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Cowboys vs. Giants Film Study: Terrell McClain's Big Game At 1-Tech

The Cowboys got a big game out of Terrell McClain, can he repeat it?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks ago we did a film study on Tyrone Crawford. He had been moved to the 3-tech defensive tackle in the Saints game, and ever since he's been a disruptive force for the Cowboys along the defensive line. The Cowboys have wanted a disruptive 1-tech tackle, but so far we haven't seen much of that. Starter Nick Hayden is an "effort guy" and does a fairly decent job of not getting blown out of the middle, but he's rarely making plays in the backfield. Josh Brent is waiting in the wings, but we don't know what kind of shape he'll be in and how he'll do playing football again after a long layoff.

Over the summer, the Cowboys coaches were raving about the job Terrell McClain was doing, but we really never got to see him in action and healthy. He suffered a high-ankle sprain that slowed him down, then he had a concussion. So his snaps counts this season have been kind of low and production negligible. But in the Giants game, we got a glimpse of the good Terrell McClain, and he was a very disruptive player in only 21 snaps.

Play 1: McClain only saw a handful of snaps in the first half, but on this one you can see what kind of day he had.


That's McClain (yellow arrow) making a quick step to the left at the snap, he can do this because the Cowboys are sending two linebackers on a run blitz to his right (red arrow).


McClain's initial side-step is so quick, the offensive lineman totally misses him and he charges into the backfield (yellow arrow). The fullback is forced to take on a linebacker (red arrow, green circle) leaving McClain a clear path to the running back.


McClain has no problem making a stop in the backfield (yellow circle). McClain's quickness at the line allowed him an open path to the ball.

Play 2: This is the play everybody remembers, the non-fumble that was a bad call.


McClain is over the center playing the 1-tech (yellow arrow).


At the snap McClain engages the blocker (yellow circle) who are moving to the offense's left (red arrow). The Giants are pulling a guard through the hole (green circle).


The guard passes McClain who reads the play, quickly disengages from the block (yellow circle) and heads back upfield (red arrow) as Andre Williams is getting the handoff (green circle). McClain is there so fast he stuffs Williams, jars the ball loose and strips it for a fumble recovery. Only a blown call by the refs saved the Giants. Below is another view of McClain coming through.


A hungry McClain shows what he's thinking.

Play 3: More good work in the second half.


That's McClain (yellow circle) being blocked down the line away from the pitch to Williams (red circle) who is headed far outside the tackle box (green arrow).


McClain reads the play and turns back toward it (yellow circle), meanwhile Williams (red circle) is going wide to get around Jeremy Mincey but also has to contend with Orlando Scandrick.


Williams goes wide and the cuts back on Mincey and Scandrick making them miss, but McClain has closed the gap fast and makes the tackle (yellow circle). The empty red circle is where McClain was, but he quickly covered the ground (green arrow) and made the stop for a two-yard gain after looking like he'd been blocked out of the play.

Play 4: McClain uses his quick step again.


McClain lined up more as a 3-tech on this play.


At the snap he blows past his assigned blocker and forces the pulling guard to block him a few yards deep in the backfield (yellow circle). He's used up two blockers on this play and still gotten penetration. The running back (red circle) had to push this run outside, where it wasn't supposed to go, and it ended up being a negative run.

Play 5: A little pass rush, too.


McClain is back at the 1-tech (yellow arrow).


At the snap he blows right by his guy and makes it all the way up field (yellow circle). He forces Eli Manning (red circle) to get rid of the ball quickly. The Giants completed the pass but McClain forced the pressure.

There were at least two more plays of similar type to the above ones that I could have also shown.

Conclusion: McClain only played 21 snaps so he was kept fresh, but he was very quick at the intial snap, a few times totally leaving the Giants blocking air. He showed some power and was relentless in running down plays. If he could play like this every week, the Cowboys would have the disruptive 1-tech they've been after since the move to the 4-3.

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