The excellent fellows at Football Outsiders are running a new weekly column, entitled "Word of Muth," in which former Stanford (and all-Pac10) left tackle Ben Muth breaks down offensive line play. This is good news for Cowboys fans, because he's going to limit his analysis to three o-lines, Washington, Dallas, and Arizona, rotating between the three. So, we'll get his expert analysis on a fairly regular basis. In his latest column, he breaks down Dallas' blocking in the win against Houston.
Muth makes several interesting observations about the game:
- For the most part, Dallas slid protections to Doug Free's side, leaving Marc Columbo on a proverbial island.
- Free was excellent at knowing where his help was. In other words, when he had a tight end on his side, he made sure to steer his man outside, to the tight end's side.
- In an attempt to protect their shaky secondary, Houston began the game by rushing only four. The Cowboys' o-line handled this with such ease that, in the second half, the Texans were forced to blitz, thus opening up passing lanes for bigger gains (Roy WIlliams' long TD, for example).
- Andre Gurode generated tremendous push in the running game, usually working in tandem with one of the guards.
- Kyle Kosier is nimble and pulls well; Leonard Davis isn't and doesn't.
- Dallas employed "formation flexibility" effectively, as a way to keep things simple for the offense yet show the defense a lot of different looks. Jason Garrett and Co. ran the same plays out of multiple sets, often with just one or two subtle yet important tweaks. The bulk of Muth's analysis focuses on how they did this (and it includes cool diagrams!).
We'll keep you posted whenever Muth rotates back to the Cowboys. In the meantime, check out his fine work!