The Assassination of David Arkin

Ok, so Tony Romo is the QB of the Dallas Cowboys, and as such comes under unfair media scrutiny. "That's the breaks", we say, "It comes with the position. He's gotta be mentally tough enough to handle it." And I'll buy it. Life is unfair. He knew it going in. With great power comes great responsibility. All that stuff.

But the back up RG? seriously?

It's like the media have a specific agenda to discredit that pick, for reasons that I cannot fathom. The 2011 draft is a success without him. The oline is developing nicely with the play of Frederick and Leary and the resurgence of Free. Yet somehow it is vitally important to the media that we notice every time Arkin is not Hercules while we ignore every time Costa gets pushed back into the QB/RB exchange so that we can play Frederick at Guard. A notable exception to this is Bob Sturm, who at least acknowledges that Costa gets pushed back as much or more than Arkin.

But Bryan Broaddus broke down the film of Friday's blocked field goal and determined that Kevin Burnett got a "tremendous push" on Arkin that created a gap for Tyvon Branch to exploit. Now, I love having a former NFL scout to look into the details of what's going on and peel back the curtain a bit. It's a huge bonus and he alone has grown my football knowledge a great deal. That having been said, he is wrong here.

At the Snap (ball is actually visible on it's way back to Chris Jones):


They have two guys lined up over RG (unknown #) So Tyron Smith (#77 next to Arkin) is going to help inside. Raiders #94, Kevin Burnett, is lined up hat on hat with Arkin (at RE for Dallas) and Tyvon Branch (#33) and another player (#31) are lined up outside the end while Dallas has Dante Rosario (#80) on the wing to address. That has 2 guys trying to block 3. I don't know Dallas's actual protection scheme here, but the conventional wisdom is take the inside guy and let the outside rusher go around.

Just a fraction of a second later, contact begins: 9487720514_3f09b30379_medium

Note Arkin's right arm, circled. He's already reaching out to put a hand on Branch as he comes through the line. Also note, in the same area, the gap between Rosario who has moved up to take on #31. Compare to the gap on the other side between Hanna (#84) and the LE. The gap that Broaddus claims is caused by Burnett's "tremendous push" is clearly visible here, before Burnett has even contacted Arkin. Rosario has caused the gap by stepping forward with his left foot.

Arkin Turns:


Things to note here:

  1. Rosario is totally ignoring Tyvon Branch. Not even a glance at the inside rusher. That may be the design of the blocking scheme, but if so, that seems weird.
  2. Look at Burnett's body and ask yourself, is that the body positioning of a man blowing his guy up, or the body positioning of a man being pulled off balance unwillingly?
  3. Note that Arkin's feet are still on the 10 yard line. He's hardly backed up at all.
  4. Branch is already in the gap at this point as Arkin begins to turn.
  5. Arkin's right Arm is clearly still extended in front of Tyvon Branch, in front of Branch's chest. Now ask yourself which is more likely: an off-balance OLB pushed Arkin around with one arm and without budging Arkin's set feet? or Arkin, reaching out to grab a free rusher gets pulled around by his extended arm in an unsuccessful attempt to do so?

Final Frame:


Arkin is turned further here. No movement off the line indicative of Burnett having a "tremendous push". Rosario gap is even wider. Branch is through.

I'm not saying Arkin isn't at fault. Maybe the protection scheme calls for him to engage both of those guys and that's why Rosario did what he did. In that case, Arkin needed to fire out into the gap between the rushers. Regardless of the protection scheme, Arkin should've grabbed hold of Branch. A 10 yd penalty is way better than a blocked kick.

But it seems pretty clear to me that Arkin was turned by trying to engage a guy that was running past him and to characterize this play as an example of Arkin's weakness or inability to anchor is reaching for something to confirm a personal bias. No more, less, or other.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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