In a normal game week for an NFL team, Wednesday is the first day of actual practice. This is the day where coaches begin their gameplan install for the week. They will introduce to the players the things they want to do on offense, defense and in the kicking game that they feel will give them the best chance to win on Sunday. For the Cowboys and Giants in week 1, Saturday is their Wednesday.
So I thought this would be a great opportunity for us to take a look at the Giants and discuss a few ideas I would focus on as a Cowboys coach week one, and look at some X's and O's.
Take the jump to check it out...
Who are they?
When you look at the Giants on defense you have to start with the Front four. Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell is traditionally a Tampa 2 guy who will mix in blitzes not only from his linebackers, but also from the secondary. But the scheme really starts up front, where the G-Men line up 3 of their most talented defenders.
Jason Pierre-Paul is probably the most talented of their Defender's and he most often lines up at the Right Defensive End position. He is a 3 down player who recorded 16.5 sacks in 2011 and plays with a lot of quickness and explosion. Justin Tuck is usually the starter on the left side, and slides inside to DT when the Giants run their "Nascar" (4 DE) package on the field. He is a veteran guy who spent a lot of 2011 banged up, but if you ask me getting him and our next guy back healthy was what keyed the Giants run to the Super Bowl. Osi Umenyora is a guy who is the third DE, but plays a lot, especially in passing situations. The Giants almost treat DE's the way the Cowboys treat their CB's, the Third guy is essentially a starter. The Giants are facing injuries at the DT position, as Chris Canty, and Marvin Austin are banged up.
The Giants LB's are Michael Boley, Chase Blackburn, and Mathias Kiwanuka. You may remember Boley from that fateful play in 2010 that resulted in Tony Romo's broken collar bone. He and Kiwanuka, who is a former DE are both very good rushing from their OLB spots and Blackburn is a guy who came off the streets coaching high school football last year in mid-season and ended up starting at MLB and making an interception in the Super Bowl. Many times Kiwanuka will move down to the front and put his hand on the ground either at End or even inside at DT to rush the passer in the "Nascar" package.
As I talked about in my breakdown of Tampa 2, the Mike backer is very important due to his responsibility to turn and run with any threat to the inside vertical seam. This is a guy you have to find a way to put stress on when going against that coverage look.
The secondary has faced a lot of injuries as 3 of their top 4 CB's have injuries that are likely to keep them out of Wednesday's match up. Terrell Thomas, Jayron Hosley, and 2011 First Rounder Prince Amukamara are all out with leg injuries, leaving Corey Webster to start on one side with Michael Coe playing opposite him. Safeties Antrell Rolle and Kenny Phillips man the back half of the defense.
How can we attack them?
The key to this game Offensively for the Cowboys, is DeMarco Murray. With the injuries up the middle of the Giants DL, as well as their ability to overwhelm OLines with the pass rush, you have to give them another dimension to think about. If I'm Jason Garrett or Bill Callahan, I'm trying to find as many ways to get the ball to #29 as possible.
It will all start with the run game, look for the Lead-Draw (the play DeMarco Murray took 91 yds for a TD against St. Louis in 2011), Inside Zone, Lead-Open, and Power. I would also incorporate the Counter-Wham to catch the aggressive DE's in bad situations.
If the Cowboys can get Murray going early, and show the Giants that we can move the ball on the ground, we should be able to get some movement from their LB's in the Play Action game. If they can get the LB's flowing hard to the ball, they can show the Outside Zone, and run the Yankee Combination that got Dwayne Harris his 2nd TD in the St. Louis Pre-Season game.
The Cowboys also have to find a way to attack the safeties, and Mike Backer in the middle of the field. Normally these guys would be pulled to the middle by Jason Witten's presence on the field, but with the possibility that 82's spleen could keep him out of the opener, this is a consideration that has to be on your mind as an OC. This is where our X's and O's come in to play for this week.
I'm putting 10 Personnel on the field, in a 3rd down situation. In this instance I've got Ogletree, Beasley and Miles in a trips set to Romo's left, and Dez Isolated to the right. Murray is lined up to Romo's right in his shot gun set.
Personnel: X-Ogletree W-Austin Y-Beasley Z-Bryant R-Murray
We have the Giants in a Dime look with 4 CBs on the field, with their "Nascar" front. We'll say this is a 3rd and 7 type situation.
I put the WR's in a trips look for a couple of reasons. This is a great way to pull a Tampa 2 team out of their base coverage and make them play some sort of man coverage. Also, this allows me to manipulate the safeties without #82 on the field. By putting the team in trips to Corey Webster's side, we force the safeties to rotate over to that side,which then gives us Dez 1v1 with Michael Coe on the back side. We now end up with several match ups we really like, Austin vs Hosley, Dez vs Coe, and Murray vs either Boley or safety Kenny Phillips. The trips set also limits the places from with the Giants can bring pressure because the secondary has to shift to the trips side.
Another option that I would consider is having Beasley start in the slot to the Right, and move in motion across the formation to create the trips look. This would force Justin Tryon to be on the move, or force Antrel Rolle down to cover Beasley, which is another match up I would really like when I only need about 7 to move the chains.
As we move to the route combinations we start to the open side with Dez and Murray in a slant/flat combination. (Just a tip, anytime a team goes into trips, watch the lone WR on the other side, about 75% of the time he'll be running a slant) The slant/flat is a base combination that every team in the NFL runs, but for the 'boys from this look, it can be absolutely deadly. If Coe attempts to pass Dez off to Phillips or Boley, we really like that throw when we need 7 yards, and if Coe runs inside with Dez on the slant, we have DeMarco Murray in space one on one with either Phillips or Boley, needing only 7 yards, but if he can make that guy miss, we may be able to get 6 points.
On the trips side, we have multiple route combinations going at once. Miles, and Ogletree have a Go and a Dig, which is called the "Dagger" combination when the go comes from the slot. When you combine Beasley's option route (where he'll earn his money this year), with Ogletree's dig we now have the "Tare" combination. The guy that the safety to that side will be most concerned about is #19. We have him in the slot matched up with the G-Men's 3rd or 4th CB, so you can bet that Rolle's eyes will be locked in on Miles route. So we send him immediately up the field to push Rolle deeper in his coverage. With Ogletree also pushing up the field and breaking his dig off in front of the retreating safety. Beasley's option route will be Romo's hot read if the Giants do bring pressure, and with Beasley's quickness and experience in the Run n Shoot (full of option routes) you can bet he will be open just about every time he runs this route.
This is a half field read for Romo. Pre-snap he will pick a side to read based on what the safeties do, and what type of leverage the CB over Dez lines up with (inside he'll go left, outside he's coming to Dez). Then the read will either be Go, Dig, Option, or Slant, Flat depending on the side.
The key's to this game offensively really lie in DeMarco Murray's hands. If he can get going both rushing and receiving it will make the whole game a lot easier for Romo and the WR's. I'm excited to see how we do and ready to get the 2012 season cranked up.
This will be a big time test for our much maligned front 5 but if they can hold up there will be plays to be made against the Giants beat up back end.