit.  Hood (-1) gets cut to the ground.
C45 2 9 0 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Dime Split Pass Penalty 5
Offsides on Smith (-1).  We had to call a timeout as we were not ready for the 01 personnell again.  Foster was late to switch out.
50 2 4 1 2 Ace 3×1(tight) 3-4 under PA Pass Drag Inc
They run PA with OZ.  Last 2 times in this formation they ran OZ.  Kerrigan (+1) (pressure +1) (coverage +1) forces Dak to step up.  Breeland (+1) is stuck to his man.  Compton (+1) with a tip at the LOS.
50 3 4 1 1 Shotgun 2×2 Nickel Over Pass Swing 16
rush 4 (pressure -1) (coverage -1) someone busts flat coverage.   Looks like Compton (-1)
S34 1 10 1 1 Ace 3×1 Nickel Over Run (away) Inside Zone 6
They send a WR to crack on DHal who pads back enough.  Phillips looks to have contain behind him.  Cutback was there, RB doesn’t see it.  Kerrigan (+0.5) maintains C gap, Baker (+0.5) holds against his double as does Jenkins (+1) with violence.  LBs are totally clean.  Foster fits and Compton (-2) wtf he just decides to drop back into coverage.  not sure what his key was on that play.
S28 2 4 1 2 Shotgun 3×1(tight) Nickel Over Pass Dump off 3
Rush 3 and somehow make Dak move around (pressure +1) (coverage +1) he has forever to throw but only checks it down.   Hood (+1) does a great job containing Dak in the pocket from the NT position.
S25 3 1 1 2 Ace 2(tight)x1 6OL 3-4 under Run (to) Dive 7
Baker (-1) gets sealed out and Hood (-1) at 3 tech also gets sealed.  Compton (-1) runs into Hood instead of a hole.  Foster (-0.5) looks a little slow to react and gets sealed.
S18 1 10 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel Over Run (to) Power G 3
Francois and Murphy slant with Murphy (+1) okie-doking the TE and getting in the backfield where he misses the tackle (-0.5) but Compton (+1.5) avoids 2 blockers and cleans up.
S15 2 7 1 1 Shotgun 3×1(tight) Nickel Over Run (away) Inside Zone 2
Murphy switches from 9 to 7 tech as the RB motions to the Backfield.  Backside is covered, Francois holds the POA.  Hood (+0.5) slants into the backfield and then gets taken out the play but forces a cutback.  Foster (+1) sheds his block and cleans up.  Not sure if what Hood did was intentional or if he overplayed it.  But it worked.
S13 3 5 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Dime over Pass Spot Inc
Miscommunication between Bruton and Compton.  Nobody takes the RB (coverage -1) Dak misses it.  Blitz (pressure +1) Smith (+1) beats his man.  Kerrigan left unblocked.  Dhall (+1) (coverage +1) with PBU.
FG.  4:39 remains 2nd qtr.  Dallas gets the ball back and runs it once to run out the clock (not charted)
Drive 5 (11:16)
Ln Dn Ds RB TE Off Formation Def Formation R(3T)/P Play Call Yards
C25 1 10 1 1 Ace 3×1 Nickel Over PA Pass Bootleg 14
Outside zone PA action.  Kerrigan (-1) loses contain again.  Compton (-1) (coverage -1) loses the TE due to PA.
C39 1 10 1 1 Ace 2×2 Nickel Over Run (away) Outside zone 9
Cowboys motion Beasly again, that’s twice in a row.  Looks like phillips is manned up on him again.   Smith (-1.5) and Hood (+0.5) slant away with Hood recovering and fighting through to reestablish himself.  Smith can’t readjust and gets washed out.  Compton (-1) pre snap alignment was way over to the strong side.  He has a ton of ground to make up.  He sets an edge and RB cuts up field between him and Smith.
C48 2 1 1 3 Ace 3×1(tight) 3-4 under Run (away) Dive 5
Hood (+0.5) and Baker (+0.5) hold their doubles.  Compton (+0.5) fills violently.  Smith slants inside to take away the D gap.  RB bounces outside.  We are asking Dhall (-0.5) and Norman (-1) to handle the outside 2 gaps.  Dhall barely holds up against a tiny WR.  Norman looks lost and doesn’t fill appropriately.
S47 1 10 2 1 I-Form Twins 2×1(tight) 3-4 under PA Pass Flat 5
Someone between Foster and Compton bust coverage.  (coverage -1)  PA slows down kerrigan who couldn’t nailed Dak on this one (pressure -1)
S42 2 5 1 1 Ace 2×2 Nickel over Run (to) Counter 21
Bruton comes into the box, 7 in the box, cover 3 with slot in man.   We’ve been slanting this drive and they caught us.   They ran this formation a couple plays earlier and outside zoned us for 9 yards.  We look to be slanting to prevent that.  Witten is playing off the line and gets a better angle on his downblock.  Murphy (-2) needs to read the downblocking and look for a pulling OL.  He gets caught up in the wash.  Edge is wide open.  Bruton (+0.5) sets a new edge vs a OL.  Foster (-2) comes in at a poor angle and fails to funnell to help.  They started away from the 3tech and countered back, Compton (-1) didn’t read the BSG correct.
S21 1 10 1 1 Shotgun 2×2 Nickel over Run (away) Sweep 4
They block like outside zone and downblock with WR.  They tried to reach block Baker (+1) lol.  He discards then runs upfield.  Jenkins (-0.5) struggles with a cut block.  Kerrigan (+1) rips through the crack block and maintains C gap.  Phillips (+0.5) gets under his WR block and sets an edge…kinda.  RB cuts up field.  This is how they answer the impossible problem of how do you run it outside against Kerrigan.  Norman (-1) looks to have contain and lines up 6 yards off the LOS.   He at least makes the tackle.
S17 2 6 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel over Pass Sack -5
(pressure +1) Murphy (+2) dips past his man for the sack.   Shouldve been holding called on whoever blocked Smith.
S22 3 11 0 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Dime Split Pass In 16
We drop 8 (coverage -3) and still can’t close everything down.  Compton (-1.5) doesn’t drop back far enough.  Beasley and Dez were to his side.  Beasley ran it short Compton should’ve been looking for the Deep In route behind him.  Breeland (-1.5) was playing cover 3/fade but could’ve made a better break on the ball.  Lack of confidence showing.
S6 1 G 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel Over Pass Fade Inc
Breeland (+1) (coverage +1) playing press again in the red zone and getting a PBU.
S6 2 G 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel over Pass Scramble 6(TD)
Hood (-2) gets knocked out of his lane and gives up the big play.  4 guys were in underneath zones facing the QB and not one can make a play? (coverage -1)  Foster (-2) takes a poor angle.  He had passed off the TE and was covering dirt, he should be making that tackle.
Touchdown.  5:47 remains 3rd qtr.  17-20.
Drive 6 (2:06)
Ln Dn Ds RB TE Off Formation Def Formation R(3T)/P Play Call Yards
C25 1 10 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel over Pass Hook 9
(pressure -1) rush 4.  Dak has all day.  Breeland (-1) (coverage -1) is playing this way too soft.  Foster (+0.5) with a decent effort on covering 2 guys.
C34 2 1 1 1 Ace 3×1 Nickel over Run (to) Inside Zone Fumble
Baker (+1) holds against the double.  Kerrigan rips under Witten’s block.  Dhall throws his shoulder into the WR lined up at H back.  Norman (+3) reads inside release of #1 and plays contain outside Dhall and forces a fumble.  Cowboys keep testing Norman’s run D.
Fumble.  1:46 remains 3rd qtr.  20-20.
Drive 7 (15:00)
Ln Dn Ds RB TE Off Formation Def Formation R(3T)/P Play Call Yards
C30 1 10 1 1 Ace 3(bunch)x1 Nickel Over PA Pass Sack -5
Weird assignment as WR still cracks on Dhall even though it’s a pass.  I guess this allows RB to go out and not block?  Rush 5 (pressure +1) Murphy (+2) with the shoestring sack.
C25 2 15 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel over Run (away) Power T -1
We blitz Cravens, Phillips and Bruton.  Kerrigan (+2) crushes the TE into the pulling tackle and kills the pull and the whole play..  Baker (+0.5) holds up against the double allowing Cravens to blitz right through.  Phillips (+1) comes in unblocked to make the tackle.  We knew what they were going to run.
C24 3 16 0 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Dime over Pass Dump off 10
(Coverage +1) Dak had time but nowhere to go.
Punt.  13:00 remains 4th qtr.  23-20.
Drive 8 (10:35)
Ln Dn Ds RB TE Off Formation Def Formation R(3T)/P Play Call Yards
C20 1 10 1 3 Ace 2(tight)x2 3-4 under Run (away) Outside zone -4
Francois (+0.5) with great backside pursuit.  He’s got the Tackle hauling ass trying to get around him.  Hood (+1) locks out his arms and fights the center to the backfield while maintaing his gap.  Murphy (+1.5) rocks the Tackle and nails him into the backfield which gives Cravens (+1) a clear path to strike the RB like a missle.  The playside guard can’t even touch Cravens.  Breeland (+0.5) held a decent enough edge vs a TE.  They are trying to put our DBs in heavy run support against OL.  Good call for Murphy to slant to the Tackle and have Breeland shoot outside vs the TE.
C16 2 14 1 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Nickel over Pass WR Seam 21
Dhall (-2) (coverage -2) doesn’t pass of the TE quick enough and misses Dez who comes off a quick Jam by Phillips whose playing Curl to flat zone.  Norman had cover 3 zone.
C37 1 10 1 1 Ace 2×2 Nickel over PA Pass Drag 14
Outside zone play action sucks up Compton (-1) and Cravens (-1) (coverage -2) for an easy drag route completion.
S49 1 10 1 1 Ace 2×2 Nickel over Run (away) Outside zone 4
Beasley goes in motion and Phillips passes him off to Bruton.  Now our SS is Nickel CB and our Nickel CB is SS.  LBs get confused and our presnap alignment is all off.  LBs are shifted way too far away from the weak side.  Not sure who messed that assignment up.  Kerrigan (-0.5) plays the run fine but then gets held and complains in the middle of the play about not getting a call and loses his pursuit.  Francois (+1) and Jenkins (+1) slant and get backfield penetration and disrupt the play.  Jenkins can’t quite make the tackle.  P. Smith (-1) slants inside and gets blown off the line.  If he has the inside gap then the LBs are definetly lined up wrong.  Foster (-0.5) and Compton (-0.5) for lining up wrong.  Foster sets an edge and Phillips fills from behind.
S45 2 6 1 2 Ace 3Hx1 3-4 under PA Pass Flat 1(15)
Smith (+1) (pressure +1) breaks inside on the TE and sucks him into pass pro.  That TE should be in the flat.  Smith manages to keep contain even though he slanted inside the TE.  Foster (-1) goes low on the QB.  15 yards.
S29 1 10 1 1 Ace 2×2 Nickel over Run (away) Inside Zone 1
Jenkins (+1) knives through the double.  Murphy (+1) holds leverage inside the tackle.  Compton (+1) fits around Murphy and makes the tackle.  Baker (+0.5) looped around and gang tackled as well.
S28 2 9 1 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Nickel Over Pass Penalty 5
Kerrigan (+1) (pressure +1) blows by the rotating guard.  Norman (-1) illegal hands to the face.
S23 1 10 1 3 Ace 2(tight)x2 3-4 under Run (away) Inside Zone -1
Murphy (+2) slants and knocks the ball out the ball carrier hands at the LOS.  Baker (+1) slants inside the tackle and forces cutback into Murphy.  Jenkins (+0.5) holds up to the double.
S24 2 11 1 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Nickel over Pass In Inc
Man-free coverage with Foster out wide vs a RB.  Dhall on the TE.  Norman (+1) (coverage +1) with a nice PBU against Dez.
S24 3 11 0 1 Shotgun Empty 3×2 Dime over Pass Out 12
Rush 5 (pressure -1) Dak has lots of time.  Bruton (-1) (coverage -2) with a poor break.  Who the hell is Cravens covering.  He playing dirt again.  Cravens was a missle vs the run.  Blitz him and drop Compton who could get a better drop.  Also why is Bruton one on one with Beasley.
S12 1 10 1 1 Shotgun 3×1 Nickel Over Pass TE Drag 8
Compton walls off Witten.  And Witten runs right through it, lol.  Compton (-1) (coverage -1)
S4 2 2 1 3 Ace 2(tight)x2 3-4 under Run (away) Inside Zone 4(TD)
RB bends it back behind Hood (-2) who never got set and was blown off by a single block.  Foster (-2) with a late read and hesitant play catches a block.
Touchdown.  4:49 remains 4th qtr.  23-27.  Cowboys run out clock on next drive, not charted.