Matt Mosley may be at ESPN.com now, but he can't give up the Cowboys completely. His new column covers some time he spent Wednesday in Wade Phillips' office talking defense, offense and chess. I'll skip the chess part, but they did discuss the one-gap scheme favored by Phillips. No longer will the Cowboys front three play a read-and-react 2-gap scheme where they must take on the block, hold position and then move laterally along the line covering their gaps and fighting off the block. The Phillips 34 is all about attacking a gap and getting into the opponents backfield. Combing through the Phillips playbook I noticed that the line still has to read the ball carrier and adjust to the correct gap based on which way the offense is running, but they no longer have to protect two gaps which limits their movement upfield. The backside players have to cover two-gaps in some defensive sets, but a lot of that has to do with protecting against cut-back runs by the ball carrier.
They also like to use slants where they send the front three lineman through gaps towards one side of the offense. The LB's are then required to fill in the gaps that may be left open. Now, with all this talk about using the one-gap scheme, the natural tendency is to wonder why Parcells didn't use that scheme. I mean, if something seems to be more effective in getting pressure on a QB, why not use it. One problem is that if you're shooting your linemen through gaps you could be susceptible to the running game. Quick-hitters in the running game, properly blocked trap plays, draws and screens could all be effective in defeating a defense that is aggressive in jumping in to the gaps. But somehow, Phillips has done a good job of not letting that happen, and the credit goes to athletic LB's who are filling in against the run, and powerful but quick ends that have the ability to disrupt runs before they get started. Also, having a massive NT that can collpase a pocket in the middle helps. We can only hope that works here in Big D.
There are a ton of blitz calls in the Phillips 34 playbook, and they come from all angles and combinations. Phillips isn't scared to blitz and one guy he's determined to get involved in putting pressure on the QB is Roy Williams.
"You have to get him to attack the line of scrimmage," said Phillips, who pointed to how he used Steve Atwater and Dennis Smith in Denver. "We'll blitz him from the outside and blitz him some up the middle. You'll see a lot more zone blitzes."
Interesting stuff. But if we are going to use Roy more at the line of scrimmage then that puts even more pressure on the FS to be an excellent coverage back. If Roy is blitzing or stacking at the line of scrimmage then we could be playing a lot of Cover 1 and we need a ball-hawking FS to do that effectively. The big question - is Pat Watkins that guy or do they need to go get help immediately. There's always the Anthony Henry option but that open a huge hole at CB that would need to be filled.
I love when the experts make predictions about what a team needs, and yet seem so clueless about the team. Take this Scouts, Inc. review of the Cowboys needs at ESPN.
Hello! Anybody paying attention to the Cowboys now know that we won't be running the 2-gap technique in the 3-4 any longer. Wade Phillips has made that clear on several occasions. But, for the record, we could use some improvement from our defensive ends in terms of getting a decent pass rush.
Here's another quote from the same article.
Hmm...considering the Cowboys are working hard to re-sign Marc Colombo and his year wasn't nearly as bad as the article sounds; I would have to conclude they are off the mark. And Flozell isn't going anywhere. Finally, they make it seem so easy. Just call 1-800-NEW-TACKLE and you can be the proud owner of two new tackles that are definite upgrades. If it were only so.