Formerly an email newsletter about all things NFL, it's now a blog about all things NFL, but mostly all things Dallas Cowboys. Probably with a dose of politics, food, and college football.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Zimmer the mad genius

It's easy to say right now, but I've never cared for Mike Zimmer.

I was re-watching the Oakland game and twice in the first half DeMarcus Ware, at the snap, took one step over the line and then retreated. Who is he faking?

Number one, this is just wasted motion. Pre-snap, you may give a look, then at the snap do something else in an effort to deceive, but this step over the line is just nonsense. And number two, both plays were running plays. Ware's actions had nothing to do with attacking, or read-and-reacting. He was going through some designed machination that was neither deceptive to the offensive play, nor helpful to stopping it.

The running plays were to the other side, but still, Ware should be crashing down the line or pursuing from the backside. My point isn't that Ware should have made the play, but that it's an example of something else going on besides just stopping a simple play.

I don't have a ready example, but it wouldn't be hard to find one of Greg Ellis being an absolute slave to design, at the expense of actually stopping the play. Tell me you haven't seen this: Ellis rushes upfield and a blitzer or a DT looping or stunting comes through on his inside. The blitzer is invariably picked up, but that's not what I notice about this play. It's that Ellis seems to go upfield and engage the blocker simply because the play is designed "for" the blitzer.

Ellis's action is designed to open the hole for the blitzer. Fair enough. But then Ellis just... stops! It's like it's been drilled into him that he is to engage the tackle while (whatever else) happens. But, shouldn't he pursue too? It seems to be treated like an isolation play.

Since we've got the Eagles coming up, who can forget the Sunday night when they didn't rush McNabb? The pass rush may not have been any good, but this was clearly by design -- Zimmer's design. Perhaps the players weren't smart enough to understand the concept of keeping him contained, but I don't think so. I think Zimmer had this bright idea to make McNabb throw because at the time he wasn't that accurate. Only thing is, he had 5, 6, 7 seconds to do it, and nobody can cover that long, and you don't have to be that accurate to be successful against that kind of scheme.

We certainly seem to be the only team incapable of having a blitzer come in freely (and quickly). I think it's at least in part because Zimmer has 4-5 guys who have some cockamamie "responsibility" or technique they have to maintain, while 1-2 isolated guys are supposed to be coming free. But they aren't.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Still pissed with Payton

Remember that Dallas was staying in California for the
week between the SF and Oakland games because Parcells
said it would really help the coaches.

So how does de facto Offensive Coordinator Sean
Payton, with all that time to study, come up with that
dog of a game plan for Oakland? The offense looked
completely unprepared for everything Oakland threw at
them.

The receivers didn’t get open.

No matter where Oakland brought pressure from, Dallas
had trouble picking it up.

I still have trouble quantifying this, but the offense
has no rhythm. It just seems like a disjointed bunch
of plays.

Finally, where are the adjustments? Yes, they came
back late in the game, but both big plays Dallas made
were somewhat fluky. The long pass to Glenn came on
what may have been the only play that the Oakland
pressure was picked up, and bombs are fluky by nature.
Most long passes have an element of hope/prayer.

The pass/run to Crayton was about one-third nice pass
play, two-thirds shoddy tackling. And if you didn’t
see it, it wasn’t run of the mill shoddy tackling, it
was epic shoddy tackling.

Shouldn’t Dallas be finding and exposing weaknesses
after halftime? Or, I don’t know, from the opening
kick?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

They just stink

There are probably a hundred reasons Dallas lost. But there’s only one that really matters.

They don’t have “it.’ The stuff. The goods. What it takes.

It’s personified like this:

Larry Allen makes one block and quits. I know I’ve said that so much it’s like a mantra, but against the Raiders it really mattered. Warren Freaking Sapp whipped him. Larry Allen has two techniques. One pop, and if you don’t fall down, he just stops as the defender runs around him. The second technique, which he employed often in Oakland, is to lean on Sapp or whoever, until the defender just sheds or slips off him and proceeds to make the tackle.

Larry Allen is not a champion. He’s a big, fat, guy with enough muscle memory to be marginally effective.

Julius Jones alligator-arms a pass from Keyshawn Johnson because a defender was looming. Jones didn’t look right Sunday. He looked tired, or dinged, or something. I know he did get dinged, but even before that, he seemed to go down rather easily.

But what the hell, Julius? It wasn’t going to be a touchdown, but you have to make that play. The pass was high, but champions make that play.

Drew Bledsoe was under duress all day, but he was hurrying his throws right from the start. He did it all day whether he was being hurried or not, culminating in the final play which he just flipped out to Glenn which gave Glenn no chance to score even if he had caught it.

But it’s not all about heart. Sometimes you’re just not good enough, or you make a mistake, or you’re poorly managed.

On third down, Bledsoe passed incomplete to Keyshawn on a play that even I knew they’d run. But what followed was pure game butchery. Going by memory, that play, which STOPPED THE CLOCK, left about 1:32 to go in the game.

Bledsoe calls timeout.

Not after Sean Payton or Parcells had wasted time shuffling papers on the sideline and were paralyzed by indecision. He called it right away. Three different things are wildly wrong with this.

One, it didn’t occur to them that the 3rd down play might not work? They didn’t have another play lined up? They’re so confused by needing one play to go five yards that they couldn’t decide which one to run?

Two, THEN THEY PICK THAT PLAY? I doubt Glenn would have scored if Bledsoe’s pass was perfect. At best it would have gone to replay, and maybe they would have gotten a first down inside the one.

Three, it was their first time out. How do you take a time out when if you don’t score, you still have a chance to make a stop with all three timeouts? If they make the stop, Oakland punts from the end zone and Dallas has over a minute to probably drive only about 50 yards. Pure butchery. The very definition of “burning a time out.”

The Dallas D looked like they gave up after Oakland took over on downs, and I almost can’t blame them. Their coaches let them down. They put them in position to lose.